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A Cross-Cultural Vision: globalFEST, North America’s Springboard Showcase Festival, Returns in January 2015

Cross-cultural hybridization has gone deeper. So exclaims the line up for the 2015 edition of globalFEST (globalfest.org), North America’s premiere international music springboard. Pioneers of Afropolitan a cappella and DIY nerd-funk, third-generation Hawaiian swing and American-made Sufi devotion. Gospel fervor and North African Jewish ecstasy. New voices from the Arab Spring, the Latin underground, and the British Isles.

All in one night, on three stages at the non-profit’s twelfth annual flagship event at Webster Hall, January 11, 2015.

Designed to showcase striking, unexpected, and groundbreaking sounds from tour-ready artists from across the global scene, globalFEST’s January festival is one of several initiatives—from the globalFEST (gF) Touring Fund and a gF-branded North American tour, to yearly stages at high-profile events like Bonnaroo and SXSW—the fast-growing organization undertakes to support its mission of bringing more global music to more venues and audiences around the US and Canada.

The artists of globalFEST 2015

Bixiga70 (US debut; Brazil): Brazil’s brassy Afrobeat orchestra

Emel Mathlouthi (Tunisia/France/US): Electro-inspired voice of Tunisia’s Arab Spring

Emil Zrihan (Morocco/Israel): Soaring Moroccan improvisations and Jewish songs

The Jones Family Singers (US): Hard-driving Gospel funk from Texas

Just a Band (Kenya): Nairobi’s Super-Nerdy Electronic Music & Art Collective

Kahulanui (US): Hawaii’s kings of swing

Kevin Johansen + The Nada (Argentina): De-genre-ate Sub-tropicalia from Argentina

The Nile Project (US debut; various): Trans-border collaboration across the Nile Basin

Puerto Candelaria (NYC debut; Colombia): Colombia’s rebellious cumbia experimentalists

Riyaaz Qawwali (various): Pakistani Sufi Music made in the USA

Sam Lee (NYC debut; UK): Unconventional Songs of the British Isles

Zap Mama (Belgium): Polyphonic a capella Afropop pioneers

World music has come to embrace all the permutations of how culture develops and recombines—with a world of influences streaming into artists’ ears—and over time, as generations embrace and challenge the past.

“Tradition may inform or inspire, but it doesn’t stop very personal and profound expressions of artistry and emotion,” says globalFEST co-producer Shanta Thake.

“We’ve got a number of artists, like Emel Mathlouthi and Sam Lee, who demonstrate how effortlessly and seamlessly contemporary production and traditional roots can work together,” explains co-producer Bill Bragin. “Musicians are coming up with new generational approaches to traditional music, how they speak to their peers.”

“We’ve also invited artists who are really sticking to tradition, who highlight the same kind of cultural fusion, just in a traditional context,” notes co-producer Isabel Soffer. “Emil Zrihan and Riyaaz Qawwali both point to how hybrid even very traditional forms are, to the exchange and give-and-take that musicians have practiced for ages.”

Deep-rooted hybridization comes naturally to ensembles like The Nile Project, which unites musicians from around East Africa for a collaborative composing experience that reflects the region’s unique sounds and raises awareness around environmental and cultural issues. Or to Puerta Candelaria from Colombia, who mix whimsy with driving Afro-Latin rhythms and soulful arrangements.

globalFEST also continues spotlighting more homegrown traditions: Highlighting American roots forms like The Jones Family Singers’ joyful Lone Star gospel or Kahalanui’s swinging snapshot of Hawaiian musical life.

And returning world music trailblazers to the spotlight: Zap Mama’s distinctive pan-African a cappella sound changed the way the world thought about world music. “Zap Mama helped invent a new pan-global approach to music-making that is both rooted and utterly contemporary, and opened the door for many cross-cultural artists and styles,” reflect the globalFEST producers.

Line up subject to change. globalFEST is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization generously supported by The Ford Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, Cultural Services of the French Embassy in New York, Bureau Export and dedicated individuals.

globalFEST 2015 is part of “January is Performing Arts Month in New York City,” celebrating the unmatched convergence of performing arts professionals, audiences, and events in New York City. Every January over 45,000 people from around the globe flock to New York City for public festivals and industry gatherings, featuring over 1,500 performances by thousands of world-class artists of all disciplines and genres, including world music, theatre, dance, jazz, and more.

Download the official gF press release

Check out The New York Times Announcement Here