CMA Ohio City Stages II

CMA Ohio City Stages, presented by Charter One, continues its celebration of summer with world-class music performances. The past few events have featured artists from Mali, Romania and Honduras—and there are more global sounds to come. Morocco’s Aziz Sahmaoui & University of Gnawa and Peru’s Novalima complete the series that wraps up July 31. We’ll cover some of the musicology behind these two bands in this second blog on CMA Ohio City Stages. 

Aziz Sahmaoui

Aziz Sahmaoui and University of Gnawa take the stage Wednesday, July 24. Their music is a blend of traditional Moroccan gnawa music infused with jazz and rock elements. Gnawa is a mixture of Arab northern African sound with black sub-Saharan African rhythm. Morocco’s traditional gnawa music was performed to induce trance and promote healing. It has its own style of call-and-response singing and dance moves that include crouching, leaping and twirling. While Sahmaoui avoids the acrobatic dance moves, he masters the gnawa’s signature instrument, the ngoni—a long-necked, three stringed lute. He also plays the mandole—an elongated mandolin-type instrument popular in North African music. His band, the University of Gnawa, mix gnawa’s healing trance beats with influences from their home-country of Senegal. Currently based out of Paris, Aziz Sahmaoui and University of Gnawa have an eclectic and worldly sound that combines old and new world. 


Novalima calls on their country’s African heritage as well. Like so many western countries, Peru had a history of slavery dating back to Spanish colonial rule in the 1500s. Enslaved Africans carried their traditions with them to South America and in Peru, created a minority culture that combined Spanish, African and indigenous elements. Afro-Peruvian music mixes African rhythms with instruments from Europe and the Andes. Striking a balance between tradition and innovation, Novalima combines Afro-Peruvian music with the sounds of contemporary DJ culture. This modern approach has helped bring Afro-Peruvian music to a new, younger generation in Peru and around the world. Influences from rock and salsa to reggae and dance music can be heard in their upbeat style. Novalima is the series’ final act and will take the stage on Wednesday, July 31.

Join us outside the Transformer Station in Ohio City Wednesday nights throughout July and experience these internationally acclaimed music artists.

—Therese Conway


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