For more than a decade, globalFEST has been bringing bands from around the world to New York for a one-day festival. But its aim is about more than just showcasing great music. The festival aims to narrow the gap between cultures while helping international artists develop sustainable, long-term careers. This year’s festival features 12 acts on three stages at Webster Hall. Here’s a guide to what to expect from each of the regions represented.
Those with the shortest distance to travel include the Music Maker Blues Revue, which celebrates classic Southern blues, and Debauche, a New Orleans group that plays what it calls “Russian Mafia Music,” merging punk with traditional Russian, klezmer, Ukrainian and Balkan sounds.
New York will be represented by Somi, a jazz/R&B singer of Rwandan and Ugandan descent, who was born in Illinois but received a master’s degree from NYU. Sometimes compared to Nina Simone, Somi’s 2013 album “The Lagos Music Salon” hit No. 1 on the Billboard jazz chart and featured guest appearances from Angelique Kidjo and Common.
Mexico gives us Astrid Hadad, who has been performing since the 1980s. Her shows are part cabaret, part performance art, filled with outrageous costumes and sharp political humor. Haiti is represented by collective Lakou Mizik, which combines African, French, Caribbean and American influences.
Tribu Baharu, which is making its U.S. debut, is a Colombian Afro-champeta band that promises a dance party. It performs an upbeat mix of African, Colombia and Caribbean music with elements of calypso, soca and reggae.
Europe’s entries epitomize the cross-cultural collaborations globalFEST aims to support. London’s The Dhol Foundation plays Indian bhangra music combined with electronic dance beats. Its music has appeared in movies including “Gangs of New York” and “The Incredible Hulk.”
France’s Ginkgoa, which is made up of a woman from New York and a man from Paris, is an electro-influenced duo that met at a Parisian jazz club and decided to make “French songs with an American vibe and American songs with a French touch,” all meant to make people dance. A more traditional take on European music comes from the Stelios Petrakis Quartet, which performs music from Crete.
Mariana Sadovska, a Ukrainian who now lives in Germany, is a singer, actress and composer who is sometimes referred to as “the Ukrainian Bjork” for her ability to combine traditional folk music with avant-garde experiments.
Africa & the Middle East
Melaku Belay is one of Ethiopia’s leading dancers and musicians, performing with traditional Ethiopian groups as well as jazz bands. His group Fendika appears here. Simon Shaheen’s Zafir combines the Arab music of Al-Andalus, which began in the Middle East and North Africa, with flamenco from Spain, demonstrating the cross pollination between the regions that began more than a thousand years ago.