Under the radiant sun, attendees from all corners of the globe gather to rekindle the enchantment of Gnaoua music, accompanied by fervent enthusiasts of the “Hal” and the Guenbri. These elements converge to herald the triumphant comeback of the Essaouira Gnaoua Festival, now in its 24th edition, marked by the theme of “Great Reunions” following a compelled hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing health restrictions.
A kaleidoscope of vibrant hues, fluttering flags, beaming smiles, and rhythmic movements engulfed the labyrinthine pathways of the historic city, heralding the much-anticipated reunion. Embracing age-old customs, the procession was led by André Azoulay, the esteemed Royal Advisor, accompanied by Mehdi Bensaid, the Minister of Youth, Culture, and Communication, and Chakib Benmoussa, the Minister of National Education, Preschool, and Sports. Alongside them, dignitaries representing the region, and the ever-emotional Neila Tazi, the festival’s visionary founder, radiated an unwavering enthusiasm akin to their very first encounter.
Neila expressed, “This achievement fills the Gnaoua community, who have long operated in obscurity, with immense pride, and it also brings great satisfaction to our dedicated team, who have invested significant efforts. It signifies a triumphant return for the festival, rekindling its vibrant spirit, reuniting its people, and revitalizing its energies. Furthermore, it serves as a gratifying moment for all the enthusiasts of this music with its euphoric virtues.”
An Electrifying Performance Filled with Vibrant Musical Fusions
In its 24th edition, the Gnaoua and World Music Festival embodies its name more than ever before, showcasing a program brimming with vibrant musical fusions. From the outset, the stage came alive with an electrifying energy as the audience, thirsting for the soul-stirring sounds of Qrageb and Guembri, reveled in a night that set the tone for an extraordinary musical journey.
Uniting renowned artists on stage, captivating festival-goers with the mesmerizing Gnaoua and Issaoua melodies, which only this city holds the secret to, Maâlems Mohamed and Saïd Kouyou showcased their exceptional talent alongside the Tambours du Burundi, creating an awe-inspiring collaboration. Accompanied by Amagaba, Jaleel Shaw, and Sanaa Marahati, this extraordinary ensemble took center stage at Moulay Hassan, enchanting the audience with a performance that transcended boundaries.
the evening witnessed the resplendent return of the Festival to its city of origin, graced by the presence of Maalem Abdelkbir and Hicham Merchane on stage. These two artists ignited the audience, uniting their talents in a seamless harmony of energies, creating an unforgettable experience that resonated with every soul in attendance.
The night further unfolded with the captivating presence of Belgian star Selah Sue, who seamlessly merged with the crowd in an extraordinary synergy. Embracing the pulsating energy, Selah Sue found it hard to bid farewell to the stage, promising a swift return, leaving the audience longing for more. The fusion between this rockstar and the enthralled spectators created a rare and unforgettable experience.