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GlobalFEST: New World Music Festival to Host Sixteen Acts on January 10, 2004

Trio of U.S. Presenters Joins Forces to Break 'Glass Ceiling' for World Music

Luminaries Spanning Five Continents Set to Take NYC Audiences & Performing Arts Industry by Storm

Since 9/11, dozens of articles have run in major newspapers about the difficulty of foreign artists gaining entry for concert tours in the U.S. A handful of key, grassroots activists in the world music field are now taking things into their own hands to break down barriers for artists touring the USA and Canada, and to raise the profile of world music within the touring market.

The result is GlobalFEST; a one-night fête modeled after other popular music industry events that draw in players from the Performing Arts industry and the public at large. As part of the Arts Presenters Annual Conference, GlobalFEST will present short performances of sixteen artists from Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and the Americas on three stages at The Public Theater including Joe's Pub over a six-hour period on Saturday, January 10, 2004. Performances will run from 8 p.m. to approximately 1:30 a.m., with a DJ party continuing until closing time at 4:00 a.m. All-night passes are available for $40 from Telecharge, 212-239-6200 beginning December 1. Organizers hope to simultaneously reveal extraordinary performers to new ears at the fan level, while exposing concert presenters from around North America to the artists for consideration over the next few years.

Intended to be an annual event, GlobalFEST has struck an amazing balance in repertoire and performers, drawing on a broad definition of world music. From the hip-hop/rumba beats of Cuban singer Raul Paz, to some of the world's finest vocalists, including Portuguese fado star Mariza and Anglo/Indian chanteuse Susheela Raman, audiences of all stripes are sure to find sounds suited to their tastes. Fans looking for roots music might take in Tania Libertad’s provocative Peruvian landos and Mexican boleros or Forro In The Dark's Northeastern Brazilian dance music called baião. Others may get uprooted and onto the dance floor with Brazilian global percussionist Cyro Baptista’s Beat the Donkey or fall into a trance to Mercan Dede’s Turkish Secret Tribe. If you want political songs, listen to the dulcet voice of South Africa’s Vusi Mahlasela or the rhythms of Haiti’s queen of song, Emeline Michel. For something that spans tradition and modern improvisation, take note of Benin-born, Paris/Brooklyn-based Angélique Kidjo (in an intimate all-acoustic set), Greece’s Savina Yannatou and Primavera en Salonico, France’s Yiddish/Gypsy band Les Yeux Noirs, the piano-adapted flamenco of Spain’s Diego Amador, and Lebanese oud (plucked lute)-player Marcel Khalife. And if that is not enough, stay out all night with New York’s own DJ collective, GlobeSonic.

Not only have GlobalFEST organizers focused on high quality performers and diversity of origin as criteria for artist selection, they have also sought artists appropriate for a variety of performing contexts: concert halls, cabaret settings, dancehalls, and festivals. And to ensure a strong audience and an original feel, they selected both established and emerging artists.  

“We were looking for some artists who would be fresh and lesser known even to those actively presenting world music regularly,” explains Bill Bragin, director of Joe’s Pub at The Public Theater, and one of three key players behind GlobalFEST. “And then some artists who have played on the established ‘world music’ circuit, but who are primed to move to more ‘general interest’ presenters… ready to move from the five-to-ten-market tours to thirty or forty markets. Also, we needed people with a commitment to touring North America. We are not merely doing this to have an incredible world music festival. We want the performances to lead into touring over the next few years, and to help expand the visibility of world music in general throughout the U.S. and Canada.”

The other two initiators behind the GlobalFEST concept are Isabel Soffer, associate director of NYC’s World Music Institute (WMI); and Maure Aronson, director of World Music, Inc., Boston, which has a similar mission to WMI. The ad hoc trio, who have been key in bringing world music performers to stages in America in recent years and are active in an emerging North American World Music Coalition, have created the event to be a part of the Association of Performing Arts Presenters (Arts Presenters) 47th Annual Members Conference, the most important booking event in North America. Arts Presenters is a national service and advocacy organization with more than 1,400 members worldwide dedicated to bringing artists and audiences together. Many of the organizers of America’s performing arts centers and music festivals book much of their annual schedule as a result of showcases and contacts at Arts Presenters.

The Cultural Services of the French Embassy to the U.S. are the principal sponsor of GlobalFEST. With the participation of the French Music Export Office in New York at least five of the featured artists at GlobalFEST will be affiliated with French music labels. “The French Embassy's Cultural Services have participated in the Arts Presenters conference, the largest North American meeting for performing arts professionals, for several years,” said Emmanuel Morlet, the director of the music department of the French Embassy. “In 2004, for the first time, Arts Presenters will celebrate world music by dedicating its opening night and a number of panels to the artists and professionals from this sector. We are proud to participate fully in the support of this event, which carries a much-needed message of cultural diversity.” GlobalFEST is additionally made possible by the support of the participating artists, and their record labels and booking agencies.

Presenter tickets for Arts Presenters conference attendees are currently on-sale through the Arts Presenters; general public tickets will go on sale on December 1, 2003 through, 212.239.6200 or The Public Theater Box office. Artists and schedule are subject to change. For more information on GlobalFEST, visit; on The Public Theater visit; and on this year’s Arts Presenters Conference, which is held at the Hilton New York and Towers, NYC, visit  

Savina Yannatou is appearing with the generous support of the Ministry of Culture in Greece.

Note these cancellations from previous listings: DJ Dolores, Diego El Cigala, Kayhan Kalhor, and Rajery. New additions to the schedule: Diego Amador, Forro in the Dark, and Angélique Kidjo. Stay tuned for additional updates.

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