Wide Angle

Jazzablanca 2024 : Candy Dulfer & Hind Ennaira unite Jazz and Gnaoua for women

Dutch saxophonist and singer Candy Dulfer captivated the audience at the 17th Jazzablanca festival (June 6-8, 2024) with her greatest hits from the 1980s and 1990s. Closing the concert with a humanist message, she was joined by mâalma Hind Ennaira for a festive fusion of jazz, Gnaoua, and African rhythms.

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«The Message» conveyed a message of love that Candy Dulfer wanted to share with her Moroccan audience at the 17th edition of the Jazzablanca festival (June 6-8, 2024). A headliner at this year's event, the Dutch saxophonist and singer chose to play one of her unreleased tracks. «In a world on fire right now», she declared to her many fans in front of the Casa Anfa stage, launching into the song.

Blending jazz, funk and pop, Candy Dulfer also took her audience on a journey through time, from her flagship track «Lily Was Here» from her very first album, released in 1989, to the hits of her latest opus, available since 2022. Celebrating her reunion with Morocco, since her first appearance at Jazzablanca in 2015, she also says she's delighted to meet and collaborate with local artists. Setting the stage ablaze at the close of a colorful concert, she joined her saxophone to the guembri of mâalma Hind Ennaira, both accompanied by their musicians for an original musical work, between Gnaoua, jazz, and other African sounds.

«Since I first came here, I've found that Jazzablanca is now a big, well-known festival. Playing here with Hind Ennaira on my return was the best idea, especially in these times when we're caught up in history», Candy Dulfer told Yabiladi.

Music to bridge differences

«I come from the Netherlands, a country with a large Moroccan diaspora. I also come from a country with a history of slavery. The whole spirit of Gnaoua music is an ode to freedom, peace and against slavery. I think these times are telling us that it's more important than ever for all of us to reconnect with each other», added Candy Dulfer.

«When Hind Ennaira and I first met for this artistic collaboration, we couldn't find the words to communicate. But as soon as we started playing our instruments, everything else fell into place. If we can do that through music, we can get to know each other. I see before me a strong young woman with a big heart. Each of us has an instrument in our hands to speak to others. Just as the two of us were able to do it, I think the whole world can do it too».

Candy Dulfer

For her very first appearance at Jazzablanca, Hind Ennaira said she was «honored to take the stage with Candy Dulfer, who is a great artist known worldwide». «We know that with its eclectic continental influences, Gnaoua music can go with different styles from here and elsewhere. With Candy Dulfer's style, the harmony was immediately there, and the current passed quickly. We found ourselves speaking the same language, and we didn't need anything else to understand each other, to know what each other would like to say or how we'd like to do things», says the mâalma.

These sounds are no stranger to Candy Dulfer, who has evolved within Amsterdam's very diverse music scene, as she recalls to Yabiladi: «Given the large Moroccan presence in this universe, I was led to listen to this style, without initially knowing that it was indeed Gnaoua music. And yet, I felt it to be a true soul mate of jazz».

«I hear Moroccan music and African music generally as having rhythms that correspond very much to an instrument like mine and to different types of jazz. It's a reflection of what our world should be: we can be singularly different from each other. But once we find the right note to tune to, there's no stopping us. That's the beauty of things that come from the heart».

Candy Dulfer

Breaking through the glass ceiling in the music world

In addition to its artistic aspect, this collective work orchestrated by Candy Dulfer and Hind Ennaira has taken on a dimension of promoting the presence of women on the music scene. In other words, it helps to illustrate a response to preconceived ideas about the artistic milieu, which is still seen as very male-dominated. «I really think it and I really see it. People can set limits for you, telling you that you can't go beyond them. As soon as you cross that barrier, the limit is lifted», the saxophonist told Yabiladi.

«From the moment you go far beyond an artistic barrier that has been set for you, there's no catching you, no taking you back. I went through all that myself. It was very difficult for me to be in the role of a female musician at the start of my career. But then I realized that a lot of men themselves were pushing me forward and telling me to do what I was doing. Since then, things have changed and a lot of young girls are playing saxophone, which is a great thing. But it all started just 40 years ago».

Candy Dulfer

For the Dutch artist, «Hind Ennayra is also one of those girls who grew up in a musical world where they managed to change perceptions towards their presence, their role or the idea of playing the guembri». «I'm sure many girls are following her example because they know, through her, that they can hold this instrument in their hands and be accepted as artists», added Candy Dulfer.

«I'm also sure that a lot of people enjoy seeing us with a guembri on stage, and that's the most important thing for me. We're here to create works that we love to share with our audience», said Hind Ennaira.

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