Fresh from Roskilde festival in Denmark, Kenyan band Sarabi is part of the official selection at the World Music Expo (WOMEX) showcase, the leading networking platform for the world music industry. The 21st edition of WOMEX will take place in Budapest, Hungary, from 21 to 25 October. The annual five-day event comprises a trade fair, showcase festival, conference and film programme, as well as festive opening and award ceremonies.
Comprising of Isabella Were, Peter Mbau, Harun Waceke, Adam Mwadama, Bernard Oduor, Anthony Kimangu, John Maluni and frontman Nelson Mandela Akello, Sarabi was formed in 2005, while they were still in their early teens. Their music, made up of traditional Kenyan rhythms, benga and a blend of Western sounds, has proven popular to fans of Afro-fusion music.
Sarabi has steadily grown their fan base across East Africa with performances at major festivals in Uganda and Kenya. They started 2015 at East Africa’s biggest festival, Sauti za Busara in Zanzibar, and Selam festival in Ethiopia. Now they are making in-roads in Europe with performances at Africa Oyé) in the UK in June, the recently concluded Roskilde festival in Denmark and now WOMEX.
The WOMEX Showcase Festival shines the spotlight on more than 60 acts from around the world each year, with a programme that celebrates musical traditions and their most cutting-edge adaptations from across the global music community. Following on from the initial announcement of artists in June, the line-up includes numerous acts from all over the world. Selected by the WOMEX jury, the artists represent a number of styles, including jazz, electronica, blues, traditional pipa playing, Colombian fanfare, Yemenite folk, Indian classical music and French psychedelic punk.
Besides Sarabi, other African acts showcasing their talents at WOMEX this year will be Pierre Kwenders (DRC/Canada) Vaudou Game (Togo/France), Blick Bassy (Cameroon/France)), Mamar Kassey (Niger) Tarek Abdallah and Adel Shams El-Din (Egypt/France), and Ghanaian legend Pat Thomas and his Kwashibu Area Band.
Artists from further afield include A-Wa (Israel), Dom Flemons (USA), Germán López (Spain), Karolina Cicha and Bart Pałyga (Poland), Martin Lubenov’s Jazzta Prasta (Bulgaria/Austria/Italy), Rancho Aparte Chirimia (Colombia), Tamer Abu Ghazaleh (Palestine), Tritha Electric (India/France), Wu Man (China/USA) and Zoufris Maracas (France).
Being the first time that WOMEX takes place in Eastern Europe, the festival organizers say that the event has registered a 10 percent rise in registration numbers in comparison to the same time last year, when it was held in Spain.
A representative of the Independent Music Exporters South Africa (IMEXSA) said this of the annual expo: “Bringing together professionals from the worlds of folk, roots, ethnic and traditional music in an extraordinary five-day event, WOMEX remains a key highlight on the global music scene.”
Announcements about artists performing on this year’s regional stage, the offWOMEX programme and the DJ Summit will be announced soon. For more information about the festival programme, check out the WOMEX website.