Exploring all corners of world music, each year Womad Festival will almost certainly provide a few musical discoveries that will have you wondering where these acts had been hiding all this time. This year is sure to do the same, with a line up boasting enough music from numerous styles and cultures to have even the most avid of world music fans in a festival planning tizzy.
In our bid to give you a small (and we mean small) helping hand, we’ve compiled a list of our top 10 acts to catch at the festival this weekend.
Womad kicks of tomorrow at Charlton Park from 24th to 26th July, for your tickets head here.
With their anticipated performance at Womad set to mark a whopping 73rd gig of the year; its clear the Diaz twins have been in high demand of late and for good reason too. Expect goosebumps when listening to Ibeyi‘s deep rhythmical sounds channelling the influences of their French-Cuban heritage and Nigerian ancestry, felt just as strongly when sung beautifully both in English and in Yoruba.
Another standout is pianist, composer and director Christophe Chassol who’s audiovisual experimentations we are no strangers to here at Stamp. Chassol will take the audience on a journey of sensory experience with a live performance of his ‘ultrascore’ composition to the on stage screening of his film Big Sun.
3. Atomic Bomb
Everyone likes a good story. Nigerian synth-funk pioneer of the 70s and 80s, William Onyeabor released eight albums before abandoning music and becoming a priest. In 2013, Luaka Bop (the label of Talking Heads’ David Byrne) released the compilation Who Is William Onyeabor? and all was right in the world. The Atomic Bomb! band are a fluid supergroup, with past performances featuring Byrne himself, Damon Albarn and Alexis Taylor. Having seen them before at Bristol’s Colston Hall, we know this will be one to remember.
Composer, collaborator and vocalist ESKA brings her unique mix of soul, folk and psychedelic music to Charlton Park. Her effortlessly delicate vocals and blissful experimental self productions have transcended her already successful career over and above her numerous past musical projects with the likes of Zero 7, Matthew Herbert and Bobby McFerrin to name a few. Don’t miss this one asleep in the spa!
5. The Very Best
A favourite since their 2009 Warm Heart of Africa, The Very Best is a collaboration between Malawian Esau Mwamwaya and Radioclit (Etienne Tron and Johan Karlberg). They met when Mwamwaya sold a bicycle to Tron; how all good friendships start. Electro-afro-pop and impressive collabs aplenty, we defy you not to dance.
6. Mbongwana Star
This exciting seven-piece are definitely leading the way for congolese music at the moment. Mbongwana Star‘s captivating sound is a contorted mix of emotions in mantra like phrases with traditional Congolese guitar at its core. Prepare to be hypnotised into eery and futuristic atmospheres of rhythm and electronic distortion.
7. The Staves
We’ve got a thing for sister acts. Hailing from Hertfordshire, the Staveley-Taylors harmonise like only siblings can. A bolder sound can be heard on their second album If I Was, perhaps due to Justin Vernon’s production. Expect some special scenes live at Womad!
8. Cheikh Lô
Senegalese Cheikh Lô first reached UK musical shores with is album Ne La Thiass in 1995 with label World Circuit. Having since gone on to record three more albums, Chiekh continues to fly the flag of his lulling style of the jazz and soulful Senegalese mbalax music.
9. Kassé Mady Diabaté
Malian musical royalty Kassé Mady Diabaté is often lauded as one of the finest singers in Africa, and rightly so. His newest album Kiriké is an intimately acoustic record, with Kassé Mady’s soulful vocals complemented by n’goni, balafon, kora and cello. Not much could be more apt for a midnight set on a Friday.
10. Sona Jobarteh
London born kora Virtuoso Sona Jobareth is the first professional female kora player from one of the 5 principal kora-playing families of West Africa, giving her first performance at the tender age of 4 years old at London’s Jazz Cafe. It is her obvious abundant talent and ability to connect multiple and converse on multiple issues including gender and cultural identity that have credited Sona’s rise rather than the fame of her relatives in her father Amadu Bansang Jobareth and cousin Toumani Diabate. Make you see what all the fuss is about for yourself.