Fatoumata Diawara on Mali, music and militants

I had a chat with Fatoumata Diawara ahead of her appearance at WOMADelaide 2019.

Brian: First of all, many congratulations on your nomination for this year’s Grammy Awards for your album Fenfo. Will you be attending the Awards Ceremony?

Fatou: Yes, I’m going to go, definitely. Last year it was the Victoires de la Musique in France, so I’m familiar with the significance of the ceremonies.

Brian: Many West African artists we’ve had at WOMADelaide have been in the wall of sound tradition, with horns, electric guitars and kora all competing for attention. But your new album Fenfo is much more spacious and open in style. Is that the style you prefer to use?

Fatoumata Diawara
Continue reading

Nano Stern on Chilean musical heritage and the revolutionary act of kindness

Ahead of his appearance at WOMADelaide 2018, I spoke with Chilean singer, multi-instrumentalist and song-writer Nano Stern about cultural heritage, his hopes for the future and the incomparable instrument, the human voice.

Brian:  It’s been six years since we last saw you perform at WOMADelaide, and eight years since your Live in Concert album was recorded in Mullumbimby. What are the main changes we can expect at WOMADelaide 2018? Different instruments and band line-up? More influence of rock and jazz or stronger influence of Chilean roots since your return to live in Santiago? Continue reading

WOMADelaide 2017

The sprinkling of rain at the start of this year’s WOMADelaide didn’t do much to quell excitement. A rather good lineup, delicious food stalls, and friendly crowd in Botanic Park all returned to the four day world music festival.

I find it difficult to quantify WOMAD weekends; they’re reliably wonderful experiences and each year the highlights are unexpected, but this felt like a particularly good year. Continue reading

A chat with Sir Tim Smit – co-founder of the Eden Project

Today I had a chat with Sir Tim Smit, serial entrepreneur and co-founder of the Eden Project, ahead of his forthcoming presentation for the Planet Talks at WOMADelaide 2017.

In the prologue to his book, Eden, two sentences stand out, and they sum up the spirit of our chat: “Neither do I make any apology for being optimistic about the future. I am.”

Continue reading

Please take a seat – it’s Angelique Kidjo at WOMADelaide

Telling the WOMADelaide crowds to sit down is a tall order. There’s so much dancing on stage and in the crowd.

But just occasionally there’s a performance of such subtle beauty and dynamic range – such as with the performance of Ravi Shankar and Anoushka Shankar six years ago – that WOMADelaide organisers insist the crowd sit on the grass and focus.

The big sit this year will be to bask in the magic of Angélique Kidjo with guitarist David Laborier and the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra.

This extract from a classic interview for the New Internationalist magazine illustrates just how many strings The Grammy award-winning musician, writer and UNICEF goodwill ambassador has to her bow. You can read the full interview here.

NI: You left Benin in 1983 to study jazz in Paris, and ended up finding Africa elsewhere: in jazz music in France, then the blues of the US, the carnival and candomblé of Brazil, the salsa of Cuba. Is this testament to the resilience of African music? Continue reading

Vandana Shiva – seed freedom

At WOMADelaide’s Planet Talks, Vandana Shiva, Paul Sutton and Tim Jarvis will be challenging the values that we place on our land, food and water, and what these values mean for the health of our planet and ourselves.

I spoke to Dr Vandana Shiva about seeds and freedom.

Continue reading