WFMU's Rob Weisberg (host of the Transpacific Sound Paradise program) recently attended the amazing Fes Festival of Sacred Music, held in the medieval city of Fes, Morocco. The festival brings together prominent musicians from the three Abrahamic religions: Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, for a weeklong celebration of sounds. While the visceral joys of experiencing amazing music against the backdrop of Roman ruins and Moorish gardens can't really be overstated, it should be noted that the festival has a broader agenda: It was launched in 1994 as a pro-peace response to the first Gulf War.
Here is the first installment of Rob's account of the trip. Look for more in the coming days, or check out his radio show this Saturday from 6-9 PM for more discussion of the sights, tastes, and sounds, as well as music by many of the featured artists..
I knew right away this was going to be a special trip. The Royal Air Maroc flight from JFK to Casablanca is typically packed with not only Americans and Moroccans, but also Sub-Saharans who are making connections back home. The latter tends to be an especially elegant crowd. To the left of me sat a handsomely attired young Senegalese woman and to the right an earthier and rather chatty woman with roots in Guinea and Sierra Leone. She told me that she'd actually traveled to Sierra during the fighting there, and managed to escape thanks to a very unofficial ferry service. She also told me that one of her kin had been married to none other than S.E. Rogie, the legendary Sierra Leone singer-songwriter who lived in the US for many years. She went on to dish some dirt that defied the typically cheery world-music bios of Rogie: His will had specified that he was to be buried in Sierra Leone, but when the casket arrived, it was turned away by his family--who clamed that he'd abandoned them.