Innov Gnawa

18/01/18A Performance Of Songs From The Jewish Songbook Of Moroccan Gnawa

If you haven't yet heard of Gnawa music, it is part of a North African tradition of spiritual religious songs and rhythms that remains one of the major musical currents in Morocco to this day. Often dubbed 'Moroccan Blues', "Gnawa music is the ritual trance music of Morocco’s black communities, originally descended from slaves and soldiers once brought to Morocco from Northern Mali and Mauritania [that has] a raw, hypnotic power".

Based in New York City and formed in 2014 by Moroccan expat Samir LanGus, the Grammy-nominated musical collective Innov Gnawa has been keeping this ancient musical tradition alive, while adding its own contemporary spin. Late last year the outfit performed a two-part set (Set 1 / Set 2) live at the B'nai Israel Synagogue in Baltimore, Maryland, which you can watch a 20-minute excerpt from below; a rare performance of Jewish songs from the Gnawa repertoire:

"Jews first settled in what is now Morocco as early as 70 CE, and at its peak in the 1940s, Morocco’s Jewish population exceeded 250,000. Early communities settled among and were made up of converted Berbers. A second wave of Sephardic Jews settled in the region after being expelled from the Kingdoms of Spain in 1492.”

For more Gnawa music, feel free to check out Innov Gnawa's self-entitled debut release over here.

AUTHOR: Lev Nordstrom