WOMAD, the international World of Music, Arts & Dance festival series founded by Peter Gabriel and cohorts Thomas Brooman and Bob Hooton 18 years ago is finally making a home for itself in the States. The festival will debut in the Seattle area July 31 through August 2, 1998 with a line up of close to 40 artists from all corners of the world. The event was announced at a press conference yesterday in Seattle.
The organizers have reportedly signed a five-year contract with Seattle's One Reel, the producers of Bumbershoot, a non-profit city-wide festival touted as one of best of its kind in the country, staged annually on the Labor Day weekend.
WOMAD USA will be held on 15 acres at Marymoor Park in Redmond, Washington, just east of the city. American artists announced so far include Tuatara, Joan Osborne, Wilco, Bela Fleck & the Flecktones, the Klezmatics and Ulali. International acts include some known names in America such as Ravi Shankar and Billy Bragg, but more often than not the roster for the multi-cultural festival encompasses artists who are stars largely within their own borders. Those announced to date hail from Argentina, Brazil, the Congo, France, Kenya, South Africa, Senegal, Spain, Tanzania, Madagascar, Russia, Zimbabwe and Tibet.
WOMAD organizers traditionally promote up to 15 festivals each year in locales that have included Venice, Austria, Japan, The UK, and Indonesia. This year's events are planned for South Australia, Spain, Singapore, The UK, Greece, Canary Islands and Portugal. They staged a whirlwind tour of the States in 1993 and 1994 with the likes of Gabriel and other WOMAD regulars along side Crowded House, Lenny Kravitz, Stereo MCs, Paula Cole, Sinead O'Connor and others, but it's never been produced in this country in festival form until now.
"Ever since we got the ball rolling with WOMAD in 1980, it has been part of our dream to find a good home for WOMAD in the US. This WOMAD USA event at Marymoor Park is going to be the very first, full WOMAD weekend in the U.S.," said Gabriel in a statement.
The live performances will take place on three mainstages, and the artists will also lead other educational and cultural activities such as master classes, music and dance demonstrations and workshops. A Global Village will feature ethnic crafts and food.
According to One Reel's Terri Hiroshima, the full line-up along with ticket prices and other details will be announced in mid-April.