Press Release: Silver Sahara Brings Instruments of Africa to Island Music Store

February 24, 2021



Media Contact: Carolina Cooney


Silver Sahara Brings Instruments of Africa to Island Music Store

Vineyard Haven, MA – In a unique collaboration, two Martha’s Vineyard businesses, Silver Sahara and Island Music, have teamed up to bring an assortment of instruments handmade in Morocco to the island. The instruments were made in Essaouira, Morocco, a coastal town known for the Gnawa music genre, which mixes classical Islamic Sufism with pre-Islamic African traditions, and whose origins are attributed to formerly enslaved Black Africans who integrated into Moroccan culture. 

The instruments include a wide variety of drums, some with eel skin drumheads; large metal castanets called Qarkabeb; Moroccan horns -- like those used by Moroccan snake charmers; and the Moroccan Outar, a type of guitar. “Working with Silver Sahara has enabled us at Island Music to acquire handmade Moroccan instruments. We are very excited to be able to offer these regional string instruments, drums, and horns that are uniquely decorated and are not commonly found in most music stores in the United States,” Island Music’s Rich Giaimo enthuses.

In 2016, Carolina Cooney of West Tisbury, Massachusetts, traveled to Morocco and became enraptured with Morocco’s vibrant culture and timeless handicrafts. Shortly thereafter she partnered with the Moroccan merchant Mohamed el Fassi, and together they created the company Silver Sahara, which offers a wide variety of handmade items from Morocco and North Africa. Cooney asserts: “It’s really exciting to share Morocco’s amazing artistry with the island of Martha’s Vineyard by sourcing instruments for Island Music. The Moroccan tourism industry has been devastated by Covid-19, and opportunities like this are imperative for the cultural survival of Morocco’s indigenous artisans.”

Island Music is located at 58 Main St in Vineyard Haven. Silver Sahara is located at 10 Old Courthouse Rd in West Tisbury, and online at For more information, please visit, or phone 530-228-7059.