From FPA Board Member Emilie Pons
artists, along with a few other Gnawi, performed at the Mohammed V Theater stage on November 23rd. Their show was one of the 60+ concerts featured at the 10th edition of the Visa for Music festival. Artists from countries as varied as Ouganda, Congo, Egypt, Mauritania, Bahrein, Burkina Faso, Algeria, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Nigeria, Lebanon, South Africa, Camreoun, Iran and Cape Verde performed in the center of the Moroccan capital.
Every year, Morocco never fails to impress with its commitment to culture from the Kingdom as well as from outside the Kingdom. The Marrakech International Film Festival just ended, and earlier this year, the Gnawa and world music festival attracted local and international crowds to Essaouira. Visa for Music is another international festival which brings together talents and promoters who work in a multitude of languages and dialects. For Mauritanian vocalist and activist Ziza Youssouf, who performed this year, Visa for Music is “a symbol of humanity” where “sensitive souls” get to meet. “We need these types of meetings,” he explains. “If all countries were given an opportunity to meet, there wouldn’t be any fear. We cannot create alliances within fear. And if countries meet on a regular basis, there will be a strong energy.” Brahim el Mazned, the founder and director of Visa for Music, should be named “representative of sensitive souls in Morocco,” Youssouf adds. Youssouf believes that a festival like Visa for Music helps young people understand their values and make the most of them. It can also create ambassadors and strong actors of social causes, as well as spokespersons for youth and women, he says.
The venues, with places such as the Mohammed V Theater, the Bahini venue, or the Renaissance stage, were as varied as the genres: from rock to rap to electronic music to traditional Moroccan music, everything was at the Visa for Music rendez-vous. The festival featured panels about underrepresented cultures and their integration into the music industry, but also about promoting the African musical heritage, or again African contributions to jazz. The festival also organized after parties at the hotel bars Onomo and the Marriott.
Visa for a Music is a bridge between African and Northern markets, and it provides exposure to African and Middle Eastern performers. Music festivals bring together talents from different parts of the world, but they also create conversations between the host city or host country of the festival and all its guests.