The Guardian festival blog: Womad review – from gnawa to Turkish protest songs, world music celebrates | Culture

African music has always played a major role at Womad, and the most impressive newcomers this year were a young seven-piece from Soweto, South Africa. BCUC have shaken up the country’s tradition for harmony singing with a style that combines township vocals, hymns and spirituals with furious, insistent percussion, hip-hop, punk energy, and a real sense of danger. They started gently, then switched to a frantic percussion workout from bass drums, congas, whistles and shakers. The music built furiously, then ebbed away, allowing for fine, soulful vocals from their female singer Kgomotso Mokone or intense lectures about the spirit world of the ancestors from singer Jovi Nkosi. Then the barrage of percussion returned, driven by insistent, sturdy bass lines, as the crowd followed the band’s instructions to go “a bit crazy” and Nkosi declared that the frantic scenes were “beyond our wildest dreams”.

This was an…


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