Pop artist Ghita, a Berklee College of Music student from Casablanca, Morocco, will open for superstars Maroon 5 at the 14th annual Festival Mawazine Rythmes du Monde in Rabat, Morocco, on Saturday, June 6. The concert is on the closing night of the nine-day festival that has drawn one million people in past years. In addition to Maroon 5, headliners include Jennifer Lopez, Pharrell Williams, Avicii, Sean Paul, Usher, Akon, and Placebo.
Ghita’s initiative helped her secure the coveted slot. Through social media, one of her songs caught the attention of a Moroccan radio station. Festival Mawazine organizers heard the song and invited her to submit videos – including “The Wave” – for consideration. “I am a very driven person and I kept pursuing the bigger opportunity until they realized where my ambitions were,” said Ghita, who subsequently gained approval from Maroon 5’s management to open for them.
She had attended the festival in the past. “I was in the crowd three years ago to see Kanye West and it blew my mind. I knew I wanted to be on stage but I would never have imagined this,” she said. “This is by far the biggest opportunity I’ve had. I’ve learned so much already and I feel blessed to be able to open for an international pop star in my own country.”
At the festival, Ghita will perform original songs from the group’s forthcoming debut EP. The EP was recorded in Los Angeles and is a collaborative effort performed and produced by Berklee students and alumni. Ghita, who wrote or co-wrote all of the songs, describes the sound as pop with a summertime feel with a combination of Middle Eastern, Indian, and Arabic rhythms. While she hadn’t done any songwriting before coming to Berklee, the atmosphere at the college and Melissa Ferrick’s Lyric Writing class inspired her to work towards writing one song per day.
Ghita’s band is composed of Berklee students from around the world. Jakob Rabitsch, an Austrian keyboardist and producer, has arranged music for Dancing with the Stars and won several band contests in Vienna and in the U.S. Johannes Gritschacher, a drummer and producer from Seeboden, Austria, has received accolades including the Drummer of Tomorrow award and the Kiwanis Award for Exceptional Talents. Elin Sandberg, a bassist from Uppsala, Sweden, is skilled on both upright and electric bass, and has worked with Terri Lyne Carrington and Hozier. Guitarist Juan Carreno, from Bogotá, Colombia, has worked with Lenny Pickett and Kirby Lauryen, and has also been developing his producing skills. Guitarist Ed Graves, from Bath, England, has recorded with alt-J and performed live with the Boston Pops.