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Boujemaa Bouboul

ArtForm: Fashion, CityShowcase Act/Composer

Master musician or "Malem" of the Gnawa tradition Boujemaa Bouboul hails from the ancient southern Moroccan town of Tarroudant also known as the mother of Marrakech. Boujemaa is a hereditary Gnawa born into a musical family descended from slaves.

Gnawa is the music of slavery and tells of their history. The Gnawa are the descendants of Sudanese slaves who were imported into Morocco around the 12th century by Arab traders to help build up the Arab empire.  Gnawa.  Gnawa mystical brotherhoods exist to pass on this history. It is also the music of trance and healing and the Gnawi use their powers to cure sickness and exorcise bad spirits.
Training to become a Gnawi "malem" or master musician is rigorous and hard, often involving   severe beatings. Boujemaa has been trained in the Gnawa arts by his father and by other malems and has been playing and performing since the age of 3. He and his brothers along with their father would travel far and wide from town to town on the back of a donkey to learn the meaning of Gnawa and to perform their art. The intensity of his training meant he never received a formal education.
By the age of 15 Boujemaa was travelling abroad, touring France, Italy, Belgium, Spain and Germany performing at music festivals and celebrations of Gnawa.
Back in Morocco he began to play at Tarroudant’s most famous hotel "La Gazelle D'Or", initially just playing for tourist's donations but before long, because of his popularity he was given regular employment as the hotels main entertainer meeting and performing for guests from all around the world. He remembers playing all night long for a recumbent Mick Jagger as his children danced around them enjoying the music.

He received letters and messages from guests praising him and asking when he would be next visiting their country. It was the English tourists who he particularly had an affinity with. Gnawa music is less well known in England and people were eager to hear more. Boujemaa kept hearing about London and was interested and excited and was very eager to come to the UK.

Once in London Boujemaa says he felt that his spirit was here and that the land was full of spirits and this was where he wanted to stay and develop his music.
Since he has settled in the U.K he has performed at a wide range of venues and festivals and collaborated with a number of different musicians.

He made a major contribution to Byron Wallen’s”Meeting Ground” album and in 2007 toured with him, receiving great reviews and being nominated as one of the Independent's top 5 gigs. The album was also nominated for a Radio 3 world music award.

He has also recorded with Transglobal Underground

He recently worked with Yuseff Islam [Cat Stevens].

Boujemaa plays guimbri, [3 stringed lute] cracabas, [castanets] tariga and genga drums, sings and dances. His group can play in a variety of combinations of 3, 4 or 5 members.

He has currently been in the studio in London recording a five track E.P which is due for an itunes release on September 18th 2009.

Venues and festivals he has performed at include:

The Festival of World Cultures in Dublin, The Big Chill Festival, the Glade Festival, The Pyramid Festival, Nostock, The Diaspora Festival in Hyde Park, The Eid Festival in Trafalgar Square, The Royal Festival Hall,  Momo's, the Spitz, Synergy, Subterainia, The Vortex, Cargo, Darbuka, St Ethelburga’s, The British Museum and The V&A.

His music has been played on the late Charlie Gillet’s Radio London programme and the band have been interviewed and performed live on DJ Ritu’s Resonance Radio programme twice.

Boujemaa's ambition is to bring Gnawa music to the UK and spread the teachings of Gnawa. He hopes his son, born in London will follow him and become a musician and "malem" in the future.

Featuring In:

Boujemaa Bouboul at Cheyenne Spur Steak & Grill for Roots&Flutes
Sunday 09.05.2010
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