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What the world is waiting for; As Cardiff prepares to host World Music Expo WOMEX, Cerys Matthews, artistic director of the opening concert at the Wales Millennium Centre, gives us her top tips on the bands and events not to miss at the Cardiff Bay venue.

Byline: ARTS & CULTURE edited by Karen Price @karenmediawales

1. WOMEX OPENING CONCERT - LAND OF SONG (October 23) Have you ever seen a dance-off between Welsh clog dancers and classically trained dancers? Heard triple harps duelling like the Deliverance duelling banjo scene? Heard a classic Welsh folk tune about spring weaved into an Indian song and played with Tabla and Indian violin? Well you will during this explosion of culture that will launch the world music extravaganza hosted this year in Cardiff. I've been working on this for the past two years and admit to feeling rather impatient to see all these talented performers who come from all over the world playing these 100-year-old songs to both a local and a foreign audience. The intention is to get the whole auditorium united in song by the end. Are we going to achieve this? We'll have to wait and see. It'll be aired the following night on S4C so if you can't get tickets (and more have been released so if you can come, please come) you can watch with your leek soup and cockle tea from the comfort of your homes.

2. AMIRA (October 24) Named 'Bosnia's Billie Holiday', Amira Medunjanin is an interpreter of Sevdah songs, some of which she learnt from her mother. Its not jazz nor blues however, but, like flamenco singing, is an age old tradition that draws on love, life, loss and longing to give spiritual comfort.

3. FIONA TAYLOR (October 24) If Dolly Parton were born in Glasgow she might sound a little like Fiona - you'll know her form fronting Melinky for almost 10 years. She's a total natural and has spent years studying the songs of the Scottish travellers.


GEORGIA RUTH (October 24) It's been a great year for Aberystwyth-born harpist, singer and songwriter Georgia Ruth. Her debut album, Week of Pines, was released in May to great acclaim and she was hailed "one of the British folk discoveries of the year". Her playing owes more to the finger-style playing of guitarists such as Bert Jansch and Meic Stevens than her classical music education, but don't take it from me, come and see for yourself what the British music press have been talking about. After a busy summer of festival appearances she'll take to the Horizons showcase stage with a selection of her traditional Welsh ballads and her own Welsh and English compositions.

5. GHAZALAW (October 25) Ghazalaw comprises Welsh singersongwriter Gwyneth Glyn and Mumbai Ghazal singer Tauseef Akhtar. They will be focusing on the song Moilannwn (Let's Rejoice). Its tune was borrowed a century ago from an American Negro Minstrel tune. It became a Welsh song about the coming of spring and all the freedoms that fair weather entails and it is usually sung by ruddy-cheeked primary school children. But in 2013 you'll hear a version featuring Indian fiddle, tabla and harmonium as well as the sweet sound of Tauseef singing an altogether more Eastern version along with Gwyneth.

6. CATRIN FINCH AND SECKOU KEITA (October 25) Wales and Senegal both share a centuries old bardic-griot tradition of intricate oral history expressed through music, song and verse. The harp and the kora, instruments from the same family occupy a vital place in these rich cultures. Catrin Finch and Senegalese kora player Seckou Keita have combined forces to explore these traditions and in the process have created something refreshingly new. They empathetically weave each other's music traditions flowing harmoniously, creating and improvising, moving through each other's musical worlds. It's spellbinding.

7. EBO TAYLOR (October 26) Ebo Taylor, Ghanaian band leader, guitarist, arranger and composer, will bring his band and the genre he has led for decades - Highlife - to Cardiff. This man is a legend.

8. HORIZONS TOUR If you absolutely cannot make it to this musical feast in Cardiff Bay, then a little of WOMEX's magic will be heading your way. Immediately following WOMEX, four international showcase acts will be accompanied by four Welsh acts on a tour to 16 venues across Wales on four different tour routes. Cumbia All Stars from Peru will join forces with Welsh mother and daughter duo DnA, Ghazalaw will join forces with Cardiff-based African dance and music group Ballet Nimba, Les Tambours de Brazza from the Republic of Congo will tour alongside Welsh folk group 9Bach and Ebo Taylor from Ghana and Welsh folk trio Alaw will hit the road together. To find venues, check the Cerdd Cymru website: | WOMEX 13 takes place in Cardiff from October 23 to 27. For full details, visit What you need to know about WOMEX What is WOMEX? WOMEX is the world's leading World Music Expo. While it's an important business conference for the music industry, it's also an amazing festival showcase of over 50 of the best world music acts from around the globe.

Who is it for? WOMEX attracts the top world music buyers, industry executives, media, record industry decision makers and festival programmers of the world. But the showcase festivals are open to all and it is where local and regional fans from across the host region and nation can rub shoulders with the music aficionados of the world and together enjoy a wealth of music.

What is world music? In its simplest terms, world music is essentially any music other than western classical and Americana rock and pop. It includes folk, roots, indigenous, jazz and a whole host of other traditional and fusion music forms.


Cerys Matthews
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Oct 19, 2013
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