ANOUSHKA SHANKAR, JORDAN RAKEI, NITIN SAWHNEY AND GREENTEA PENG AMONG FIRST WAVE OF ARTISTS ANNOUNCED TO JOIN THE GLORIOUS GLOBAL PARTY
WOMAD today announces the first wave of artists on its 2021 line-up, a glorious melting pot of music from UK based artists who reflect music traditions from all over the world. The weekend of musical discovery at Charlton Park 22 – 25 July will embrace the joys of community, friendship, diversity, and tolerance at a time when the world needs it more than ever.
Performing at WOMAD for the first time is vocalist, multi-instrumentalist, and producer Jordan Rakei (New Zealand/Australia). Since moving to the UK five years ago he has earned plaudits galore for his diverse and powerfully emotive sound incorporating elements of R&B, jazz, funk, and soul. His compilation album, Late Night Tales: Jordan Rakei, came out last week.
The legendary Anoushka Shankar (India) is also making a triumphant return to Charlton Park with her brilliant new album Love Letters. Using her unique instrumentation it documents the emotional journey stemming from her divorce. One of Anoushka’s past collaborators, musical polymath Nitin Sawhney (UK) will also be returning to WOMAD to perform tracks from his new album Immigrants, the sequel to the 1999 Mercury-nominated Beyond Skin along with music from his prolific back catalogue.
Another long-overdue return is that of post-punk/funk Mancunians A Certain Ratio (UK) whose last appearance on a WOMAD stage was in Mersea Island in Essex 35 years ago, while The Dhol Foundation (UK/India) will bring bhangra and Bollywood to the festival led by the irrepressible Johnny Kalsi.
Other home-grown acts include psychedelic R’n’B artist Greentea Peng (UK), an neo-soul artist compared to the likes of Amy Winehouse and Lauryn Hill but with added psychedelic Earth Mother vibes.
Mind-altering interplanetary sounds will be provided by The Comet Is Coming (UK) who combine saxophone, drums, and electronics to produce zero-gravity jazz-rock with a grime/dubstep edge. Nubiyan Twist (UK) offer a monumental fusion of Afro-jazz, soul, and Afrobeat, whilemagical kora player and singer Sona Jobarteh (Gambia) is renown as the first female professional kora player from any of the West Africa griot family dynasties.
And that is far from all. The true joy of a WOMAD festival is that endless journey of discovery and with new and known thrills around every corner, others offering musical enlightenment this year are:
Hot and spicy pizzica, the frenetic, fast-tempo folk dance and music that forms part of the tarantella tradition from the Salento region on the heel of Italy’s ‘boot’. Few groups play it in more spirited fashion than this eight-piece.
Bess Atwell (UK)
Shimmering acoustic delights – and plenty of sage reflections on life – from the lauded singer-songwriter. As The Guardian noted, Bess possesses “a voice like slow, cool water”. Great things surely beckon.
Cheng Yu and Silk Breeze (China/UK)
This Chinese classical musician plays the zither-like gugin and the pipa, a four-string lute. With her quartet Silk Breeze, she was last heard performing in the grounds of Real World Studios as part of the online, lockdown-busting WOMAD At Home series.
Dele Sosimi Afrobeat Orchestra (Nigeria/UK)
Not many people have stronger Afrobeat credentials than this keys player. Dele was employed in Fela Kuti’s Egypt 80 band for seven years, before joining forces with Fela’s son Femi for a further eight. He is also a supreme bandleader in his own right.
Hip-hop, spoken word and folk combine in the body of the man known as Dizraeli, a socially conscious wordsmith whose gaze is forever fixed on a better world.
Dublin Calling Big Band (Ireland/UK)
The Dublin Calling radio show straps on its rucksack and makes for the festival stage, presenting a showcase of elite musicians and singers from the Irish diaspora in a pub session gone large.
Electric Jalaba (Morocco/UK)
The clue’s in the name. Electric Jalaba plug into the mains for a heady, heavily amplified take on Moroccan gnawa music. The result is an intoxicating, psychedelic experience.
The Fontanas (UK)
Set your dials for Brazil. Sultry samba-soul and Afro-Latin funk are the commodities dealt in by this band comprised of musical collaborators of Alice Russell and Mr Scruff. Craig Charles is a big fan.
Grupo Lokito (Democratic Republic of the Congo/UK)
The heat of Kinshasa meets the passion of Havana as the lithe Grupo Lokito reveal how Cuban music shaped Congolese rumba. The guitar alone is a dizzying delight.
Jali Bakary Konteh & the Minyanta Band (UK/Gambia)
Forward-facing project that shoots a current of electricity through the kora and balafon sounds that resonate along the banks of the Gambia River.
Joe Armon-Jones (UK)
One of the lynchpins of London’s extraordinarily productive jazz scene, pianist Joe’s musical vision knows few boundaries. Championed by tastemaker supreme Gilles Peterson, he is also earned comparisons with the mighty Herbie Hancock.
Joji Hirota and the London Taiko Drummers (Japan/UK)
Joji’s links with WOMAD and Real World go back to the early ’90s when this master of Japanese taiko drumming showed his instrument’s versatility during the Real World Recording Week. His ensemble makes a thundering – and thunderingly joyful – sound.
Kefaya & Elaha Soroor (UK/Italy/Afghanistan)
Kefaya – a London-based collective with an ear always fixed on sounds from right across the globe – team up with the wonderful Afghan singer Elaha Soroor, who had to flee her native Afghanistan after speaking out against the government.
King Pleasure and the Biscuit Boys (UK)
A long-established draw across the pubs, clubs, and festivals of our islands, KP and his boys set their time machine for the 1950s for a red-hot set of jump-blues and R&B.
LoKkhi TeRra (UK/Bangladesh/Cuba/Turkey)
Arguably the most adventurous fusion group around. The pot simmers with musical flavours a-plenty – from Bangladesh to Nigeria, Havana to Kingston – and all topped with an impeccable seasoning of jazz.
Los Bitchos (UK)
“Instrumental psychedelic sunshine cumbia” is how this all-woman combo describe themselves. And, of course, they are spot on. Imagine diamond-hard surf-rock guitars taking a holiday in Latin America.
The sound of Colombian cumbia instantly transports you to tropical climes and so it is with these Londoners who playfully introduce sizzling psychedelic organ and touches of electronica to that indestructible, irresistible beat.
Featuring the plaintive, understated vocals of Blythe Pepino, this genre-bending Bristol five-piece declare that they “occupy the ethereal space” otherwise frequented by Kate Bush and Björk.
Mr Bruce (UK)
Best known to WOMAD fans as the vocal half of hip-hop/swing duo The Correspondents, Mr Bruce’s solo work now finds him bringing all his charisma to electro-house, garage, jungle, and dancehall.
Mind-expanding electronica project from KOG (of KOG and the Zongo Brigade) and Nubiyan Twist’s Tom Excell that deals in shape-shifting Afro-futurism. This is not the sound of now. It is the sound of tomorrow.
Sam Amidon (US)
Distinctive singer-songwriter whose fascination with the American folk music of the early 20th century finds him reimagining it through contemporary eyes. His collaborators include Bon Iver, Tune-Yards and his wife, Beth Orton.
Sam Kelly and the Lost Boys (UK)
One of the current British folk music scene’s best live draws. Fronted by the compelling singer Sam Kelly, this seven-piece are a lively bunch, with fiddles, melodeons, and banjos in full flight.
Sarathy Korwar (India)
Percussionist Sarathy is redefining Indo-jazz, that ’60s hybrid of east and west. He has now put it on more than speaking terms with electronica, in the process turning it into some of the most vital music today.
The cream of young British jazz squeeze inside this ten-piece collective, a fabulous ensemble that hasn’t escaped the notice of the Mercury Prize judges who rightfully shortlisted the glorious debut offering, 2019’s Driftglass.
More than ten years on since first gracing our stages, this will be the last time Stornoway tread our boards. The Oxford indie-folk outfit are going their separate ways, and this will be their final-ever show.
Voka Gentle (UK)
This trio’s folk-flecked electro-pop is a slippery beast to define. As The Skinny said, their music is “a kaleidoscopic adventure in sound, without a dull moment in sight”.
But aside from all the musical treats there are plenty of other activities, sights, sounds and smells across this lush Wiltshire country park. Many of the weekend’s performers will get the chance to show off their culinary credentials in the ever-popular Taste The World stage. There’s the tranquility of the World of Wellbeing and luxury of the WOMAD Spa. Festivalgoers have the unique opportunity to get hands on and learn from the experts some of the incredible skills on show at Charlton Park with a whole array of workshops; from taking dance lessons to picking up a musical instrument from the other side of the globe. Celebrate the spoken word at the World of Words with author talks, debates and discussions. And there are, of course, more child-friendly activities and workshops than any other festival, the culmination of which is the now-legendary Sunday afternoon parade across the Charlton Park site.
There are plenty more secrets to reveal, and plenty more reasons to feel cheerful about a certain weekend in July. Watch this space.
Chris Smith, Festival Director says ‘While artists around the world are still subject to travel restrictions we are delighted – following the ‘WOMAD Roadmap’ – to announce a line-up that fully illuminates the rich cultural diversity of the UK’s artistic community. We will announce more UK-based artists in the coming weeks and hopefully be able to add international artists to the line-up after 17 May if international travel allows.Inevitably there will be some changes to the festival this year and wewill implement the measures required for the festival to take place safely and for the wider community to feel totally comfortable so that we can all come together to celebrate the world and enjoy all the things that enrich our lives and are essential to the human spirit.”
WOMAD FESTIVAL UK
22-25 JULY 2021
Charlton Park, Malmesbury, Wiltshire, UK, SN16 9DG
Full Price 3 days: £185
Full Price 4 days: £225
Teen Price 3 days: £95
Teen Price 4 Days: £130
SN16 resident 3 days: £125
SN16 resident 4 days: £145
SW16 4 day (no camping):£95
Camp WOMAD x 2-man tent: £150
Camp WOMAD x 4-man tent: £225
La Di Da Loo: £40
Tickets can be bought by four instalments.
Children 13 and under FREE (but still need ticket)