The Iconic Ma’alem of Gnaoua Music Guinia

Mahmoud Guinia was a celebrated Gnaoua musician who was born in 1951 in the city of Essaouira, Morocco. He was born into a family of musicians and began playing the guembri, a traditional Moroccan bass instrument used in Gnaoua music, at a very young age. Guinia went on to become one of the most renowned and respected Gnaoua musicians of his time, both in Morocco and around the world.

Guinia’s music was deeply rooted in the Gnaoua tradition, a style of music that has been played in Morocco for centuries and is closely associated with the country’s Sufi Muslim community. The music is characterized by a mix of African rhythms and traditional Islamic songs, and is often played during religious ceremonies and festivals.

Guinia’s mastery of the guembri and his unique vocal style made him a sought-after performer and collaborator. He performed with musicians from around the world, including jazz musicians such as Pharoah Sanders and Randy Weston. His collaborations with British world music group, The Master Musicians of Jajouka, earned him worldwide recognition, and he was also featured on several recordings by American blues guitarist, Robert Plant.

Guinia received many accolades for his contributions to music, including the Medal of Honor from the Moroccan Ministry of Culture. In 2011, he was posthumously awarded the prestigious WOMEX (World Music Expo) Artist Award, which recognized his contribution to world music and his ability to bridge the gap between different cultures through his music.

Guinia passed away in 2015 at the age of 64, but his legacy continues to live on through his music and the many musicians he influenced. He remains an important figure in Moroccan music and is widely regarded as one of the greatest Gnaoua musicians of all time.