Ziggy Marley, Orbital Amongst First Acts Set for Womad 2019

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WOMAD, the global party that brings together music, culture and people from all over the world, today announces its first wave of artists taking to the stage at Charlton Park near Malmesbury in Wiltshire, 25-28 July 2019.

Now celebrating its thirty seventh year, WOMAD is a glorious melting pot of music, dance, food, art, spoken-word, poetry, science and more, embracing the joys of diversity and tolerance at a time when the world needs it more than ever.

Five-time Grammy award-winning reggae superstar Ziggy Marley (Jamaica) will bring the richest Jamaican heritage there is to the WOMAD stage with his soulful and empowered sounds. Over his career, he has honoured his family’s heritage in making music that has a social conscience, whilst asserting himself as a true reggae star in his own right. Joining him is Orbital (UK), the homegrown collective of house and techno legends who are back with a new album Monsters Exit to deliver one of their famed live shows that have transformed festivals across the globe. Dramatic virtuoso guitarist Anna Calvi (UK) will also bring her queer, beautiful and thunderous sounds to the WOMAD stage.

The ‘golden voice of Africa’ Salif Keita (Mali), will also grace the sunny fields of Wiltshire. The Malian afro-pop singer legend’s cocktail of pop, funk and jazz and African rhythms will set the stage alight. Funk legends Cymande (UK), are another act who combine the best of western and African musical traditions, and who recently reunited after a four-decade hiatus. Joining them will be the energetic, passionate Afro-punk band Tshegue (France/Democratic Republic of Congo) whose mix of tribal sounds with garage rock have made them one of the hottest groups on the Parisian scene, led by the astonishing Faty Sy Savanet.

Reggae reigns strong at this year’s festival, as the remarkable Brushy One String (Jamaica) joins the line-up. Orphaned and illiterate as a child, he played his guitar so hard he broke five of its six strings, and consequently went on to accomplish more with one string than most people can do with six. Decades later he brings the style that carried him from his Jamaican township and around the world. Also representing the Carribean, the trio Delgres (France) fusion of hypnotised rock, earthy soul and caustic garage links French, Caribbean and US cultures.

Petite Noir (South Africa) is a force of nature already, hurtling towards the stratosphere; he hit international airwaves in 2018 with his single Blame Fire, gaining critical and commercial success. Also making waves are Les Filles de Illighadad (Niger), the first ever all women “Tuareg” (or Desert Blues) band. From a tiny commune, their ancient and passionate music speaks to a proud and ancient tradition that is descended from centuries of songs that tell the remarkable story of the Tuareg people. Acclaimed singer, composer and oud player Dhafer Youssef (Tunisia) combines mystical and jazz influences with Arabic lyricism and electronic, funky grooves to achieve beautiful sounds, whilst Nadine Shah (UK) draws on her Pakistani/Norwegian heritage to create a brooding and intense blend of pop and jazz-kissed post-punk.

Melding theatre and music are DakhaBrakha (Ukraine), the folk quartet whose raw, expressive sound jumps from intimate to riotous in a moment. Their performances are usually accompanied by the traditional instrumentation of India, Africa, Russia and Australia and led by powerful and emotive vocals, and their appearance at WOMAD will be no different. Keeping the energy levels high, the frenzied and wild ensemble Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino (Italy) have been at the forefront of reinventing and revitalising traditional Southern Italian Pizzica music.

Soul and R&B come together beautifully with Liniker e os Carmelows (Brazil), a band from inner-city Sao Paulo who, unable to afford studio time, have their passionate fans to thank for crowdfunding them and giving them the opportunity to record their first album. Three years later, their global tour arrives at WOMAD on the shoulders of those first fans who believed in them.

The world’s festival is also honoured to welcome Ustad Saami (Pakistan), the last living master of Surti, a style of music nearly 1000 years old, regarded as blasphemous by some religious extremists who have made threats on Ustad’s life for performing the ancient art.  The music dies with him, so his WOMAD appearance is a once in a lifetime experience.

As well as the stellar line-up of musicians taking to the stage, WOMAD offers a chance to celebrate the spoken word in the World of Words with talks, debates, panels and performances, to get even closer to the artists as they rustle up their favourite dishes from home at Taste the World and to be inspired in the World of Physics with workshops galore. Festival-goers can also chill out in style at the World of Wellbeing with hundreds of therapies to heal your mind, body and soul and, for the younger ones, a whole universe of fun and games at the World of Children, this year cosmically themed all around Space, as well as offering over 80 free workshops all day every day where festival goers can delve deeper into the music, the moves and the inspiration of some of the amazing WOMAD artists. More names to be announced soon.

“WOMAD, our world music festival, was established with the specific intent of featuring all the richness and magic of our cultural differences. Meanwhile, across the globe we're watching cynical politicians growing powerful on a diet of fear and hate. The world is more divided than ever and there’s never been a better reason for people to bring all the barriers down, to relax and connect through music, art and dance. Every year at WOMAD it is our differences, our diversity, that become the reason we want to be together. Long Live WOMAD!” - Peter Gabriel

Published on 28 February 2019 by Ben Robinson

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