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Mahmoud Guinia
Maalem Mahmoud Guinia.jpg
Background information
Born 1951
Essaouira, Morocco
Origin Morocco
Died 2 August 2015(2015-08-02) (aged 64)
Genres Gnawa
Instruments Guembri, Krakebs, Ganga

Mahmoud Guinia (Arabic: محمود ﯕينيا , and rarely ﯕنيا or کانية also spelled Gania, Guinea or Khania; 1951 – 2 August 2015) was a Moroccan Gnawa musician, singer and guembri player, who was traditionally regarded as a Maâllem (معلم محمود ﯕينيا), i.e. master.

He recorded for both domestic and foreign labels, and collaborated with numerous western musicians.


Guinia was born in 1951 in the city Essaouira on the Atlantic coast. He was the second son of the master of Gnawa music, Maâllem Boubker Guinia (1927–2000) and the famous clairvoyant and "moqaddema" A'isha Qabral. His brothers Mokhtar Guinia and Abdellah Guinia are gnawa Maâllems too, and their sister Zaida is another moqqaddema. Mahmoud Guinia was married to a woman from Marrakech, with whom he had two sons and a daughter.

His family of both the father's and mother's sides came from present day Mali. They were employed as soldiers in the sultan's army. They are regarded as the main representatives for the style of Essaouira, the Saouiri style.

Guinia died after a lengthy illness on 2 August 2015.

His sons continue the tradition both being Maâllem of the Saouiri style, notably Maallem Houssam Guinia.


Mahmoud Guinia released numerous recordings, which have not all been well documented. In the 1970s Moroccan music label Fikriphone released records of both live Lila ceremonies and studio sessions. In the following decades it was followed by Tichkaphone, whose materials were distributed in France by Sonodisc, and Agadir's La Voix El Maarif.

The most famous western release, The Trance Of Seven Colors, was co-produced by Bill Laswell and Eric Rosenzveig in 1994 and featured the American saxophone player Pharoah Sanders along with family members of Mahmoud's ensemble including his brothers Mohktar and Abdellah. The ensemble included Abdellah Ahkaraz. The Black Mluks was recorded and produced by Eric Rosenzveig in Montreal in 1992 at Radio Canada and released on P-Vine Records in Japan. Upon returning to Morocco with the master tapes, Mahmoud sold the Moroccan rights to the cassette label Le Voix El Maarif (LVEM) who released it as El Maaleem Mahmoud Gania - Soiree Au Canada. The recordings were part of the first trip Maleem Guinia and his ensemble made out of Morocco, to perform at the Festival Musiques et Traditions du Monde, the 350th Anniversary of the City of Montreal.

Another release, The WELS Concert, with Peter Brötzmann and Hamid Drake, was recorded at Wels's 1996 Music Unlimited festival. The Shaman of the Sahara music recordings were released in 2001 with Maâllem Mahmoud Guinia in collaboration with Tata Guines, Victor Vidal Paz and various Indonesian musicians.

In September 2017 his final studio recordings (recorded in 2013 at Plein Les Oreilles studios in Casablanca with producer Ali Faraoui) were released on double vinyl by UK record label, Hive Mind Records. The remastered album is titled Colours of the Night.

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