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)
CHICAGO READER (USA)
WORLD MUSIC CENTRAL (USA)
BOSTON GLOBE – “Nawal’s musical journey to liberation” (USA)
FINANCIAL TIMES (USA)
DAILY NEWS LA (USA)
AFROSOLO ARTS FESTIVAL, San Francisco (USA)
GLOBAL RHYTHM Magazine, “Kweli” CD Review (USA)
LE MAHORAIS (MAYOTTE)
SPIN THE GLOBE (USA)
AFROPOP Magazine (USA)
- Embrace the Spirit / Caresse de lâme (2011 Jade/Milan)
- Aman (2007 Nawali Productions/DOM)
- Kweli (2001 Mélodie / 2005 Nawal)
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… !