Saturday, July 25, 2015

Second Amazigh Concert in Fez

The second day of the Fez Festival of Amazigh Culture was a success on all levels. According to the organisers, the forum sessions had been well attended and totally engaging. The evening concert at Bab Makina was never in danger of being anything but great. That was assured by the appearance of Mustapha Oumguil

Amazigh superstar Mustapha Oumguil

The evening began with the Symphonie Amazighe "Adrar". The line up was remarkable array of talent gathered from around the country. Adding to the impact were an impressive twelve gembri players, six drummers and five formidable Amazigh women, who between them created a wall of song and chanting that was spine-tingling.

The five Amazigh female singers - a force to be reckoned with

One of the gembri players was a blind man who was presented with a token of appreciation. And a plaque was also given to the group's musical director, Mohamed Aknouz.

Musical Director Mohamed Aknous receiving his award

The Amazigh women are warmly welcomed whenever they appear and when Raisa Rkia Demsiria took to the stage she was given a heroine's welcome.

Raisa Rkia Demsira also brought along her own troupe of dancers and a talented rebab player

The surprise of the evening was a stunningly dead-pan and clown-like performance from Rais Haj Aarab, who played the rebab,  joked with the audience and eventually left the stage to join the audience - accompanied by four of the dancers who had performed with Raisa Rkia Demsira.

Then it was time for the crowd favourite, Mustafa Oumguil, a native Amazigh singer from the High Atlas mountains. He is from the same region as the late singer Rouicha.  Oumguil has been a star of the Moroccan music scene for over twenty years and is constantly in demand for concerts and festivals in Morocco and abroad.

Oumguil was not into theatrics and performed with consumate skill, but without a lot of charisma.  His set list included songs from his many albums - "Alawah", "Adiyani", "Chkoun ykhelik" or "hal Denya Wach hda". Mustapha Oumguil released several singles that were big hits with the public, including "Wa zin awa", "Zmani ghedar", "Lkha oubridench", "Ida Zman," "Nhmed Sidi rebbi" and "Asawasir". Oumguil is today considered one of the superstars of Amazigh song.

Oumguil was accompanied by an unnamed singer with a voice that could cut through steel. He also had the seemingly obligatory four Amazigh dancers.

Mustapha Oumguil is known for his melodious voice and a Chaabi-Amazigh style. Moroccan Chaabi differs from Algerian Chaabi and refers to several types of Moroccan popular music of Morocco, combining rural and urban folk music. Rural varieties include Jerra and Aïta. Urban varieties are called Sahli.

Famous artists performing this genre include Hajib, Stati, Najat Aatabou, Senhaji and Khalid Bennani.

The future of Amazigh music 

One of the difficulties for non-Amazigh speakers face in researching Amazigh musicians is the absolute lack of a presence on line. While there are many music videos, there is almost no biographical information. The Amazigh music movement would do well to have a campaign to increase their presence on the Internet.

Sunday's concert includes Italian singer Laura Conti and Evidor. Nadi Laaroussi will be the closing act at Bab Makina.

The full program and concert details are here: Amazigh Festival

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