For 30 years the internationally renowned festival WOMAD (World of Music, Arts and Dance) has brought together artists from all over the globe. Throughout the last 30 years WOMAD’s primary aim has been to excite, inform and create an awareness of the importance of a multicultural society. The festivals have enabled diverse audiences to gain an insight into cultures other than their own.
Likewise, Glasgow’s Celtic Connections continuously demonstrates how important music, arts and dance are in bringing diverse cultures together and endeavours to introduce new forms of world music during the festival and throughout the rest of the year.
To celebrate WOMAD, and its achievements, Celtic Connections has partnered with the Merchant City Festival to bring a taste of this great event to the Old Fruitmarket in Glasgow on Thursday 26 July. The spirit of WOMAD will be celebrated by a magical night of entertainment from three of the best, most eclectic acts in world music today. Performing at this unique concert are Portugal’s Deolinda and South Africa’s Hot Water, who have both come directly from the WOMAD Charlton park festival and the Congolese star Baloji who will be headlining. This evening promises to be the musical highlight of the newly expanded 5 day Merchant City Festival
Having performed in many WOMAD festivals around the world, the fantastic Baloji will be performing one of his famously up-beat performances. Born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Baloji moved to Liège in Belgium at the age of 4 with his father. Baloji returned to music in 2008, after previously having turned his back on it, to record his debut album Hotel Impala. Prior to this return to the music industry Baloji received a letter from his mother, who he had not spoken to since 1981, which kick started his homecoming to music. Hotel Impala was as much a response to the letter from his mother as it was a quest for his true identity. A certified Gold record, the album won two Octaves de la music (a Belgian equivelant to the Grammys) as well as the Rapsat-Lelièvre prize and the Brassens prize for lyric writing. Baloji’s music demonstrates a number of influences such as soul, afrobeat, rapping, reggae, hip-hop and retro-funk. He’ll also be performing tracks from his second album which he has described as Congolese with European influences.
Fast-winning fame for their wildly flamboyant, often comical live performances, Deolinda draw on diverse styles including fado, traditional folk, Brazilian and Cape Verdean music. Their debut album Canção ao Lado recently achieved platinum sales in their native Portugal. Breaking from traditional fado style, which usually involves a sense of doom and fatality, Deolinda incorporates sweet and catchy guitar melodies into their performances as well as including the occasional melancholic one. All of their songs portray stories about Deolinda, a young Lisbon woman who lives with her goldfish in an apartment and watches through her window as the world goes by. The character of Deolinda is brought to life by the dynamic, beautiful singer Ana Bacalhau (meaning Salted Cod). She sings about love affairs between strong women and tough guys “who don’t love them but don’t defeat them, but it’s his loss.”
South Africa’s Hot Water has been described as being one of the most-loved bands in South Africa. Their concoction of homespun melodies makes for a welcome mix of African warmth and Eastern wisdom. When it comes to Hot Water’s stylistic repertoire few bands represent South Africa’s Rainbow Nation quite as well. They infuse traditional styles such as kwela, mbaqanga, sakkie-sakkie, ghoema and maskandi with a mixture of folk and pop. Within their collection of musical styles there is still a very unique South African sound and flavour which allows their sound to stand out on its own. Their exciting and energetic performance is sure to delight not only world music enthusiasts but also fans of folk and pop.
Donald Shaw, Artistic Director of Celtic Connections, said: “Music is a universal language. People engage with and interact through music no matter what age they are, what country they come from or what language they speak. I’ve had the privilege of performing at various WOMAD festivals over the years and it has been an inspiration to experience their achievement in bringing the best of world music to new audiences. This is a shared aim of Celtic Connections so we decided to put on this night of great music to celebrate their birthday in style! We are delighted to be showcasing these fantastic talents at the 2012 Merchant City Festival.”