Welsh artists announced for WOMEX 2024

Welsh artists announced for WOMEX 2024

Welsh artists announced for WOMEX 2024
Cerys Hafana (photo: Heledd Wyn) and N’famady Kouyate

Today two acclaimed Welsh artists have been announced who will represent Wales at this year’s highly anticipated WOMEX.

Wales Arts International, Tŷ Cerdd and Manchester Music City, the hosts of this year’s WOMEX (Worldwide Music Expo) in Manchester, have announced that the artists representing Wales on the Horizons stage at WOMEX later this year will be Cerys Hafana and N’famady Kouyaté.

Wales Arts International, founded in 2013 at WOMEX Cardiff, played a key role in the creation of HORIZONS, a partnership that the diverse music of Wales, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland and England that helps artists gain international recognition on the world stage.

Not a family member Kouyate

In addition to the Welsh artists, Amy Laurenson and Gnoss are the artists representing Scotland; Balimaya Project and Gwenifer Raymond representing England; Strange Boy for the Republic of Ireland, Córas Trio for Northern Ireland and Rioghnach Connolly & Honeyfeet for the host city of Manchester.

Welsh history and innovation

Cerys Hafana, a composer and multi-instrumentalist from Machynlleth, is known for transforming traditional music by exploring the creative possibilities of the triple harp and integrating found sounds, archive material and electronic processing.

Her second album, Edyf, released in 2022, was named one of the top ten folk albums by The Guardian and featured on Cerys Matthews’ BBC 6 Music ‘Highlights of 2022’ show.

“Edyf” combines fragments of psalm tunes, hymns and philosophical reflections from the Welsh National Library’s online archive with original compositions, featuring Welsh triple harp, bodhrán, double bass, alto horn and electronically enhanced sounds.

Her latest EP, “The Bitter,” released in January of this year, has received rave reviews. TradFolk praised it, noting, “The genius of this EP lies in the thoughtful reinterpretations of timeless songs that have been played a thousand times.”

With a busy year ahead of her, she will also be appearing at festivals this summer including WOMAD, Green Man and End Of The Road, before appearing at WOMEX in October.

Cerys Hafana said: “I have been aware of the significance of WOMEX to the folk and world music scene for most of my musical life, so it is very exciting to be playing there for the first time this year.

“I can’t wait to bring the Welsh triple harp to this international stage, especially in Manchester, a city close to my heart, and I would like to thank Wales Arst International and the Horizons project for their support.”

Cerys Hafana. Credit: Heledd Wyn

Joined by Cerys, and fresh from this year’s Glastonbury festival, Not a fan of Kouyate, a dynamic musician from Guinea (Conakry) who moved to Cardiff in 2019.

He captivated audiences in the UK and Ireland with his modern interpretations of traditional West African Mandingue songs while supporting Gruff Rhys on tour.

N’famady mainly plays the balafon and combines African Mandingue rhythms with Western jazz, pop, indie and funk in his performances. He does this with a wide range of instruments and musicians.

His debut EP, released in July 2021 and recorded at Rockfield Studios, features collaborations with well-known artists and combines Guinean songs with Welsh lyrics. Despite COVID-19 restrictions, N’famady maintained an active online presence and performed at several festivals, culminating in a successful UK tour in late 2022, supported by the PRS Foundation’s Momentum grant, cementing his growing fanbase in the UK and West Africa.

In 2023, he won the Emerging Talent competition at Glastonbury Festival and performed there again this month. He performs in multiple languages, including Welsh, Mandinka and Susu.

N’famady Kouyaté said: “I am so happy to have been given a showcase at WOMEX this year. I can’t wait to bring my band along to celebrate 30 years of a fantastic event that supports a vibrant and inclusive music community.”

Global Relations

Speaking ahead of the event in October, Eluned Haf, Head of Wales Arts International, said: “I am delighted that Cerys and N’Famady will be representing Wales at WOMEX this year.

“Cerys Hafana with her Welsh triple harp and N’Famady Kuyote with the Balafon performing on the Horizons stage are a testament to the wealth of talent and culture that Wales has to offer the world.

“Eleven years since we hosted WOMEX in Cardiff, a lot has changed. Welsh musicians have built relationships worldwide and Wales has become instrumental in promoting indigenous music and culture.”

The Horizons partnership is supported by Wales Arts International, Arts Council of Wales, Culture Ireland, Arts Council of England, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, The National Lottery via Creative Scotland, British Council and British Underground. In addition to exhibiting their music, artists will also have access to advice, funding and assistance during the event.

WOMEX Cardiff 2013

Eluned Haf added: “The Horizons partnership we created for WOMEX in Cardiff in 2013 goes from strength to strength.

“By working together, musicians and companies learn from each other and create pathways and more opportunities to reach promoters and organizers of concerts and festivals.”

WOMANEX 24

WOMEX 24 will take place in Manchester from 23 to 27 October. It is expected that 2,600 music industry professionals from 90 different countries will attend.

The five-day event is produced by Manchester Music City partner English Folk Expo. Manchester Central will host the main daytime conference and trade fair, with live music showcases, club nights and films across the Albert Hall, Aviva Studios, Manchester Central, O2 Ritz and HOME.

The second wave of official showcase artists has also been announced, with 33 amazing acts from 35 countries ready to entertain the audience and showcase incredible talent. The program is shaped by an independent jury of music industry professionals from around the world.

The first public tickets for the WOMEX showcases are now on sale via the WOMEX website.

Wales Arts International also works with partners in Wales, including Tŷ Cerdd and Trac, to deliver an artist development programme.

An announcement will follow shortly of the artists and music industry contacts who have been awarded grants to attend WOMEX in Manchester this year as delegates.


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