Descendants of the former slaves from the kingdom of Morocco, the Gnawa belong to a brotherhood that practices healing for mental illness using trance ceremonies called “Lila”. Religious syncretism between the beliefs of the folks of sub-Saharian Africa and Islam, the “Lila” honors and calls for the help of the “entities” to cure the lost souls. Since a couple of years, the Gnawa often separate the sacred and the profane and present themselves on the stages all around the world, spreading and showing their traditions.
In the sacred or in the profane, the master of ceremonies, the Maâlem, guides the music with his guembri (a traditional bass with wood and skin using two strings) and leads the vocals. Backing vocals repeat the melodies and respond to the Maâlem, with the “karkabout” (sort of metal castanets), and regarding to the entity invoked will also dance.
Ray Lema and Mâalem Abdeslam Allikane have met in 2000 for the year of Morocco in France. They released together the album “SAFI”(which means “We agree”), which is the result of the fusion and work with the band of Mâalem Allikane: Tyour Gnawa. They toured for the following years in Europe, West Africa, Brazil and Canada.
In 2011, the Mâalem called back Ray Lema for a new collaboration. Ray Lema traveled to Morocco, and recorded the Mâalem in studio, to present his work on a solo album. “TAGNA” will be released in France for the autumn 2012.