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Hassan Hakmoun is one of contemporary Moroccan music’s most notable figures.
Schooled in the deeply traditional sounds of the Gnawa people in his native Marrakesh, his music has absorbed elements from a variety of popular styles, from jazz and “world music” to neo-classical contemporary Western music and cerebral pop since his move to the U.S. in 1987. The resulting sound has produced a diverse, award-winning, and critically acclaimed body of work. His participation in internationally renowned arts festivals including WOMAD (World of Music, Arts and Dance) and collaborations with respected artists including David Sanborn, Peter Gabriel, Don Cherry, and The Kronos Quartet, have brought him further into the spotlight and inspired many artists from North Africa and around the globe to follow in his footsteps.
Hakmoun’s musical origins are rooted in the African folk music of the Islamic Gnawa sect, descendants from West African slaves brought to North Africa several hundred years ago. Their music combines complicated West African syncopations with long, sinuous North African melodies. Tracing their roots back to Bilal, a freed slave known for his beautiful voice and believed to have been chosen by the Islamic prophet Mohammed to serve as the first muezzin to call the people of the faith to their prayers, Gnawa musicians often express their religious devotion through their music.
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