Story: Womadelaide 2024

Womadelaide 2024From the bustling streets of Paris to the serene landscapes of Tibet, from the rhythmic beats of Senegal to the vibrant sounds of Australia's Aboriginal roots, Womadelaide 2024 promises a journey through a diverse tapestry of global music and culture. Set against the picturesque backdrop of Botanic Park, or Tainmuntilla, in Adelaide, this iconic festival invites music enthusiasts to immerse themselves in an unparalleled celebration of creativity, diversity, and artistic expression.


As the sun sets over the lush Moreton Bay Fig trees, festival-goers will be treated to an eclectic lineup of artists hailing from every corner of the globe. Among the headliners gracing the stages of Womadelaide this year is Baaba Maal (Senegal). Renowned as one of Africa's most celebrated musicians, Maal's mesmerizing blend of traditional Senegalese rhythms with contemporary influences has captivated audiences worldwide. With his soul-stirring vocals and infectious grooves, Maal promises to deliver an electrifying performance that transcends borders and unites cultures.


Hailing from Lahore, Arooj Aftab (USA/Pakistan) is a trailblazing vocalist and composer whose music seamlessly blends elements of classical Pakistani music with avant-garde sensibilities. Drawing inspiration from Sufi poetry and modern jazz, Aftab's ethereal soundscapes will evoke a sense of transcendence and spiritual awakening.


The pulsating rhythms of Ibibio Sound Machine (United Kingdom) will also be on show this year. Fronted by the charismatic Eno Williams, this London-based collective channels the vibrant energy of West Africa, blending traditional Nigerian rhythms with modern funk and disco grooves.


From the infectious grooves of Ibibio Sound Machine to the more introspective tones of Emel Mathlouthi (Tunisia), her haunting vocals and poignant lyrics will speak to the resilience of the human spirit in the face of adversity. Moonlight Benjamin (Haiti/France) electrifying performances are also a testament to resilience, as well as the vitality of the Haitian culture. Combining the rich musical traditions of Haiti with the contemporary sounds of French rock and blues her powerful vocals and soulful lyrics will invite audiences to embark on a journey of introspection and liberation.


From the sultry sounds of Haiti, the music will take a fiery turn when Seun Kuti and Egypt 80 (Nigeria) take the stage. Hailing from the bustling streets of Lagos, Nigeria, Kuti carries on the legacy of his legendary father, Fela Kuti, with his explosive blend of Afrobeat rhythms and fiery political commentary. Backed by the legendary Egypt 80 band, Kuti's electrifying performances are a call to action, a rallying cry for justice and equality in a world plagued by oppression and injustice.


In a fusion of their rich musical traditions, Pongo (Angola/Portugal) and Tenzin Choegyal (Australia/Tibet) will both have audiences considering the intersection of tradition and modernity. Pongo, a force to be reckoned with in the world of Afro-Portuguese music, fuses elements of kuduro, semba, and electronic beats. Their infectious rhythms and fierce rhymes celebrate the vibrant spirit of Afro-diasporic communities around the world. Where Choegyal, a masterful musician whose music transcends cultural boundaries, will bridge the gap between his Tibetan heritage and his Australian upbringing with his haunting melodies and heartfelt lyrics.


Comprising a diverse group of musicians from across the Pacific Islands, Wantok Sing Sing (Oceania) is a celebration of Oceania's rich cultural heritage. From the rhythms of Fiji to the melodies of Vanuatu, this supergroup's dynamic performances showcase the beauty and diversity of Pacific Island music.


Each artist will bring their own unique blend of sounds and influences to the stage. From the soulful ballads of Corinne Bailey Rae (United Kingdom) to the infectious grooves of Cymande (United Kingdom), from the hypnotic beats of DakhaBrakha (Ukraine) a Ukrainian quartet known for their avant-garde approach to traditional folk music, to the soul-stirring melodies of Gilberto Gil (Brazil), the Brazilian musical icon whose songs carry the spirit of resistance and resilience, each artist offers a unique perspective on the world and its rich tapestry of cultures that make up our global community.


The enchanting sounds of José González (Sweden) will also echo through the park on Saturday night. Hailing from the serene landscapes of Sweden, Gonzalez's gentle vocals and intricate guitar work create an atmosphere of serenity and introspection that will set the stage for an evening of musical exploration.


Elephants Laugh (South Korea) will also captivate audiences with their mesmerizing performance titled "Muljil". Hailing from South Korea, Elephants Laugh brings a unique fusion of traditional Korean music and contemporary artistry to the stage. Through their innovative use of instruments and visual storytelling, they invite spectators on a journey of discovery and wonder, exploring themes of heritage, identity, and the human experience.


Not all of the action takes place on the stages however, with roving performances and aerial acts to excite and entertain. Handspring Puppet Company (South Africa) will enchant audiences with their spellbinding puppetry and theatrical storytelling. Renowned for its groundbreaking productions that blur the lines between puppetry, dance, and visual art their masterful manipulation of puppets and evocative narratives will create a world of imagination and wonder that transcends language and culture.


Gratte Ciel (France), the French performance artists who "dance in the air", return for the 3rd time to defy gravity and ignite the sky with their breathtaking aerial acrobatics. Their graceful movements and daring feats push the boundaries of what is possible captivating audiences with their awe-inspiring agility, and artistry. Finally, Streb Extreme Action (USA) will thrill audiences with their adrenaline-fueled stunts and gravity-defying feats of athleticism. Known for their daring combination of dance, acrobatics, and extreme sports their high-flying aerial manoeuvres and jaw-dropping stunts will push the limits of the human body.


These performance acts, along with the diverse lineup of musicians, artists, speakers, and worldly selections of food and drink promise to transport audiences to a world of imagination, creativity, and cultural exploration. It is 4 days and nights not to be missed from the 8th to the 11th of March at Botanic Park/Tainmuntilla.


Paul Rodda


When: 8 to 11 Mar

Where: Botanic Park/Tainmuntilla