Two years ago on February 14th, Ammouri Mbarek , better known as the renovator of the Amazigh Music, lost his battle with cancer at the age of 64. A tribute to Mbarek’s life will be held Sunday, February 14th, 2017 at his hometown village of Imezghalen in Taroudant.
Ammouri Mbarek is a Moroccan Amazigh artist born in the village of Irguiten, situated in the heights of the Atlas Mountains in Troudant, in 1951. As a child, he was a shepherd who used to hum different songs while grazing the family herd in the fields. At the age of 8 years old, the brutal death of his parents led him to the nearby orphanage of Taroudant. He continued his studies in Arabic and French, loosing the fluency of his native Berber dialect.
In 1969, Ammouri founded a musical group called ‘the Birds’ along with his high school friends who were influenced by Anglo-Saxon music. The group performed mainly in French. At the beginning of the 1970’s, he left to Agadir city to look for a job. In the same era, the famous group ‘Nass el Ghiwane’ was prominent and greatly respected as a professional group on the scene of the pop music.
Later on, Ammouri joined another musical band and together they founded a new group in the town of Tiznit, called ‘the Souss Five’. They sang mainly in Arabic. Nevertheless, encouraged by a member of the AMREC, an organization of Amazigh music renovation based in Rabat, he moved to Rabat for the purpose of music researching for the Amazigh research and heritage preservation.
The group ‘Ousman’ was founded in 1973. However, after five years of success and performances in different European cities such as Paris, Bruxelles, and Lyon, the group broke up in 1978. In 1985, Ammouri won the third award in the Muhammadia Music festival in 1985 for the song of Ali Azaykou: ‘Gennevilliers’.
Ammouri, then went solo and released his first solo album ‘Tazwit nera nek dim a nmun’, translated in English as ‘Bee I Wanna be your Company on your Way’. The album was composed by Mohamed Mestaoui. Ammouri continued innovating the Amazigh music and digging deep in its heritage. He performed the texts of most Amazigh lyricists such as Azayko, Moustaoui, Akhiyyat. In his songs he evokes love, exile, and lost identity.