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30 May 2017


I come from Zaragoza in Spain, which used to be known as Medina Albaida (the white city) and at the time of its greatest cultural splendour it was comparable to Córdoba or Baghdad. In 1075, a little before its conquest and conversion to Christianity by King Alfonso I of Aragón, the great philosopher, sage, musician and poet Ibn Bâjja was born there. He lived a large part of his life in the city and died in 1139 in Fez (Morocco), another ancient city which is where my partner Nabyla Maan comes from. That is why we evoke that period of artistic blossoming and exchange between the three Abrahamic religions by opening the record with a poem by Ibn Bâjja that we have adapted and set to music together as a preface to a new version of my 2005 song, “Zaragoza, la romana”, as a “Moor and Christian” duet. The melody is the famous Valencian paso doble from the Festival of Moors and Christians, “Paquito el Chocolatero”, and the lyrics refer to this history.

As our partnership came about through the 2015 collaboration between the music festivals “Pirineos Sur” in Huesca and “L’Boulevard” in Casablanca, there was no better title for our record than “Dos Medinas Blancas” (“Two White Medinas”). It is a dialogue between two modern voices that represent sister cultures – the Iberian culture of the Ebro (the Roman Iberus river) and the Maghreb culture of North Africa – in which we both sing from the other’s repertoire, despite not speaking the language. This gives us both a new type of sound, which is completed by three Spanish musicians and two Moroccan musicians who skilfully navigate between the two lands with knowledge and expertise in a recording that is as organic as our cohabitation through our rehearsals and concerts.

A fluid dialogue through the magic of deep-rooted music that can dissolve barriers and prejudices. This record is of cultures that are linked without losing their identity, singing about another possible world. Songs with another kind of logic are not just possible today as they were yesterday; rather, they are urgently needed.