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Full line-up announced for BBC Radio 3 Charlie Gillett Stage at WOMAD 2017

BBC Radio 3 and WOMAD confirm WOMAD debuts to world-renowned bands; Ghada Shbeir, Parvathy Baul, Afro Celt Sound System and many more artists

More live broadcasting from WOMAD than ever before on Radio 3 across the weekend

Cerys Matthews returns for Sunday morning simulcast on Radio 6 Music and Radio 3

BBC Introducing returns to WOMAD with performances from Introducing alumni Don Kipper and Kourelou

Stage hosted by World on 3 presenters Lopa Kothari and Kathryn Tickell

From electro fusion veterans Afro Celt Sound System magically merging hip African beats with traditional Irish rhythms, to Ghana’s cult legend King Ayisoba redefining the genre of kologo music, to the Fado voice of her generation, Portuguese singer Raquel Tavares, the BBC Radio 3 Charlie Gillett Stage continues to build on its reputation for welcoming fresh and eclectic artists from all over the world as it returns to WOMAD festival at Charlton Park in Wiltshire from 27 – 30 July 2017.

The stage, named after the late BBC broadcaster and world music pioneer Charlie Gillett, will be hosted by Lopa Kothari, presenter of BBC Radio 3’s World on 3 programme, alongside Kathryn Tickell, leading light in Northumbrian folk music and World on 3 presenter, who made her WOMAD presenting debut last year. Musician and BBC presenter Cerys Matthews is also back to co-present her weekly BBC Radio 6 Music show on Sunday 30 July, as a special live simulcast with BBC Radio 3.

With more hours of live broadcasting than ever before at WOMAD, this year’s eleven hours on Radio 3 across the festival weekend will include the diverse range of artists performing on the BBC 3 Charlie Gillett Stage, plus interviews and performances from the Siam Tent and Open Air Stage. WOMAD highlights will be broadcast on World on 3 in the weeks after the festival. Radio 3’s exclusive backstage Session Tent returns to WOMAD this year, with intimate performances from a variety of festival artists from the BBC Radio 3 Charlie Gillett Stage and further afield captured exclusively on film for the Radio 3 website.

Controller of BBC Radio 3 Alan Davey said: ‘World and roots music has always had a place in the Radio 3 schedule and continues to play a key part in our exploration of amazing music and culture. WOMAD is going from strength to strength, as one of the only festivals with every genre from every country in the world. We are thrilled to be continuing our partnership this year with the BBC Radio 3 Charlie Gillett Stage, bringing a glorious array of international musical talent to audiences both at the festival and through Radio 3, with more hours of live broadcasting than ever before.’

Festival director Chris Smith said: ‘There has always been a synergy between WOMAD and Radio 3 to discover and present the best music from around the world unrestricted by genre or demographic.  Our partnership enables the spirit of the festival to flourish way beyond the four days of the festival and the boundaries of our beautiful site.’

Artists on the BBC Radio 3 Charlie Gillett Stage at WOMAD 2017

Afro Celt Sound System
Simon Emmerson’s mix of players from Celtic folk, African music and electronics first got together in the 1990s, and their sound still sounds fresh and potent now. They have produced five landmark albums, and are now WOMAD veterans, having performed at festivals worldwide.  The group took a break after 2007, reforming in 2010. Now they are back, with some new faces and a new album, as the stage’s Saturday night headliner.

Don Kipper (BBC Introducing)
Describing their sound as ‘the traditional music of North-East London’, this seven-piece ensemble is rooted in Jewish klezmer, with strong influences from Turkish, Greek and Romani music.  Fronted by Athens-born singer Dunja Botic, their sound is characterised by driving rhythms powered by virtuoso clarinet, violin and accordion.  They came through the BBC Introducing scheme, and made their radio debut on World on 3 in 2016.

Ghada Shbeir
Ghada Shbeir won a BBC Radio 3 World Music Award a decade ago for her debut album, Al Muwashahat. Since then she’s continued to pursue a solo career with a wide-ranging repertoire, in which she moves seamlessly from traditional Middle Eastern folk songs to Syriac and Ancient Maronite religious chants via Arabo-Andalusian music. She has also sung with the eastern Mediterranean ensemble En Chordais and teaches music at Lebanese universities as a respected musicologist. Her voice is full of swooping melisma, whether accompanied by an ensemble of acoustic Arabic instruments including oud, violin, bass, qanun (plucked zither) and ney (flute), or singing a cappella.

King Ayisoba

Two strings spanned over a goatskin stretched over a calabash – this is the kologo, a traditional instrument from north-east Ghana, played with virtuoso flair by King Ayisoba.  He sings in Frafra, Twi and in English, performing with a compelling energy that made him a star in Ghana.

The Khmer Rouge Survivors
Led by Amnesty International activist and flautist Arn Chorn Pond, The Khmer Rouge Survivors’ appearance at WOMAD will be the first time the line-up has ever performed outside of Cambodia. As the name suggests, the project features survivors of the Pol Pot regime which claimed the lives of over one million civilians and cruelly targeted the country’s artists, musicians, and intellectuals. The Survivors’ moving debut album They Will Kill You, If You Cry was released in 2016 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the genocide and their unique South-East Asian blues promises to pack an even more emotional punch live on stage.

Former BBC Introducing artists, Kourelou bring together musicians from North London’s Greek community with other virtuoso performers from back home.  Kourelou means ‘patchwork’, and they combine well-known Greek folk songs with the twentieth-century café tradition of ‘rembetika.’   According to the band’s website, a BBC Radio 3 spokesperson has said ‘They rocked our world’.

Leyla McCalla
Born in New York to Haitian immigrant parents, Leyla McCalla came to prominence with the Carolina Chocolate Drops, who won a Grammy for their contemporary Americana revival of old-time string band music. Singing in French, Haitian Creole and English, and playing cello, banjo and guitar, she left for a solo career in 2014 and made an instant impact with her rapturously reviewed solo debut Vari-Colored Songs. She followed two years later with the equally impressive A Day for the Hunter, A Day for the Prey. Earthy, elegant, soulful and witty, her music vibrates with history, yet feels strikingly fresh, distinctive and contemporary.

Msafiri Zawose
The son of the late Hukwe Zawose (a legendary figure in traditional East African music and a WOMAD favourite since the festival’s early years), Msafiri grew up playing traditional percussion and marimba in his father’s group Chibite. Since Hukwe’s death in 2003, he has kept the flame alive with his contemporary take on the traditional music of Tanzania’s Wagogo people, characterised by its multi-octave singing and accompanied by home-made metallic thumb-pianos known in Swahili as ilimba.  He often tours with other members of the Zawose family, dressed strikingly in costumes made from goatskins and porcupine quills, with ostrich feathered headdresses.

The Nile Project
Egypt, Ethiopia and more
The  ambitious Nile Project brings together artists from all eleven countries through which the world’s longest river runs  –  Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Congo-Kinshasa, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, South Sudan, Sudan and Egypt. Sharing the diverse musical traditions of more than 450 million people, since its foundation the Nile Project has attracted more than 60,000 people to 75 concerts and more than 120 participatory workshops held both in the Nile basin and in the United States. Expect kindred harps and resonant lyres flowing from the river’s sources to its delta united in buzzing polyrhythms and magical songs performed in a dozen different tongues.

Officina Zoè
Formed in 1993 in Salento, Officina Zoè are in the forefront of the revival of interest in Italian folk styles such as tarantella and pizzica, one of the one of the oldest and most vibrant of the Mediterranean’s traditional dance rhythms. Their all-acoustic music, incorporating flutes, accordions, guitars, harmonicas, fiddles and mandolins, has become highly popular with Italian film directors seeking to evoke a rustic past, but the six-strong group has also broadened its repertoire of ancient songs and dances to include original compositions, rejuvenating pizzica’s folk traditions while remaining true to its acoustic spirit. Officina Zoè will be supported by Puglia Sounds.

Parvathy Baul and Somjit Dasgupta
Born into a Bengali Brahmin family, Mousumi Parial was classically trained but her musical career took a dramatic change of direction at 16 when she encountered a blind street musician performing the traditional folk songs of the mystic Baul minstrels. Struck by the spiritual intensity of the music, she changed her name and spent the next few years studying under a series of gurus, emerging as one of the most exciting contemporary performers of Baul music and the leading female voice in a male-dominated tradition. A multi-instrumentalist and dancer as well as a singer, she has since performed in forty countries around the world.

Raquel Tavares
Fado music continues to flourish in Portugal, with concerts and contests aplenty. Raquel Tavares is testament to this; with her compelling voice, blend of old plus newly-composed songs, and line-up that is sometimes traditional but sometimes uses kit drums, she has brought a new sound to a genre whose passion and intensity always appeals.

Savina Yannatou
This Greek singer began performing with the group Primavera en Salonico more than twenty years ago and made a memorable WOMAD appearance in 1996. Initially singing Sephardic and Mediterranean songs, she has expanded her repertoire to encompass a sound without borders or labels, poetically described as ‘rope-dancing on the chord which connects East and West and ancient and modern’. Classical forms, traditional polyphony, improvisational jazz and songs which date back all the way to Byzantium feed in to the acoustic mix in which Yannatou’s voice weaves seamlessly or soars thrillingly, as the music dictates.

Trad Attack!
TRAD.ATTACK! draws it’s inspiration from archive recordings of the great Estonian folk singers and from music of today. The band takes it’s inspiration from there and brings old voices and  music to the 21st century, creating an impressively big sound from acoustic 12-string guitar, drums, an array of whistles, bagpipes and jew’s harps. They reconcile the future with the past and do it cheerfully and complex-free, radiating energy inherent to a visionary, child-like joy of life, craziness and love. Since their debut in 2014, the band has made it their mission to perform in every country in the world playing in 29 countries so far from Chile till  Malaysia.

This band, which shares its name with a volcano and a wine, was formed by two ex-members of Spaccanapoli; violinist Antonio Fraioli and frame drum specialist Francesco Manna. Combining with the distinctive vocals and guitar of Antonio Di Ponte, the band is the latest to come from the flourishing roots music scene of southern Italy.

For 30 years this five-piece group has passionately performed the songs of their home region, Castilla-La Mancha, best known as the setting for the tale of Don Quixote. They kept alive the songs from their own village, learning songs from anyone who would sing to them.  Now they are bringing their fresh approach to Spanish folk to concerts and festivals across Europe – this is their UK debut.