Alluring melodies, enchanting vocals, breathtaking brass instruments and an explosive chaabi groove. The Sheikhs Shikhats & B’net Chaabi propose a multi-vocal adaptation of popular songs from Morocco on daring jazz arrangements and continuous rhythms tending towards trance. Let yourself be charmed by the strength and beauty of a revisited musical and poetic tradition!
This project, led by Laïla Amezian with Laurent Blondiau as an accomplice, pays tribute to the Ghanayats and Shikhats, female musicians who fought for freedom of expression through their art. It also highlights a cultural heritage that these singers have popularised throughout Morocco since the end of the 19th century, and which is perpetuated in Belgium.
Fascinating in all its strength and audacity, this project brings to the forefront a vocal and musical tradition little known to the general public: that of the Ghanayats and Shikhats. Emblematic figures of traditional Moroccan culture, these artists were as much adored as despised and stigmatised. Their songs based on the art of Aïta (literally ‘call’ in Arabic) were practised as a means of transmitting a collective and sometimes revolutionary message. The Chaabi (lit. ‘popular’) became an urban style of popular and traditional songs specific to Morocco, practised during traditional celebrations and dedicated to dance.
To reinterpret extracts from these chaabi and traditional repertoires, Laïla surrounds herself with vocalists and top musicians from very different horizons, including some members of the Mâäk collective. In order to be as close as possible to the power and energy of these repertoires, the project also invites the female singer-percussionists from B’net Chaabi.
In March 2023 the group releases its first album on the Zephyrus label during a tour in a.o. Flanders, Brussels and the Netherlands. Concerts can be combined with workshops led by Laïla and members of B’net Chaabi about the origins of chaabi music and the role of women in the (oral) transmission of traditional music.
Laïla Amezian, Emanuela Lodato, Farida Zouj, Marie-Ange Teuwen & Fatou Traoré: vocals
B’net Chaabi – Jamila Akhdim, Karima Arabi, Kawtar Abdoune & Mehdiya Sultana: vocals & percussion
Laurent Blondiau & Pauline Leblond: trumpets
Toine Thys & Grégoire Tirtiaux: saxophones
Michel Massot, Nabou Claerhout & Adrien Lambinet: tuba, trombones
Jean Gnonlonfoun: drums
Ahmed Khaili: percussion
Info & booking
Koen Stynen – firstname.lastname@example.org
Sheikhs Shikhats & B’net Chaabi is a production in collaboration with HalfmOon. With the support of the Vlaamse overheid voor Bovenlokale Cultuurprojecten, VGC Erfgoed, Samenwerkingsakkoord Vlaamse Gemeenschap et Communauté Française, COCOF Service Culture-Musique et Un Futur pour la Culture-Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles.
Photos © Lara Herbinia & Shamrockraver