Botanic Park will once again be transformed into a global melting pot of sights and sounds when WOMADelaide rolls into town this long weekend. Treat your ears to everything from the sounds of Cuban mambo’s golden era to the beatbox rhythms of a Finnish foursome. We’ve picked out 10 highlights from the 2020 festival.
10 things to see at WOMADelaide
Civil rights icon, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and Grammy Award-winner Mavis Staples led the first artist announcement for WOMAD. The US singer has been hailed as a defining voice of peace and a once-in-a-generation artist. Her most recent album, We Get By, was written and produced by Ben Harper.
The Cat Empire
The Cat Empire are making their fifth appearance at WOMADelaide, and those who have been lucky enough to see any of their previous festival performances will know they’re in for another treat when the Australian band close the main stage line-up on Friday night. Expect a joyful, high-energy show featuring music from both their latest album (Stolen Diamonds) and earlier releases. Cat Empire members Felix Riebl and Ollie McGill also wrote and produced the music for Spinifex Gum, which is playing at WOMADelaide on Saturday and features the young Indigenous singers of Marliya, from Gondwana Choirs.
Dubbed “the Golden Voice of Africa”, Mali Afro-pop musician Salif Keita will play the final Saturday night Foundation Stage show with an eight-piece band. The performance is part of a farewell tour for Keita, who has been making music for 50 years and released his final album, Autre Blanc (Another White), in 2019. He will also take part in an artist-in-conversation talk at 5pm on Sunday in the Frome Park Pavilion.
The Blind Boys of Alabama
The Blind Boys of Alabama’s original members first sang together as children at the Alabama Institute for the Negro Blind in the late 1930s. They’re now recognised worldwide as living legends of gospel music, having received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. The group sing everything from traditional gospel favourites to contemporary spiritual music by songwriters such as Eric Clapton, Prince and Tom Waits. They’ve appeared on recordings with a host of artists, including Willie Nelson, Lou Reed, Peter Gabriel and Ben Harper. In the early 1960s, the group sang at benefits for Martin Luther King Junior and were part of the soundtrack to the Civil Rights movement.
Traditional Finnish folk music with a twist. Tuuletar will bring their fierce, fresh beatbox rhythms and other-worldly harmonies to WOMADelaide. Pioneers of the vocal folk hop genre, the singers won the Finnish EMMA award — equivalent to a Grammy — for the best ethno album in 2017.
As the World Tipped
A theatrical offering, As the World Tipped is a politically-charged performance focused on the environment by English company, Wired Aerial Theatre. The show will be presented nightly in Frome Park, where the set towers 13 metres above the audience. The ambitious aerial performance intertwines dance, theatrics and projections that illustrate the realities of climate change.
Trio Da Kali
Mali’s Trio Da Kali come from a long line of griots (hereditary musicians) and are a supergroup from the Mande culture. Their 2017 collaboration with San Francisco’s Kronos Quartet brought them worldwide attention. They team vocals, the ngoni and percussion for their exquisite sound.
Australian singer-songwriter Odette takes inspiration from a melting pot of cultures. Her soulful voice and poetic lyrics have seen her gain popularity at home and internationally. Odette’s debut album, To a Stranger garnered her fans, 30 million streams, two consecutive Triple J Hottest 100 entries and two ARIA nominations, including for Breakthrough Artist. On top of the success of her album, Odette has performed on two sold out tours of Australia and made appearances as far afield as Dublin, London, Zurich and Paris.
Catrin Finch & Seckou Keita
After a serendipitous meeting in 2012, the musical collaboration of classical harpist Catrin Finch and griot kora master Seckou Keita was born. Together, they’ve built a reputation for their innovative performances, drawing on their diverse traditions — Mandinka rhythms mixed with Welsh tunes.
Maestro violinist L Subramaniam’s music is part meditation, part celebration. The Indian musician has amassed more than 200 recordings since the 1970s, composing for orchestras, films and ballets. He has also published books and won multiple awards.