WOMAD: 5 letters for a festival. In fact, for more than 160 festivals in twenty countries! The adventure began just 25 years ago. WOMAD, which celebrates its quarter of a century in Malmesbury (England) from July 27 to 29, took its first steps in the county of Somerset, before growing up and reaching all continents: Oceania, North America, South Asia. Is… Welcome to a world of music, arts and dance ("World Of Music, Arts and Dance") which has become the biggest planetary meeting of world music!
"Music, a universal language"
The idea of a festival devoted to world music came to the fore in the early 1980s, among a few enthusiasts united by their interest in this genre. Among them: Peter Gabriel, founding member and singer of the legendary Genesis. It is 1982. Peter Gabriel and his friends organize the first WOMAD in Shepton Mallet, Somerset. This festival is based on a simple idea: the unifying and universal nature of music. "The festivals thus offer different audiences the possibility of discovering other cultures through the enchanting means of music", explains Peter Gabriel. “Music is a universal language, it inspires people to come together and proves, better than anyone, the stupidity of racism,” he continues.
WOMAD is emulating. Denmark and Canada are in 1988, the first countries to import this generous concept. A pioneering event, WOMAD certainly offers musical performances, but also workshops and activities for both adults and children. In short, a family event which, for a weekend, takes you from one continent to another. By combining traditional and modern music, arts and dances from all over the world, WOMAD intends to make us aware of the value and potential of multiculturalism.
Since its launch, this backpacker festival has made its way. He traveled the world and put his bags in Australia, New Zealand, Sicily, the Canary Islands, the United States, South Korea, Greece, Sri Lanka, etc. In some of these countries, the festival has become an annual event. Thus, each year, several WOMADs take place across the planet. The only downside: the cancellation of concerts in the United States in 2002 and 2003 following the events of September 11 and the difficulties in obtaining visas encountered by some artists.
Today WOMAD is an international festival that attracts crowds. Each year, more than 80 people quietly come to enjoy the programming of the different WOMADs: a range of artists that has nothing to envy to the main rock festivals of our good old Europe.
WOMAD does charity
WOMAD is not only a nomadic festival, but also a charitable institution founded in 1983. Educational projects centered around music and other forms of artistic expression are carried out all over the world. They are implemented in collaboration with regional, national and international organizations. With one objective: to promote, maintain, improve and encourage a multicultural approach to the cultures of the world.
Thus, the WOMAD foundation designs projects for schools, colleges and universities, as well as programs for local festivals. It presents musicians with specific traditions specific to their countries of origin, organizes intercultural exchanges and makes young people and professional musicians work together. Interaction, diversity, sharing… WOMAD has organized events in Australia with aboriginal children, in New Zealand with students from a Maori school or on flamenco, in Spain, with children.
25 years of WOMAD
For its 25th anniversary, the WOMAD festival in England, which will take place from 27 to 29 July, moved to Malmesbury (Wiltshire), 160 km west of London. The Rivermaid site where the rally has been held since 1990 is now too small to accommodate it. More than 70 artists are expected in the heart of the Wiltshire countryside, in the lush greenery of Charlton Park.
Among other things, Cesaria Evora, Isaac Hayes, Lila Downs, Steel pulse et Peter Gabriel, of course. The artists come - brace yourself the list is breathtaking - from USA, UK, Senegal, Mali, Cape Verde, Brazil, India, Spain, Australia, 'Iran, Egypt, Korea, Norway, Mexico, Cambodia, Algeria, Mozambique, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Tibet, Jamaica, Niger, Palestine, South Africa, Poland, and Tanzania! And that's not all: a global village welcomes you to reveal the flavors and arts of the whole world.
WOMAD around the world
Here are the main WOMAD events of the 2007/2008 season: