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Morocco's Gnaoua World Music Festival celebrates its African roots

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By Daniel Bellamy
Morocco's Gnaoua World Music Festival celebrates its African roots

Morocco's 21st Gnaoua World Music Festival has ended in the seaside town of Essaouira after assaulting the senses of almost half a million festival-goers.

Gnaoua musicians from across the country celebrated their centuries' old musical traditions with their hypnotic singing and acrobatic dance moves.

Its songs and rhythms, are a mixture of Islamic Sufist and pre-Islamic African music and are intended to send its listeners into a trance.

American Jazz Fusion band Snark Puppy who are three times Grammy award winners, and Maahlem Hamid El Kasri performed togethered on stage, just one of many cross cultural collaborations.

And the "Benin International Musical" from the West African state of Benin played with young Moroccan Ganoui maestro Hassan Boussou.

"This festival is a real melting pot for music and a bridge of cultural dialogue," said the festival's director Neila Taz.

Gnaoua is considered to be at the roots of Blues, Rythem & Bues and Rock and many musicians including Jimmy Hendrix, Robert Plant, Jimmy Page were influenced by it.

For centuries many Moroccans have considered Gnaoua music capable of treating psychological disoders.

The name "Gnaoua" is derived from the West African state of Guinea and some of the stories told through it songs relate to slavery.

Those songs were handed down from black Africans who were once enslaved in Morocco but who have since been integrated into the North African's country's society and culture.