Gnaoua Festival 2019



»To us, Gnawa stands above all other kinds of music.
It’s our childhood. It’s spiritual healing, and it makes you feel grounded.«
Asmâa Hamzaoui

»In future I’d like to study Arab and African music in more depth.
It is so rich, that it is a lifetime commitment.«
Joachim Kühn


Wednesday, 14/08/2019

Thursday, 15/08/2019

Friday, 16/08/2019

Saturday, 17/08/2019

Curation: Alaa Zouiten


They came from West African countries now called Mauritania, Senegal, Niger and Mali, many of them from Western Sudan. For centuries, West Africans, often still children, were kidnapped, enslaved and deported by caravan trade routes to today's Maghreb states. In the 16th century, one of the largest centres of trans-Saharan human trafficking was in Morocco, about 150 kilometres from Marrakech.

Today Essaouira is one of the most important cultural centres of Gnaoua. There are various assumptions about the origin of the term »Gnaoua«. It was probably derived from the Arabic »Guinea«, i.e. »black«. A derivation from the Berber akal n iguinaouen, »land of blacks«, is also possible. The »Gnaouis«, the black Moroccans, trace their cultural origins back to the Hausa from states such as today's Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon and Niger, the Peul, whose principalities stretched from Guinea, Senegal, Mauritania, Mali and Chad to Sudan, the Wolof culture in Senegal, Gambia and Mauritania, and above all to the Bambara and Songhai, whose empires concentrated around Niger and shaped the regions linguistically and culturally from the 15th to the 17th century.

The Gnaouis blended the spiritual music of these very different West African cultures of origin with Sufi traditions and musical styles of the Jewish and Muslim Arabs and Amazigh North Africans. The outcome is a resilient, spiritual music and a curative practice, the Gnaoua culture, whose musical core is the driving rhythm of the metal »qraqeb«, the predecessor of the flamenco castanets.

Gnaoua is currently an integral part of Moroccan music culture. The music of the Black Maghreb is mixed with Jazz, Pop and Rock. With their rhythmic music, the Gnaouis not only regenerated the sound of Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, they also had a great impact on the global development of jazz: From the 1960s onwards, renowned US jazz musicians such as Randy Weston, Archie Shepp and Joe Zawinul became interested in the trance music of the Gnaouis and performed together with great Mâalems (Gnaoua masters). Rock stars such as Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and Carlos Santana were also inspired by Gnaoua music.

The UNESCO is considering including Gnaoua music in the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in December 2019.

The GNAOUA FESTIVAL BERLIN No2 is presented by

The Partners


Our special thanks to Jörg Grotjohann, Cultural Attaché of the German Embassy in Rabat, for his kind assistance.



14-15/082019 | 10am | Club
free event
Registration required for professional musicians only.

After the 1st festival the event is already iconic, we present the Gnaoua Masterclass with Mâalem Majid Bekkas.

The gimbri and oud player Majid Bekkas, who received numerous awards, is one of the international stars of the Moroccan music scene and is known to a large audience in Germany because of his collaborations with Joachim Kühn and Klaus Doldinger. The trio of Majid Bekkas, Joachim Kühn and Ramón López have released five successful, award winning albums on the renowned Jazz label ACT.

The GNAOUA FESTIVAL BERLIN would like to establish the Masterclass as a recurring feature for the benefit of the Berlin music scene. This year, the charismatic Majid Bekkas is setting new musical priorities as a coach. He is supported by his long-time collaborator Aly Keïta (Balafon), the star of sub-Saharan music in Berlin. Over a period of two days, both Mâalems - both masters - will collaborate on new songs in a music lab with professional musicians from Berlin. The result will be presented to the audience in this concert.


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15/08/2019 | 5pm | meeting point: Südstern
free event


The parade starts at the Südstern, goes through the Hasenheide park and ends at the WERKSTATT DER KULTUREN. The traditional parade of Gnaoua musicians takes place in the Moroccan coastal town of Essaouira and attracts every year thousands of visitors from all over the world. The livery are a wealth of colours, the qraqebs - four-part metal castanets - set the Gnaoua rhythms, accompanied by singing, dancing and spectacular high leaps, the festival opener!

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15/08/2019 | 8pm | Auditorium
Advance sale 12 EUR, Box office 16 EUR / 12 EUR discount


The »New York Times« described as fascinating the strikingly unusual diversity of the audience in Berlin when they visited the series ARAB SONG JAM, which has a regular slot at the WERKSTATT DER KULTUREN. This year, in 2019, it explores the transcultural complexity of the spaces »Maghreb« and »Mashreq«. »Cultural mapping« as an explorative search, in which a new musical focus is set for each concert.  Alaa Zouiten, who is responsible for the programme of the GNAOUA FESTIVAL BERLIN as well as for a part of the ARAB SONG JAM series, offers audiences the first opportunity to experience extraordinary and meaningful music from the Gnaoua culture that is worth preserving.

He has invited the Gnaoua »Punk« Simo Lagnawi from London, Hicham Bilali of the »Black Koyos« from Brussels, the musicians Rachid Lamouri, Habib Belk, Zakaria Izoubaz and Rabii Rezgoui of »Gnawa Deutschland«, and last but not least Alaa Zouiten himself will be playing.


  • Simo Lagnawi - gimbri, qraqeb
  • Hicham Bilali - gimbri, qraqeb, vocal
  • Rachid Lamouri - qraqeb, vocal
  • Habib Belk - gimbri, vocal
  • Zakaria Izoubaz - qraqeb, vocal
  • Rabii Rezgoui - qraqeb, vocal
  • Alaa Zouiten - oud

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16/08/2019 | 3pm | summer garden



Free event
Open to all who are interested. Registration is not required.


A comprehensive portrait of Simo Lagnawi, published in the British »Sunday Tribune« at the end of June 2019, concludes with the words of journalist Jude Cowan Montagne: »As a Londoner I feel lucky to have Simo based here, an expert who shares his skills with us within and outside the music community of my city.« We’d like to add that as Berliners, we now have the opportunity to meet the ‘expert’ in a workshop and immerse ourselves into the complex culture of Gnaoua. If you feel like it, come along to the workshop in the summer garden with your own rhythm instruments.

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16/08/2019 | 7pm | Auditorium
Advance sale 12 EUR, Box office 16 EUR / 12 EUR discount

Last year they performed one of the most beautiful concerts of the festival: It was the fruit of an intense collaboration between outstanding musicians from Berlin and Majid Bekkas and Aly Keita.


  • Majid Bekkas - gimbri, e-guitar, vocal
  • Aly Keita - balafon
  • Arcadius Didavi - e-bass
  • Djielifily Sako - Kora
  • Moussa Coulibaly - N'goni/balafon
  • Myriam El Haik - piano
  • Marth-Jose Fambo - piano/keyboard
  • Jarita Freydank - drums/vocal
  • Willy Sahel - E-Bass/vocal
  • Alhousseini Mohamed Anivolla - e-guitar/vocal
  • Fuasi Abdul-Khaliq - sax

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16/08/2019 | 9pm | Auditorium
Advanced sale 12 EUR, Box office 16 EUR / 12 EUR discount


He is regarded as the »enfant terrible« of the contemporary music scene in Morocco.
With his band he has devoted himself to the Amazigh-Gnaoua tradition from the south of the country. His music weaves together many Gnaoua and Amazigh elements from Agadir and Taroudant, as well as rock as played by Jimi Hendrix. Cultural heritage as a constantly reinventing movement between traditional immaterial culture and the present. In this case, the result is an explosive avant-garde mixture that reinterprets and celebrates tradition anew.


  • Mehdi Qamoum - gimbri, vocals, leader
  • Mourad Bachkou - qraqeb, vocals
  • Hamid Zriouil - piano
  • Driss Yamdah - qraqeb, vocals
  • Younes Teftal - drums
  • Ousama Menay - bass
  • Mahfoud Janadi - electric guitar

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17/08/2019 | 8pm | Auditorium
Advanced sale 12 EUR, Box office 16 EUR / 12 EUR discount

Although women are indispensable during Gnaoua rituals, there have not been many female Gnaoua musicians thus far. Asmâa Hamzaoui and the band Bnat Timbouktou are part of a new wave that is changing that. Hamzaoui is from a family in which Gnaoua culture is being lived and breathed.


Her father is a master musician and her mother is a dancer. As a child she learned to play the gimbri and joined the band of her father at an early age, before he encouraged her to form her own group.

Bnat Timbouktou was born, the band with whom she will release her first album called »Oulad Lghaba« this autumn on the Swedish label Ajabu Records. Among other songs, Bnat Timbouktou will also play the »Black Suite« - according to her, this is the ritual that comes closest to the core of Gnaoua culture. While Hamzaoui is a traditionalist in many ways, her pieces are also creative reinterpretations of past presences.


  • Asmâa Hamzaoui - gimbri, vocals
  • Aicha Hamzaoui - qraqeb, vocals
  • Soukaina Elmeliyjy - qraqeb, vocals
  • Hind Lamgammah - qraqeb, vocals



17/08/2019 | 10pm | Tempelhofer Feld / Cabuwazi big top
Advanced sale 12 EUR, Box office 16 EUR / 12 EUR discount 6/s


Khaddouj Hadidi who is from Essaouira is a distinguished Mqaddma a chief of rituals.  Her father was already Mâalem, a master, and her husband is from a renowned Gnoua family:  Mâalem Mokhtar Gania. Her comprehensive knowledge about the different aspects of the Gnaoua rituals from rhythms, colours to dances allows her to thoroughly prepare the »Lila« and to accompany the participants into their trances. The Mqaddma is supported by numerous musicians playing during the festival. Mâalem Mokhtar Gania role is equally important, he is responsible for the connection to the »Mlouk«.


  • Mokhtar Gania - Mâalem
  • Khaddouj Hadidi - Mqaddma
  • Simo Lagnawi - gimbri, qraqeb
  • Hicham Bilali - gimbri, qraqeb, vocal
  • Rachid Lamouri - qraqeb, vocal
  • Habib Belk - gimbri, vocal
  • Zakaria Izoubaz – qraqeb, vocal
  • Rabii Rezgoui - qraqeb, vocal

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The WERKSTATT DER KULTUREN is funded by the Senate Department for Culture and Europe.