Fort Canning Park will come alive with the thumping sounds of world music when music festival WOMAD arrives in town, bringing with it artistes from 13 different countries who are all set to rock this otherwise tranquil park for three whole days. Expect a good time and great sounds in a variety of languages.
As Sarah Martin, the festival director of WOMAD Singapore 2006 says, “WOMAD is a platform that acknowledges differences and the beauty of them through music. And believe me, music does transcend languages—it’s time proven. In nine years at WOMAD Singapore, we have seen messages in so many different languages somehow conveyed through music.” Martin continues, “WOMAD remains true to the roots of what it stands for—the celebration of cultural diversity through the universal language of music and love!” So open up your heart and join these acts at WOMAD Singapore 2006. A diverse menu of music is scheduled for your enjoyment.
DAY 1: FRIDAY
Fort Green Stage
Kicking things off at one of the two large outdoor stages, Fort Green Stage, is Sam Tshbalala. This South African, with pianist Patrick Bebey, guitarist Jack Djeyim and vocalist Koko Oadjah, will dish out elevating and rebellious numbers that talk about exile. Be prepared for a riotous start to a fun-filled festival.
Up next is the respected Indian tabla player Hameed Khan Kawa. He helms the group Musafir Gypsies of Rajasthan, which is made up of other musicians and dancers from his native hometown Rajasthan. Together, they will weave ethnic music that’s absorbing as well as refreshing.
After which, Susana Baca from Peru will sing tunes that have a strong African, Spanish and Andean feel. If you love songs that speak of spiritual rejuvenation, do catch this lush voice. It’s a treat for the ears—and soul.
Not to be missed is the electrifying and dynamic Radio Mundial. Funk, Latin, soul, reggae and rock are fused into likable rhythms. Even Carlos Santana covered their hit song “La Raiz.” A Puerto Rican band that is particularly good at getting the crowd roaring.
Taking things to a high at the other outdoor stage, Top Stage, is Dulsori, a Korean drumming group that whips out zealous and fervent beats that simply thrill. Look forward to an exciting performance inspired by the Korean percussive style pungmul.
Watch out for a revered songwriter from Brazil. Chico Cesar creates memorable pop songs that tackle issues ranging from women’s rights to the homeless. His unique nasal voice adds to the appeal of his performances, driving home the messages he wants to convey with impact.
For a band that’ll make you dance, check out T-bone. This 10-piece act is the first Thai band to play in the UK music event Glastonbury Festival, sharing stages with UB40, The Beat and INXS. Anticipate doses of reggae, ska and jazz in their set, and trust us when we say they are really worth a listen.
DAY 2: SATURDAY
Fort Green Stage
Multitalented Stevie Goldsmith takes the Fort Green Stage on the second day of WOMAD Singapore 2006. This Australian aborigine, who has a slew of international festivals to his credit, will incorporate dance, storytelling and yidaki (didgeridoo playing) in his show. His performance will be an enlightening one, strongly influenced by his culture and traditions. Accompanying him on stage is his son Jamie Goldsmith. You bet this father and son duo is gonna deliver an eye-opening show.
The highlight of Saturday’s line-up at the Fort Green Stage, however, is undoubtedly the legendary Jimmy Cliff. This ambassador of Jamaican reggae has produced classic tunes such as “Miss Jamaica,” “King of Kings,” “Many Rivers to Cross” and “Wonderful World, Beautiful People.” Cliff has also ventured into acting, and is involved in films such as The Harder They Come, Club Paradise and Marked for Death. This artiste, who has a string of albums to his name, has worked with Bob Marley, Sting, Kool & the Gang, Annie Lennox, Wyclef Jean and Joe Strummer. If you can only catch one act in WOMAD Singapore this year, he would be it.
Rocking the Top Stage is Nigeria’s Bukky Leo & Black Egypt. A leading saxophonist and a familiar name in the acid-jazz circles, Bukky Leo whips out a mean concoction of Afrobeat and jazz-funk. He and his band Black Egypt will steal the limelight, grabbing your attention effortlessly.
After the performance by Bukky Leo & Black Egypt, be prepared for a stirring set by Risenga Makondo. This versatile percussionist-cum-dancer makes music primarily from African traditional musical instruments such as the marimba, berimbau and mbira. But much more lies in wait. He also creates innovative sounds from ordinary objects such as oil cans and plastic pipes.
Dulsori, Chico Cesar and Susana Baca will also perform on the second day of WOMAD Singapore 2006.
DAY 3: SUNDAY
The last day of WOMAD Singapore 2006 sees various artistes coming together in one big joyous show. For the finale at the Fort Green Stage, we have Bukky Lee & Black Egypt, T-Bone, Chinese flutist Guo Yue, Musafir Gypsies of Rajasthan, Sam Tshbalala, Dulsori, Risenga Makondo and Stevie and Jamie Goldsmith pumping out their own trademark numbers, one after another. It will be a rousing concert, a rapturous finish to a splendid three days of celebration.
There you have it. Brilliant acts from all over the globe are slated at the two main outdoor stages set up at the Fort Canning Park. If you are itching for more action, take part in the various workshops or check out the party venue called Groove Tunnel. Housing deck wizards Marvin Kam and Adrian Wee, Thai band T-Bone and the UK act Soul Jazz Soundsystem, Groove Tunnel invites you to party till the wee hours of the morning. After all, the world music festival WOMAD is a celebration of life, and the best way to do that is to let your hair down.