Kisses, selfies and lots of wild wild women at the Matinée Marocaine in Muziekgebouw in Amsterdam. Khadija Margoum and Khadija El Bidaouia sang Moroccan songs about joy, suffering and love
by Charlie Crooijmans
Before the concert started, the documentary Aïta of film director Izza Genini was screened. The movie brought us back to 1988. Khadija El Bidaouia was one of the young women that traveled along with the Bedouin group of chikhates (female singers) and chioukhs (musicians). In the Q&A Genini explained that this music genre was popular among the people but had a low status. The women were traveling with men, smoked, drank, danced and waved their long hair. Women of loose morals. They ought to stay at home. But nowadays the music is considered respectful and important. This is mainly due to the efforts of Brahim El Mazned, director and founder of Visa for Music in Rabat among other festivals.
El Mazned compiled the price winning anthology Chikhates et Chioukhs de l’Aïta to preserve Moroccan musical legacy. He hopes that Aïta will become as strong as Flamenco in Spain, Fado in Portugal or Cumbia in Colombia.
Amsterdam – The Egyptian pop star Hakim (aka the Lion of Egypt) gave an unique performance on the 21st of September in the Melkweg in Amsterdam. The announcement of the concert on Melkweg’s website accurately described Hakim as an innovator of both the Jeel, popular youth music style, and the more folky dance Sha’bi. This is a story worth telling as it gives an idea not only about an important chapter in the development of popular music scene in Egypt, but also about how it always relates to and interacts with the different social classes. For decades there has been a musical answer offered to fit the social mobility and changing tastes of different classes. Let’s go briefly over this story before commenting on the fantastic show he gave in the Melkweg.
The story begins at the second half of the 1970s. There was a kind of a gap in the popular music market in Egypt. On one hand, the young audience of the urban middle class did not feel attracted to the folkish nightclub music of Ahmed Adaweyah. This music was socially regarded as that of a lower class that has become the nouveau riche.
This Summer at the Houtfestival in Haarlem in the Netherlands, I spoke to the Iranian singer Mahsa Vahdat for VPRO Vrije Geluiden. Internationally she is known for her performances with her sister Marjan Vahdat. In Iran they are not allowed to play in public, only for a female audience. That doesn’t stop her from making music and poetry in her home country. Mahsa also encourages and teaches the Persian vocal art to women in Iran. Since 2007 she is one of the ambassadors of Freemuse.
In the video-interview she tells me about the importance of poetry.
Last month News and Noise was at Babel Med, the world music and jazz forum that took place on March 16 – 18 in Marseilles, and we spoke to Sama Abdulhadi aka Skywalker. Sama is the first techno DJ and producer of the Palestinian underground community. In the video interview below she’ll tell us about Berlin Techno and her ambitions. Continue reading →
News and Noise! was invited to a musical event at the Immigration detention center or asylum seekers reception center (AZC for short in Dutch) located at a former military hospital in Utrecht. Moroccan poet, musician and spoken word artist Walid Ben Selim (N3erdstan) gave performances. This event is a collaboration of the organizations Vrolijkheid and Culture Connection.Continue reading →
Utrecht is the center of the Netherlands, the headquarters and crossroads of the national railways. Here you see the Dutch from all provinces and all walks of life changing trains at the central train station on the eve of every weekend. Utrecht is a celebration of the diversity of the local people. At the heart of it lays Rasa, a magical venue in a small alley. Once you walk into Rasa, you never know where you’re taken to. Music and dance of all genres from literally all over the world are featured there. A place where people from very different backgrounds and beliefs get a chance to practice their shared humanity. A good exercise for these times, I would say.
In the beginning of March singer-songwriter Rokia Traoré from Mali came to Amsterdam to do an exclusive concert at the North Sea Jazz Club. She was touring round Europe to present her wonderful new album ‘Né So’. At my work at VPRO Vrije Geluiden (Dutch cross media music channel), I am coordinating a group of young people who are thinking about alternative ways to present music and musicians. One of them, the animator Wisse Beets, wanted to do an interview with Rokia without asking her any questions. Instead, he showed her some drawings she could reflect on, with which he made an animation (see below). Her thoughts on a drawing of a half sinking boat full of people were so profound, I decided to transcribe them for News and Noise! Continue reading →