Articles review on the net, revue d'articles sur la toile

Inscription : feeds, flux :
(Atom) Gabriel Real World News

31 mars 2007

Womad founder using music to do good in the world

The first Womad event was held in England 25 years ago and, despite breaking the mainstream mould, it has found world-wide success. Michelle Sutton talks to co-founder, Thomas Brooman, on his way to this weekend's festival in Taranaki.

The softly-spoken gentlemen over the phone sounds too conservative to have created Womad. After all, the festival is all about beating drums, or hip-hop, wild dancing and diverse music, but co-founder Thomas Brooman's proper British accent sounds about as foreign as a date scone.

"I might sound very enthusiastic on the phone, but for us it's really a pleasure," says Brooman, who was on his way to New Plymouth for Womad this weekend.

He is the festival's artistic director, but he sounds like a mainstream, middle-aged dad. Nothing like the stereotype that has shadowed the fesitval - that it is only for hippies - since it started.

But, first impressions aside, it soon becomes clear the polite Englishman is the driving force behind the alternative world of music and dance.

His fascination with music from other cultures began when he was a child and his economist father moved the family to South America to live for two years. Brooman was immersed in the lively culture of Buenos Aires and it had a profound effect. "It was the first time I was aware of different rhythms and different melodies."

But it wasn't until the 1980s that he would dance to his own beat on a world stage.

The idea for Womad, which has since developed into 145 festivals in 24 countries, originally began over a chance meeting and a casual discussion about music.

A 24-year-old Brooman worked at The Bristol Recorder, a music magazine he founded, when he interviewed the lead singer of rock band Genesis, Peter Gabriel, following the release of their second album. A few weeks later, Gabriel phoned Brooman to ask if he would help bring over an African group the magazine had featured, to perform in England. "This was in the days of a lot of unemployment, and punk rock, and there was an independent attitude that was very much the spirit of the time. It was in that very gung-ho era that we set up," says Brooman.

"After two to three months, we concocted up an idea for a festival. It was an idea that seemed to grow of its own accord and after 18 months of enthusiastic and highly amateur planning, we presented the first festival in 1982."

It was held in Somerset, England, with five stages over three days, 24 different countries represented and attended by about 17,000 people.

It was, says Brooman, a success from the start, even though the term "world music" had yet to be coined - that was thought up six years later by record-label companies struggling to categorise the sound in music shops.

But before Womad could travel the world, there were hurdles the partners had to overcome. "When we started we didn't even have fax machines, so communication was the biggest hurdle."
The festival also had to battle for survival in the money-driven music industry, especially as it strayed from the mainstream. But that was also part of its appeal. "It was all about tolerence of one another and celebrating cultural differences."

And Brooman knew it had to make money, or financial partnerships, to endure. But one of his toughest battles in establishing the festival has been with the critics.

"They take the mickey out of it quite easily," says Brooman, "They caricature people who enjoy this music as hippies, alternative, and rather mock them as earnest do-gooders and that kind of thing."

He dismisses the stereotype, but politely of course: "I don't think what we do is for everybody."

Then again, he concedes, maybe the critics are right. "I'm happy, I like to do good in my life, I suppose. "Earnest? Well, um, yeah I guess I probably am, so I guess I would fit that (stereotype)." "But, I would rather be that then a hard, cynical, jaded individual," he concludes, "so maybe it's not a bad thing."

Aucun commentaire: