Paula Jeanine Bennett : The palpable sense of history in Fez is astonishing

Paula headshot-Sean Uoo
Paula headshot-Sean Uoo



 Can you tell us more about you and your artistic career?

I am a pluridisciplinaire: musician, composer, poet and visual artist. I moved to New York City from Cleveland, Ohio at the age of 26, looking for wider opportunities. Originally I worked as a jazz singer as well as a percussionist in collaboration with dance. I still do both, but my artistic life blossomed, especially when the focus of my work changed dramatically. It has become more about the world than myself, and about the path of spirit.


 You have been taking your project “Village Of One” to many countries, and in fusion with many cultures. What is it about, and what inspires you to organize it?

“Village of One” is my response to modern life in my home city of Brooklyn, New York. Originally I developed “Village” in rural Java, Indonesia, where I first set the work at the Jatiwangi Art Factory in 2012. Themes of solitude, community, women’s stories and transformation are explored through song and theater. “Village” is malleable and I adapt it to the host location to help enliven the telling of the story. And a monster, there always has to be a monster. The Boujloud in the Sefrou production was unforgettable, played by Khalil Lazar. I still smile when I think about him insulting the audience in his sheepskin!

Village of one, Meknes, Othman El Youbi
Village of one, Meknes, Othman El Youbi

 What inspires you in Morocco, especially in Fez?

Morocco has a mystique and an artistic exuberance that thrills me every time I have the pleasure of visiting. The palpable sense of history in Fez is astonishing. When I am there I feel like I am part of the ribbon of time itself. Descending into the medina is a visceral experience like none other. There are incredible layers of history to be discovered when one takes the time to look closely. It has a special place in my psyche.

 You have performed lately in the International Festival of Haddarattes (Sufi Women). How was it?

I performed at the festival with my current collaborative project Kloub Nssa (Heart Of Women), that I have created with the Haddarattes Souiriyattes. The project features some of my compositions as well as traditional Haddaratte songs that I have responded to with English lyrics. The performance at the festival was unforgettable, as the ambience of Essaouira is so strong. Here is a link to our work:


 Any future projects?

I will be going to Java, Indonesia this November to participate in the Festival Budaya Anak Bangsa Festival. I will collaborate with a large community of young artists and as well as a gamelan orchestra from Bali. The performance will be at the Taman Ismail Marzuki, the terrific arts center of Jakarta.
And I am looking for new collaborations in Morocco. Coming to a place I love so much as an artist is a very different experience than just coming as a tourist. I feel I can offer my heart.

4 Replies to “Paula Jeanine Bennett : The palpable sense of history in Fez is astonishing”

  1. Alice Klugherz says:

    This is really beautiful and expresses the Paula Jeanine Bennett that I know and love she is deeply talented and Mary’s this talent with a commitment to community like no one I have ever met before. It’s sophisticated and it’s tribal.
    Her work is clear and she takes everyone with her

  2. Marvellous!
    The world needs much more of this caring, connecting, and creating from the heart of what is really important. You are shining a light for us all.
    Thanks so much.

  3. Thank you so much for this profile, TAKAFES!

  4. Alice Klugherz says:

    I left a reply above but it turns out no one can see it

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