Global Takeover of Times Square: globalFEST Uncovers Bold Sounds and the World’s Hidden Musical Gems
On one of the busiest and most iconic streets in the world is a forgotten gem of a theater. On January 14, 2018, the lights will go on, the doors will open, and New York and its myriad visitors will discover the unexpected beauty of The Liberty, one of three stages which will host some of the most intriguing music in the world, along with the iconic BB King’s and Lucille’s.
globalFEST is moving the 15th anniversary edition of its flagship festival to Midtown, to add a new collection of sounds to the crossroads of the world in Times Square. The leading US-based world music service organization and its eponymous festival/showcase specializes in uncovering gems hidden in plain sight and in showcasing the wonders of a world brimming with music that’s both innovative and deeply rooted and putting them on the road and in theaters and venues across the country.
The festival events will take place a few steps from each other on 42nd Street, from B.B. King’s Blues Club and its sister venue Lucille’s to the Liberty (directly across the street), turning the crosswalk into a link between musical continents.
“Moving to the heart of one of the most globally attuned cities in the world is significant at this politically charged time,” explains co-founder and co-director Isabel Soffer. “We have been working for fifteen years as an organization to build bridges and to bring diverse sounds from the margins to the center of performing arts programming. It’s exciting to give artists and audiences a chance to meet in such a symbolic location and to encourage music and culture as a means to discover and explore.”
The Artists of globalFEST 15
AVA ROCHA: Post-Tropicalia avant-pop from Brazil
DELGRES: (NY Debut) Gritty Creole blues reconnects Guadeloupe to New Orleans
EVA SALINA & PETER STAN: Stirring Balkan Romani songs for voice and accordion
GRAND TAPESTRY: (NY Debut) Underground hip-hop joins Indian sarod and tabla
IBERI CHOIR: (NY Debut) Stunning polyphonic songs from Georgia
JARLATH HENDERSON BAND (US Debut): Champion of the new Celtic folk scene
JUPITER & OKWESS (US Debut): The “Rebel General’ of Congolese music
LA DAME BLANCHE: Kinetic Cuban rumba and son with hip-hop, cumbia, and dancehall
MARIACHI FLOR DE TOLOACHE: Fresh female twist on Mexican mariachi
MOHSEN NAMJOO: Visionary modern Iranian songs
THORNETTA DAVIS: Detroit’s electrifying queen of the blues
MIRAMAR: Puerto Rico’s treasured boleros
Supporters can get guaranteed tickets to the always sold-out flagship festival by contributing to globalFEST’s Indiegogo campaign here.
“When we shifted venues, we curated the line-up to respond in part to our new home at B.B. King’s,” explains co-founder and -director Bill Bragin. “Thornetta Davis, Detroit’s Queen of the Blues has been a regional powerhouse for decades. She’s won many regional awards, and had moments of higher national profile including a SubPop release in the 90’s. Currently, she’s a standout featured performer in Taylor Mac’s international sensation, the marathon 24-Decade History of American Popular Music, and ready to take her touring to new heights. Delgres, from Guadeloupe and France, links the Creole traditions of the French Caribbean with Delta Blues in a power trio featuring guitar, drums, sousaphone, and vocals, that puts American roots music in dialogue with the music of its Caribbean neighbors.”
Strong women leading unforgettable bands have packed globalFEST spaces year after year, and this 15th edition showcases how women are innovating as well as torch-bearing for tradition. “Ava Rocha is an experimentalist in today’s post-Tropicalia Brazilian music scene tradition, La Dame Blanche is a trailblazer creating new paths for Cuban rumba with hip hop and other sounds and Eva Salina breathes new life into Roma and Balkan songs ,” notes co-director Shanta Thake Kriegsman. “This year’s female-led acts are dynamos. Mariachi Flor de Toloache for example, has created quite a stir as an all female mariachi band shaking up a once exclusively male Mexican tradition.”
Mariachi Flor de Toloache points to another key part of globalFEST’s mission: providing a platform for artists from news “hot spots” to amplify their own narratives. “This year we feature music with ties to Iran, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Cuba, who have broader stories to share,” says Thake. “globalFEST started in response to the tightened borders that sprang up post-9/11. Now, our mission is as urgent as ever. Bringing this music to the public, letting audiences experience it, feels really central to our work.”
Over a decade and a half, globalFEST has grown from an annual showcase/festival into a service agency for the performing arts field, bringing artists from the periphery to more mainstream ears across the country.
No matter what the origins, breaking down borders between people via musical artistry is a mission globalFEST embraces, in all its urgency. “We always strive to open up opportunities for tour-ready groups who have been building their artistry and following, but need support to take it to the next level. We’ve had artists like Betsayda Machado from Venezuela move from playing in small villages in Venezuela to headlining extensive US tours, or Mariza from Portugal leap from playing Joe’s Pub to headlining major venues like Carnegie Hall,” Soffer states. “Mohsen Namjoo has a huge following in the Iranian-American community, but is not known by general audiences in the same way. We hope after gF he’ll be able to take that step and develop a bridge to help Americans engage directly with Iranian culture.”
Over the last decade, globalFEST has become one of the most dynamic global music platforms in North America, growing from an acclaimed festival/showcase into a catalytic non-profit service organization for curators, artists, and the performing arts field. Through its work, gF encourages networking and cultural diplomacy; deepens cultural understanding among its constituents; builds audiences for international music and creates new opportunities for artists leading to a more robust and sustainable ecosystem for world music in the United States. Artists that participate in gF programs represent diverse musical styles from all corners of the globe, ranging from traditional to contemporary, and everything in between. For it’s 15th anniversary gF will launch the inaugural globalFEST awards to honor the global music artists, movers and shakers that bring the world’s sounds to the United States!
globalFEST programs serve to raise the profile and visibility of the artists gF works with, and world music overall and include: gF Touring Fund, which provides direct support to artists to develop new markets and audiences; gF On the Road, tours that bring creatively programmed lineups to venues nationwide (including the 2018 New Golden Age of Latin Music in Feb/March 2018); and guest curating for both commercial and performing arts settings, including such influential events as SXSW, Bonnaroo, Lincoln Center and beyond; Wavelengths: APAP World Music Pre-Conference a free co-produced conference for global music community; gF Hangouts, regular events that connect fans and global music artists in NYC, and now the globalFEST awards, which will be an annual addition.
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