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Hind Ennaira, Gnawa’s New Icon (Interview)

Written by FDM

Hind Ennaira, a young rising star from Essaouira has always had a love for music and was determined to make a name for herself in a male-dominated genre. The self-taught artist, who performed for the first time on the Gnawa festival tour this year, is one of the rare young women who master the Guembri instrument. On Oct 1st, this new icon of Gnawa music offered the Jazz au Chellah festival, a remarkable collaboration stage with the Jazz band Ernesto Montenegro. 

How did the collaboration with the jazz band Ernesto Montenegro Quintet go?

It was an interesting experience. We kicked off rehearsals with introductions to each other’s universes, as it was their first encounter with Gnawa music and my first experience with Jazz instruments. It didn’t take long before they caught to the rhythm of Ganawa and I surrendered to Jazz melodies. We finished the rehearsals in two hours yesterday and added a little improv before the show and hopefully, we can vibe more on stage tonight along with the audience.

How was the beginning in the music field? 

As the native genre of the city, all I grew up listening to is Gnawa music so I naturally fell in love with it. I started getting interested in a career in music at the age of 16. My parents were opposed to the idea at first, as it’s a genre dominated by men. My mother used to cut my Guembri cords to prevent me from playing. Gradually, with perseverance, I gained popularity in my city and started receiving acclaim from big Maalems in the field encouraging me to pursue a career in Gnawa.

Was it challenging? 

It was and it definitely still is. I faced a lot of disapproval from people in the field, especially the men. I can’t attribute it to a specific reason, but I can say that jealousy is a major factor.  However, I am aware that the number of supporters exceeds detractors and so I’m continuing my journey in high spirits.

What’s your ultimate goal? 

My ultimate goal is to represent Gnawa art on an international level. A world tour is one of my dreams as it will allow me to reach out to a bigger audience and introduce my music.