New headliners for the 25th edition of the Gnaoua and World Music Festival who promise to ignite the stages! Portraits


For this 25th edition, the Gnaoua and World Music Festival will present 53 concerts and more than 400 artists in total.

Like every year, perfectly balanced between Maâlems Gnaoua and musicians from around the world, the artistic selection of this 25th edition offers a carefully thought-out program, which offers a mixture of very varied musical styles. Designed to please all audiences, the programming is intended to be avant-garde, daring, harmonious and inclusive, and above all an invitation to live a unique experience, that only the Gnaoua and World Music Festival can imagine.

Thus, the Gnaoua and World Music Festival of Essaouira will celebrate its 25th edition from June 27 to 29. An unforgettable first quarter of a century which saw the biggest names in jazz and world music parade on the stages of the Festival, alongside the Maâlems Gnaoua.

This year is no exception to the rule. With headliners never seen before in Morocco, the Festival promises memorable nights where feverish sounds from the four corners of the world will sweep over the city of the Trade Winds.

Buika (Spain), Saint Levant (Palestine), The Brecker Brothers Band Reunion (United States), Labess (France, Algeria) and Bokanté (United States, Guadeloupe) are some of the headliners who will light up this 25th editing. Flamenco, blues, jazz, oriental music, rap, gypsy rumba, chaâbi, etc.

The Festival asserts, more than ever, its eclectic character which has established it as an unmissable event in the music world’s agenda.

The emotion that flows from Buika’s raspy and powerful voice makes her one of the most distinctive and celebrated Spanish artists in the world. An incredibly expressive voice, which blends the soul of flamenco with the depth of jazz, transcends linguistic barriers and overcomes musical boundaries.

A rising star on the international music scene, the Palestinian rapper with plural origins and a multi-generational audience, Saint Levant brilliantly mixes Arabic, English and French in his tracks. Very politically engaged, his pieces which fuse hip hop and oriental RnB are a hit on platforms and attract millions of views on social networks.

By programming Randy Brecker and his group (The Brecker Brothers Band Reunion), the Festival welcomes one of the biggest names in jazz of the last 50 years, who, with his late brother Michael Brecker, conquered stages around the world and had a lasting influence on generations of musicians.

Labess’ festive and warm music draws its roots from Algerian chaâbi, which it merges with flamenco and rumba, advocating messages of peace and unity. Renowned for his concerts with boundless energy, Labess gives voice to mixed music, free and inhabited.

A supergroup of instrumentalists from diverse backgrounds, Bokanté bears the signature of Michael League, one of the great jazz bassists of his generation and founder of Snarky Puppy. The group has a major asset: its singer Malika Tirolien who perfectly masters the vocal demands of jazz and speaks, in Creole, French and English, texts that resonate with the struggles facing the world today. .



María Concepción Balboa Buika, known as Buika, is a Spanish singer of Equatorial Guinean origin, born in 1972 in Palma de Mallorca in Spain. She grew up among Gypsies and mixed flamenco, copla, jazz, soul and funk with a voice with harsh inflections. She is currently considered one of the most unique singers on the Spanish music scene. It was during a trip to London that the young woman was invited to a Pat Metheny concert. From then on, his life took a new turn. She began by performing with local groups. In 2005, the Jazz woman released her first album, simply titled ‘Buika’. In 2006, she released ‘Mi Niña Lola’, which won two Grammy Awards and a gold record in Spain. She did it again two years later with ‘Nina de fuego’. Between soul, jazz and flamenco, Buika stands out for his passionate way of interpreting his songs with a singular voice, a voice that seems marked by life. Buika has worked with very influential musicians, producers and DJs such as Carlos Santana, Rick Rubin, Cindy Blackman, Seal and the famous Spanish director Pedro Almodovar, among others.


To a Franco-Algerian mother and a Serbo-Palestinian father, Saint Levant, alias Marwan Abdelhamid, was born in Jerusalem during the second Intifada. He spent ten years in Gaza, to which he dedicated his first EP “From Gaza with love”. In 2007, Marwan and his family were forced to flee to Jordan, where he lived the rest of his youth until settling in Los Angeles. Drawing inspiration from his origins with influences blending traditional Arab music, RnB and hip hop, the young artist embraces the plurality of his own cultural heritage, that of the Arab community around the world and the Palestinian struggle. His pieces with international appeal, written in Arabic, French and English, are successful with a global audience.

His latest title “Deira”, released in February 2024, evokes a hotel overlooking the sea in the Al Rimal district of Gaza that his father, an architect and entrepreneur, had designed and managed. The Deira Hotel was one of the most beautiful buildings in the city and the place where Marwan lived as a child. It has since been destroyed by IDF bombings in recent months.


Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, trumpeter Randy Brecker and his younger brother, saxophonist Michael Brecker, led the way in a musical revival by blending sophisticated Jazz harmonies and fiery solos with stunning funk grooves and flirtatious energy. with rock. Building on their eponymous debut album from 1975 and a series of successful albums – Back To Back (1976), Don’t Stop The Music (1977), Heavy Metal Be-Bop (1978), Détente (1980) and Straphangin’ (1981) – funk fusion heavyweights better known as the Brecker Brothers defined a new subgenre within Jazz itself, and paved the way for a younger generation of musicians. After the Brecker Brothers broke up in 1982, Randy recorded and toured with Jaco Pastorius’ big band Word Of Mouth. In 2001, Randy reunited with his brother Michael to tour Europe with an acoustic version of the Brecker Bros as well as promoting his album “Hangin’ In The City”. Mikael would pass away in 2007. Four years later, while Randy was assembling a band for a performance at New York’s Blue Note, he realized that all the musicians he contacted had played in different editions of the Brecker Brothers Band. The name of the group, The Brecker Brothers band reunion, will be chosen as a tribute to Mikael.


It is on the road to exile that the Labess group encounters its musical identity. Plural, free, alive. Nourished by Algerian roots and the vast journey of the artist Nedjim Bouizzoul. Labess is a journey that begins in Algiers, in the popular Hussein-Dey district. Nedjim Bouizzoul grew up lulled by the chaâbi of the “big brothers” musicians, he searched for his voice and his path. Deep inside him resonates a call, that of his guitar and of North America. It was with his family, with his mother and his sisters, that he migrated to Quebec at the age of 18. There, he plays in the street or in the metro. Defining himself as a self-taught street musician, he discovered café concerts and then the first musical collaborations. This is the birth of Labess, the name of the group and the first album, in French “Tout va bien” (2007). Music open to the four winds of the world: African sounds, gypsy rumba, flamenco… The voice is raised in several languages, Arabic dialect Algerian, Spanish, French. Deep and committed. Nedjim lived in Colombia for two years. In 2021, the fourth album “Yemma” was released, a tribute to his mother who sacrificed everything to give him a chance to fly. The journey continues, Labess euphorizes the rooms, in North Africa and everywhere else. Like in France, where it has been anchored for several years.


The term Bokanté means “exchange” in Creole, the mother tongue of Malika Tirolien who grew up in the Caribbean, in Guadeloupe. It was in 2013, during the recording of Snarky Puppy’s first “Family Dinner”, that Michael League invited the young singer, an adopted Quebecer. She then puts her sunny voice, mixed with soul and Jazz, on the tracks “I’m Not The One” and “Sew”. The friends meet today in Bokanté, surrounded by a contingent of Snarky Puppy supplemented by the two guitarists of the collective, Chris McQueen and Bob Lanzetti. They are joined by percussion legend Jamey Haddad (Paul Simon, Sting), lap-steel guitar virtuoso Roosevelt Collier (Lee Boys, Karl Denson) and percussionists André

Ferrari (Väsen) and Keita Ogawa (Banda Magda, Yo-Yo Ma). An atypical instrumentation that combines the sounds of the desert and the delta, blues and Caribbean kaladja, a diverse ensemble rich in melody and groove. Singing in both Creole and French, Tirolien’s words resonate with the struggles facing us in today’s world – racism, the refugee crisis, a planet in agony, indifference to human suffering.

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