Saturday, June 12, 2010

Gospel music closes Fez Festival

The final evening at Bab al Makina started with Sista Kee, or perhaps Sista Off-Key. Dressed in a white skirt and shirt with sneakers on her feet and a handbag slung over her shoulder, she looked like a college student. Her piano playing was mediocre (unlike the afternoon concert, when she played superbly) and her voice monotonous as well as being off-key. Unfortunately, her material was worse.

Sista Kee

Many of the songs Sista Kee had written herself. They were vaguely adolescent and seemed a far cry from gospel music as we know it. Most of the lyrics were banal and inoffensive, but one song, by David Murray, with whom she performed this afternoon, told of an Africa that lay dying: "If I were a hospice worker, I would enter the room where you are lying and wipe the flies from your eyes" - this in a week when Africa is bursting with pride with World Cup fever! It was offensive - a truly patronising view from African Americans that perpetuates the myth that Africa is a basket-case. One visiting American music journalist called the song embarrassing.

To add insult to injury, Sista Kee told the audience that her CDs were on sale at the venue - truly tacky!

If this is the new generation of gospel singers, then we're about to lose a genre of music that many enjoy.

At least a third of the audience stayed outside the auditorium, waiting for the main act.

The audience normally loves gospel music and it doesn't take much to have them on their feet, swaying, clapping and shouting 'hallelujah!'. Sista Kee left them somewhat depressed, and it took some warming up by the Blind Boys of Alabama before a few people at the back started dancing. But the Blind Boys should have been put out to pasture many years ago.

The Blind Boys of Alabama

The sound mix wasn't good so their diction was poor, and they needed a couple of sexy backing singers to lighten things up. Although a large number of people left, things starting to swing when the lead singer got down from the stage into the audience to encourage more participation. At least the crowd got a little of what they were looking for.

It's become a tradition to end the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music with a concert of gospel music that is hugely popular with the local population. But this lacklustre concert was a woeful end, not worthy of such a prestigious event.


Maggie and Jean-Paul Bell from Australia

Mary Finnigan, The Honourable Victor Ecclestone (MBE) and Chris Gilchrist from the UK

To see all the Fez Festival 2010 stories from Morocco, on The View from Fez, click HERE!

To close the lid on the 2010 Fez Festival of World Sacred Music, The View from Fez will be publishing a wrap of the Festival tomorrow, Sunday.


Anonymous said...

Your method of reviewing the entertainment is somewhat of a turn-off due to your use of subjective tabloid style of writing!

Alex UK said...

What a vacuous comment, and why did anonymous bother, other than to be annoying. I have read the reviews and while not agreeing with all of them, enjoyed them because they are subjective as a review should be. And where else does one get such superb coverage?

Anonymous said...

Well done. Great reporting.