photo © Emmanual Delaloy

a-ComorosMap-2

Nawal originally comes from the Comoros Islands, also known as the “Perfume Islands” or “Islands of the Moon,” located in the Indian Ocean off the eastern coast of Africa. Born into a family with many musicians, Nawal bathed in both popular and spiritual music from a young age. Now living in France, today she is recognised as being a key figure from her native islands: the ever rising star of Comoros.

A powerful singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, Nawal plays guitar, gambusi (traditional lute, inherited from Yemen), and diverse percussion. Nawal states “My main instrument, before anything, is the voice.” Aptly called a “mystic pop diva”, Nawal communicates something bigger than music – she has the capacity to touch people’s hearts with her powerful voice and message.

Between traditional and contemporary, Nawal’s compositions are an acoustic roots-based fusion, a reflection of the diverse character of the Comoros and beyond. Nawal sings mostly in Shikomor, the Bantu language of Comoros, and mixes in French, English and Arabic. Nawal sings in favor of all humans, for education and for union. She also conserves the philosophy of her great grandfather Al Maarouf, a grand Sufi master, who was inspired by the light of Islam founded on love, respect and peace.

A self-produced artist, Nawal has performed professionally for over 25 years, with concerts internationally in Europe, North America, Africa, the Indian Ocean and the Middle East. In 2011 Nawal celebrated the release of her solo album “Embrace the Spirit” (Jade/Universal). In 2007 Nawal released her second album “Aman” (Peace of the Soul) which was awarded stunning reviews from the international press. Her first album “Kweli” (Truth) was released in 2001 (Mélodie).

Nawal has toured solo, in a trio, a quartet and with the “Femmes de la Lune”, a group of 6 women from Mayotte who sing and dance the tradition of the islands. Today she is celebrating the release of the documentary film, “Nawal et les Femmes de la Lune” which follows Nawal during her quest exploring the ancient feminine Sufi musical traditions of the Indian Ocean, and the creation of the group. Click here for more info…

  • Voice ~ Nawal sings in Shikomor, Arabic, French and English. She also incorporates dzikr in her music, which is a sufi rhythmic devotional chanting
  • Guitar ~ Nawal’s first instrument was a handmade guitar in Comoros at age 7
  • Gambusi ~ traditional 4 stringed lute from Comoros Islands, made from 1 hollow body piece wood with goat skin.
  • Daf ~ a large Persian frame drum with with many metal ringlets attached, with a goatskin membrane.
  • Mbira ~ a traditional instrument from Zimbabwe made of wood with metal keys attached.
  • Flute ~ Nawal plays a harmonic flute crafted by a French artisan instrument maker.
  • Udu ~ a claypot drum originating from Nigeria
  • Halo ~ Handpan steel drum
  • … and whatever else she finds along her path… !
  • Nawal Solo ~ an ethereal voyage of many instruments, sounds and vocals
  • Nawal with invited guest artists for improvisation/creation – “Carte Blanche”
  • Nawal & les Femmes de la Lune – a choreographed performance with traditional and arranged music inspired by the repertoire of the feminine sufi music of Comoros Archipelago. An ensemble of up to 9 musicians including 6 women from Mayotte.

NEW YORK TIMES (USA)
“Aman…. one of the most notable world music CDs released over the last year…”
~ Jon Pareles

fROOTS (UK)
“Aman…downright gorgeous music…a record that’s going to become a long-term favourite”
~
 Ian Anderson

FNAC (FRANCE)
“This is an authentic and generous music, which draws its strength from the tradition of Comoros. Indeed, “Aman” is one of the most prominent African albums of this year. “Aman” is the revelation of a talent that deserves to be supported. ”
~ Marcel

L’EXPRESS (FRANCE)
“Nawal” The Voice of Comoros “incredible depth …. her version of the L’Amour Sorcier by Claude Nougaro, combines power and spirituality. Luminous.”
~ Gilles Medioni

AL-WATWAN (COMOROS)
“Singer/songwriter Nawal is like an orchestra in and of herself… with instruments more original than others. The whole album (Embrace the Spirit) is filled with wisdom and humanity, where every song is an invitation to voyage.”
~ Iza M’madi

CHICAGO READER (USA)
“On Embrace the Spirit (Milan), Nawal delivers a powerful one-woman meditation that salutes the recent uprisings in the Middle East and the human desire for freedom and peace.”
~ PM

WORLD MUSIC CENTRAL (USA)
“An embrace for the whole human race. The whole CD, in fact, seems designed to transport mind and soul to places beyond the material world. It gets you there with varying doses of rhythm, melody, wide open space and, most importantly, the lulling but strong voice of a singer the entire world would do well to pay attention to.”
~ Tom Orr

AFROPOP (USA)
“A self-styled vocalist, composer and string player (guitar and the long-necked lute called gambusi), Nawal hails from Comoros, an Island nation in the Indian Ocean.  She has a silver-in-the-rough voice that conveys wisdom and experience,  and her music is an unorthodox blend of Comoros tradition, Sufi spirituality, and more…. Nawal is a modern original with deep respect for the past, and passionate, though never naïve, hope for the future.”
~ Banning Eyre

BOSTON GLOBE “Nawal’s musical journey to liberation” (USA)
“Her music takes as its point of departure traditional Comorian sounds, which resonate with Arabic and African influences accumulated over centuries through the Indian Ocean trade… But if its predominant component is Comorian roots, “Aman” deviates in many ways, each one offering a glimpse of this woman’s unusual journey from a highly conservative family in a highly conservative nation to the liberated spirit that she has become.”
~ Siddhartha Mitter

FINANCIAL TIMES (USA)
” Aman has a mesmeric slow burn, combining the African and Islamic influences of the archipelago… “Meditation”, almost too pretty for its own good…”
~ David Honigmann 

DAILY NEWS LA (USA)
“Aman transiates to “peace of the soul,” so the title is an apt description of this album of Sufi chants and spiritual roots music… Her music mixes strong African rhythms with the airy acoustics of the Middle East, resulting in trancelike compositions that take you away from the worries of the world.”
~ Glenn Whipp

AFROSOLO ARTS FESTIVAL, San Francisco (USA)
“There are few singers I know that connect so deeply with their audiences on personal, spiritual and cross cultural grounds as Nawal. She is truly an ambassador for the healing power of music to bring peace and reconciliation between cultures that so regularly misunderstand one another.”
~ Thomas R. Simpson, Artistic Director

GLOBAL RHYTHM Magazine, Kweli” CD Review (USA)
“Bridging traditional acoustic instrumentation with soulful yearning, it is Nawal’s mostly-French-but-who-cares-what-language-it-is-vocals that tear in and grip onto that space, the one only music can find inside us… Nawal proves herself nothing short of a legend in the making.”
~ Jill Ettinger

LE MAHORAIS (MAYOTTE)
“[Nawal’s] concert last Thursday brought a diverse and varied public, and in the eyes of some was “one of the most remarkable shows of the year”. There is no doubt that she carries the dignity of an confirmed artist, a multi-instrumentalist who is ranked among the great names in world music.”
~ G.M (concert review of show at Koropa Club, Mayotte)

SPIN THE GLOBE (USA)
“From her opening vocal solo, it was clear that Nawal’s roots lie in Muslim Africa. Her trio… fed off the audience’s energy and produced an evening of sparse but rich music, often with a spiritual, trance-like vibe. You don’t often get that much spirit on a Monday night, and it’s got to be culturally healing to have Americans chanting in Arabic about peace.”
~ Scott Stevens, (DJ KAOS FM)

AFROPOP Magazine (USA)
“The album (Kweli) makes an impressive international debut. Nawal may be new to us, but this kind of maturity and integrity was clearly many years in the making.”
Banning Eyre

 

Nawal-ALBUMS

Other albums which Nawal participated in:

  • “Nawal & Les Femmes de la Lune” de Mayotte – CD/DVD Live – concert at Festival Villes des Musiques du Monde (2010 Art’et Moin/MAM)

  • Touloulou – “Aquarelle” (2005)

  • Putumayo Compilation “Women of Africa” (2004)

  • World Network Compilation “Island Blues” (2002)

  • Donna Africa (1995-1999) – Volume III (Caravanes – 1999)

  • Touloulou “Bonne Nouvelle” (Night & Day – 1998)

  • Malgache Connexion – “Bilo” (Silex – 1992)

2014 Arab Institute, Paris
2013 Berlin Philharmonic, Germany
2013 & 2009 Sauti za Busara, Zanzibar, Tanzania
2009 The Kennedy Center, Washington DC USA
2009 Musée de Quai Branly, Paris
2007 Sakifo Festival, Reunion Island
+ many concerts and tours around the world since 1995 (Europe, Africa, Indian Ocean, USA…)

More Coming soon… !