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03 novembre 2007

Youssou N'Dour: caught in the middle

Band leader: Youssou N'Dour's stature means he could run for president

Fans at home want one sound, fans abroad another. Youssou N'Dour tells Peter Culshaw why it's hard being Africa's most famous singer

The man opposite me in a London hotel like a dapper businessman but he's been described by Rolling Stone as "perhaps the most famous singer alive", by Time as one of the planet's 100 most influential people, and by Peter Gabriel as having a "voice of liquid gold".
I'm talking with Senegal's Youssou N'Dour about his unique cultural position as a bridge between the West and Africa. We discuss the street scene in Dakar, Senegal's capital, where the tourist market has ethnic rugs and drums, while the Senegalese go to the market next door to buy iPods and posters of Madonna. The locals and the outsiders both have a powerful fantasy of the other, a cultural dynamic that often makes life uncomfortable for N'Dour.

"More and more these days, the rest of the world loves music from Africa that is pure, traditional and powerful, whereas the Senegalese always want me to do something modern, with keyboards and guitars."

His new album, Rokku Mi Rokka, sees him leaning towards the modern but his previous, acoustic, album, Egypt (2004), highlighted the dilemma. Listeners outside Africa adored the record, it sold well over 100,000 copies and picked up a Grammy, a Mobo and a Radio 3 World Music Award. "The album wasn't initially liked at all in Senegal – although they were proud when it achieved such acclaim, and then they started listening to it."

It's not always easy to be in his position, he tells me – he was criticised for his role in Amazing Grace (2006), which chronicled William Wilberforce's efforts to end slavery. N'Dour played the small part of African abolitionist Olaudaqh Equiano, which was seen by many as tokenistic, as was his appearance at Live 8, which didn't feature other African artists on the main stages.

"It's difficult. With these situations I usually think it's better to do something than nothing. People think that because I'm well known I could have changed how a Hollywood film was made, but that's not true."

He says the experience has made him more interested in producing a film in Senegal himself. As far as Live 8 goes, he now says "If they do something like that again without Africans – which was a mistake – I'm not the one who's gonna step in."
Now 48, N'Dour has been in top Senegalese bands since the age of 14, when he joined the Star Band, who played the popular Cuban-influenced music of the time. By the early 1980s, he was forging a new style, mbalax, which incorporated more traditional Senegalese elements, in his group Super Etoile de Dakar. The only initial problem was the opposition of his father, a designer.
"It was a difficult time, but he eventually gave his authorisation to me to be a musician." His father is still a big influence and keeps him from becoming arrogant: "It's very difficult to see my father if I've done anything bad."

N'Dour has seven children, the eldest is 22 and studying for an MBA in the US. How would he react if one of his children announced he or she wanted to be a musician? "I would say it's a difficult path, but if they had a big talent, why not?"

N'Dour rather downplays his business empire: "I have a radio station, which I hope to be a place to encourage democracy and liberty, and a club. But they still lose money."
He is more proud of his work combating Aids and malaria in Senegal. Such is his stature, there are many who have said he should run for president of the country, but he says, "I think I'm in a better position where I am. I can support and sometimes denounce. To be a politician you have to learn to lie – to be an artist you have to be honest."

Since his biggest hit, Seven Seconds, the 1994 duet with Neneh Cherry, some of his records have seemed over-produced, as labels such as Sony have attempted to replicate the single's million-selling success.

"I've learned enough to produce myself," he says, and tells me he's happier on his current label, Nonesuch, which is more of a boutique art label.

"It's not that anyone exactly told me what to do before. The pressure was more subtle than that. It was more the context." On Nonesuch, he feels that he is competing with fellow label artists such as the composer John Adams or the jazz guitarist Pat Metheny, artists who have "integrity and respect", like the label.

If Egypt was an album of deep religiosity, an exploration of his mystical Islamic faith, Rokku Mi Rokka, which he produced in his own studio in Dakar, is, he says "more fun. I feel happier – it's more a dancing record. The title means 'You give me something, I give you something', and that's the message of the album: we have received a lot from the developed world, but remember that we brought a lot, too."

'Rokku Mi Rokka' by Youssou N'Dour is out now on Nonesuch.

02 novembre 2007


A Reel Progress Screening November 8, 2007, 7:00pm –9:30pm
Featured Panelists:
Andrea Nix Fine
, Director, War/Dance
Sean Fine
, Director, War/Dance
Michael Poffenberger
, Executive Director, Resolve Uganda
John Prendergast
, Co-Founder, The ENOUGH Project
Moderated by: Gayle Smith, Co-Founder, The ENOUGH Project

ENOUGH, Think Films, Shine Global, and the Center for American Progress are pleased to present War/Dance. Set in Northern Uganda, a country ravaged by more than two decades of civil war, War/Dance tells the story of Dominic, Rose, and Nancy, three children whose families have been torn apart, their homes destroyed, and who currently reside in a displaced persons camp in Patongo. When they are invited to compete in an annual music and dance festival, their historic journey to their nation's capital is also an opportunity to regain a part of their childhood and to taste victory for the first time in their lives.

Please join us for a provocative panel discussion and Q&A session immediately following the film. Location :E Street Cinema, 555 11th Street NW, Washington, DC 20004


Andrea Nix Fine has produced, directed, and written films for National Geographic on the world's most remote cultures and scientific explorations, from Inuit hunting rituals in Greenland to Nile croc research in the swamps of Botswana. She was a key producer on "Songs From the Source," a documentary celebrating the musical roots of Peter Gabriel's Real World record label...


They met in the Tuareg rebel camps in Libya, where the Saharan ethnic group relocated following uprisings in Mali. Here, these displaced musicians found inspiration in traditional Tuareg music and poetry – the melodies used by West African poets known as griots and the softly hypnotic rhythm of the tindé drum.

“And I suppose that when Tinariwen started, a big inspiration was also our situation at that time,” says Abdallah Ag Alhousseyni, “the exile we were living and the feelings of homesickness, anger, and loss that it generated.”
With songs written in a mixture of Tamashek and French, the band has been spreading stories of struggle and messages of hope for over 25 years. As the situation in the Saharan area settled, the subject matter of Tinariwen’s music shifted.

“Many of the songs that we are writing now are about more recent subjects,” says Alhousseyni, “about our love for the desert, our pride in who we are, the need for the Tuareg to unite, to educate their children, to develop themselves and their homeland.”

On the band’s latest album, Aman Iman, Tinariwen has continued to explore its fusion of traditional Tuareg and other forms of “desert music” with Western blues and country influences. For this effort, the band worked with producer Justin Adams and sound engineer Ben Findlay, the latter of whom has worked with Peter Gabriel and Baaba Maal. Alhousseyni notes that the band’s production team helped to create a large sound “without making it too clean and polished.”

“We wanted to keep the desert sand in our sound, because that’s what makes it so particular,” he adds. “It’s a difficult balance to achieve.”

Tinariwen’s music helped bring together the Tuareg exiles during their period of displacement. Without newspapers or radio programs produced in their native tongue, the Tuaregs had little means to learn or understand about the situations arising around them. As troubadours, Tinariwen helped dispense information to the masses.

“Since we’ve come out of the desert and into the wider role, our music is still doing the same job,” says Alhousseyni, “except that our audience now is not only our fellow Tuareg, but anyone the world over who is curious about the desert and about the Tuareg.”

He continues, “And, in the end, I suppose that education and awareness foster peace, because once people are really aware of who they are and what their situation is, it will give them the impulse to improve their lives. Of course, this can initially lead to conflict, as it did in our case, but the final result must always be peace, because that’s the only way in which humans can live a fruitful life.”

Liz Ohanesian, Mirror Contributing Writer

Yungchen Lhamo to accompany Bill T. Jones at Musée du Louvre

The American choreographer, Bill T Jones, will create an exceptional site-specific work in the context of Anselm Kiefer’s “guest” presence at the Louvre in Autumn 2007. The work, inspired by Anselm Kiefer’s overall theme of “frontiers”, will take place in one of the Museum’s most spectacular locations: the one-hundred metre perspective which stretches from the steps of the Winged Victory of Samothrace, to the Renaissance Arch (from the Stanga Palace) in which the celebrated sculptures of “Slaves” by Michaelangelo are framed.

The connecting sculpture galleries, created under Napoleon 3rd in which the very unique references to the body in western art are evoked, from early sarcophagi through to the highly stylized “mannerist” Italian works to the more purely classic examples by Canova.

It will be through this historical perspective that Bill T Jones will create and perform “Walking the Line” accompanied by the Tibetan singer, Yungchen Lhamo, and the French percussionist, Florent Jodelet.

Performances will be on November 20, 22 & 24.

Musée du Louvre

Création chorégraphique de Bill T. Jones [Cette manifestation est complète]

Pièce chorégraphique pour les espaces de la galerie Michel-Ange et la galerie Daru.

Anselm Kiefer au Louvre

Faces à Faces

À l’invitation d’Anselm Kiefer, le chorégraphe américain Bill T. Jones présentera au Louvre un solo exceptionnel, accompagné de Yungchen Lhamo (voix) et Florent Jodelet (percussions), avec des lumières de Robert Wierzel.

Cette création, inspirée par le thème d’Anselm Kiefer, « Frontières », prend place dans l’un des lieux les plus spectaculaires du palais : la perspective d’une centaine de mètres qui se déroule, aux pieds de l’escalier de la Victoire de Samothrace, jusqu’à l’arc sculpté Renaissance (du Palais Stanga) qui encadre les célèbres effigies d’Esclaves de Michel-Ange.

Les deux galeries de sculptures en enfilade, dessinées et « scénographiées » de manière si suggestive sous Napoléon III, constituent à elles seules un voyage à travers les évocations du corps dans l’art occidental, depuis les sarcophages et effigies antiques jusqu’aux figures animées du Maniérisme italien et au classicisme de Canova. C’est le long de ce fil tissé par une muséographie historique que Bill T. Jones déroule Walking The Line, accompagné de la chanteuse tibétaine Jungchen Lhamo et du percussionniste français Florent Jodelet.

Un parti esthétique est tiré de cette « boîte optique » qui est aussi une « boîte acoustique ». Visuellement opèrent des relations d’échelle changeantes entre la figure mouvante du danseur et les sculptures qui rythment la perspective des galeries. Acoustiquement, en jouant d’emplacements variant entre le lointain et le proche, les musiciens éveillent, de même, cette perception de l’étendue. Un voyage imaginaire s’esquisse dans ce qui devient momentanément un no man’s land, le lieu onirique d’une rencontre avec des objets venus de lieux et de moments différents de l’histoire.

Né en Floride en 1952, Bill T. Jones est danseur et chorégraphe. Il est également co-fondateur et directeur artistique de la Bill T. Jones/ Arnie Zane Dance Company, créée en 1982. Dans ses solos comme dans les pièces chorégraphies pour sa compagnie, il fait de l’exploration du mouvement expressif le lieu, parfois contesté, où se croisent et interagissent plusieurs éléments : biographie individuelle et identité, contexte historique plus large, conventions sociales et moralité. Sa dernière chorégraphie, Blind date, était présentée à la Maison des Arts de Créteil en mars 2007.

Née dans un camp de travail des environs de Lhasa au Tibet, Yungchen Lhamo est une chanteuse reconnue dans le monde entier depuis une vingtaine d'années. Perpétuant la mémoire vive de son pays, elle pratique la religion bouddhiste et travaille à la liberté du Tibet. Elle chante avec la même aisance a capella avec un accompagnement traditionnel minimal qu'aux côtés de musiciens internationaux sur des arrangements ethno-rocks.

Florent Jodelet est un percussionniste soliste reconnu en France et à l'étranger. Depuis le début de sa carrière en 1984, il interprète le répertoire historique et collabore activement avec les compositeurs afin d'étoffer le répertoire contemporain de percussion, dont certaines œuvres lui sont dédiées. Il est également soliste de l'Orchestre National de France et enseigne au Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris.

DPA supports Real World in Cambodia

Cambodia - DPA Microphones has donated a pair of 4091 omnidirectional instrument mics to Studio CLA in Phnom Penh. The studio, set up by US producer Scot Stafford in conjunction with the Cambodian Living Arts project, documents and records the repertoire and skills of Cambodia's master musicians for the next generation of musicians. The project is supported by Peter Gabriel's Real World organisation, which arranged the donation of audio equipment as well as sending experienced recording technicians to assist on key projects.

Real World became involved last year when Gabriel's studio and monitor engineer Richard Chappell visited Cambodia and met Kong Nay, one of Cambodia's few surviving master musicians. Kong Nay subsequently performed at last summer's WOMAD festival, followed by a UK tour organised, booked, promoted and engineered by Chappell to raise funds for the musicians' cause.

Chappell then returned to Cambodia to deliver the mics and other equipment to the studio. They were put to work recording music for a rock opera, Where Elephants Weep, which combines traditional Khmer music with Western styles to create the first-known contemporary Cambodian opera. The recordings are for a CD to support the opera when it opens in Phnom Penh next year.

The score, by Russian-trained Cambodian composer Sophy Him and co-producer Scot Stafford, draws on classical western, ancient Cambodian, and contemporary popular American music. Sophy Him worked together with an instrument designer to 'reinvent' some traditional Cambodian instruments, called a Gong thom chromatique and Roneat aik chromatique, which have both Cambodian and Western scales.

"These are twice the size of normal Cambodian instruments so it was great to have the DPA omnis, as they gave us a much larger pickup area due to their sensitivity," says Chappell. "We used them as the main recording mics for both instruments, the optimum position being as left and right overheads. The sound of the capsules is very open and uncoloured; a great way of representing something which has such a unique sound. When it came to recording the kick drum, I found that a single 4091 was a great addition. Sophy was very excited with the representation of his instruments, and with the help of DPA Microphones, Studio CLA is being brought right up to date."

Jim Evans

01 novembre 2007

N'Dour on Tour

In the last 20 years, world music has carved out a substantial, if broadly defined niche in the American music market. The term has become as ubiquitous as adultoriented rock or some other such catchphrase.

That this is the case is due in no small part to the Senegalese vocalist Youssou N’Dour. If James Brown was the hardest-working man in show business, N’Dour has certainly given the Godfather of Soul a run for his money. With more than 25 albums to his credit, as well as countless guest appearances on other artists’ platters, the 48-year-old has reached levels of popularity that would be the envy of many recording musicians.

On November 18, N’Dour’s train makes a stop in Kingston with a performance at the UPAC.

Popular music in Senegal has its roots in mbalax, a blend of the country’s traditional percussion and praise singing that combined with Afro-Cuban arrangements. This mix was updated with a dash of Senegalese dance rhythms, guitar and saxophone solos, and talking drum soliloquies.

Played by a generation of musicians steeped in the American rock and soul styles of Jimi Hendrix, Carlos Santana, James Brown, and others, mbalax is both celebratory and raucously funky. The melting pot of the cosmopolitan capital of Dakar has served as the crucible for this music, and N’Dour has been at the forefront of introducing mbalax as a worldwide phenomenon as a bandleader, composer, and performer. He burst into the Western limelight through several high-profile guest appearances on records by Peter Gabriel, most notably their duet on the hit single “In Your Eyes.” The song was a watershed moment in world pop fusion.

N’Dour’s own band, the Super Etoile, certainly had hardscrabble beginnings, performing pirate gigs outside of Dakar’s nightclubs and relying on the benevolence of the Senegalese taxi drivers' fraternal association in France and a small group of supporters in England in order to launch its international career.

N’Dour’s distinctive tenor lends itself to storytelling, buttressed by his four-octave range. N’Dour increased his worldwide prominence through his involvement in the Amnesty International Human Rights Now! Tour, on which he performed alongside such artists as Bruce Springsteen, Tracy Chapman, and Peter Gabriel. In 1988, he performed at Wembley Stadium at a birthday party concert for South African President Nelson Mandela.

Although N’Dour and the Super Etoile have spent the best part of two decades perfecting their distinctive blend of world-music crossover, his more recent work seems to be veering closer to the traditional sounds of West Africa.

On Egypt (Nonesuch, 2004), N’Dour delves more deeply into traditional Sufi spiritual music, employing the Fathy Salama Orchestra, a 14-piece traditional ensemble. In interviews, N’Dour has said that the music on Egypt expresses the tolerance inherent in Islam. When the record was released, N’Dour stated that “our religion has nothing to do with violence, terrorism.” Egypt won N’Dour a Grammy and further cemented his spot in the pantheon of world music performers.

Youssou N’Dour will perform at the UPAC on November 18 at 7pm. (845) 339-6088;

31 octobre 2007

Richard Evans 'Scores' On Movie Soundtrack With Edirol R-09

Writer, producer and arranger Richard Evans uses the award-winning gadget of the year as an ‘audio camera’ and on a movie soundtrack with Peter Gabriel.

Evans has worked at the famous Real World Studios ever since graduating from the Guildhall School Of Music. He has worked alongside many of the biggest names in music including Real World owner Peter Gabriel, top producers Trevor Horn and Stephen Hague and pioneering artist and producer Brian Eno.

Evans has also worked on countless albums and co-wrote and co-produced the Golden Globe-nominated score to 'Rabbit-Proof Fence'. He even manages to find time to play as a multi-instrumentalist in Peter Gabriel’s touring band.

Evans said: “Performance is everything. Equipment wise, keep signal paths and options to a minimum. Learn to use two bits of gear really well and stick with what you know will work, so that the technology is transparent to the artist.”

One piece of recording equipment that Richard is currently enamoured with is Edirol’s award-winning R-09 field recorder, the must have gadget of the year which is designed to quickly and easily record high quality audio at any time and in any place. And Richard has taken this description perhaps a bit too literally.

“I’m using it as an audio camera,” he said. “It’s useful for letting people sing ideas for orchestral arrangements in the studio. It means I have more time to spend sifting through singing ideas. And now there’s no need to carry too much equipment around, just in case I wanted to record some Turkish goat herders.”

The quality of the R-09 has also meant that it has played a key role in a soundtrack recording with Peter Gabriel.

“It has a great sounding mic and a surprisingly uncoloured sound,” said Evans. “And the multiple formats are useful. I used it to write and record songs for some movie credits with Peter Gabriel. I recorded drum overheads, piano, and vocals. It sounds great on the finished film.”

Richard is currently working on a new album for Michael Brook and Djivan Gasparian as well as mixing a soundtrack album for a new IMax film called Sea Monsters. And if there are any Turkish goat herders at Real World, he’ll be recording them with the R09 too.

For detailed information please visit

Don't miss: Pipes of peace

Yungchen Lhamo brings the voice that crossed the Himalayas to escape occupied Tibet to Archa 31 October.

The headliner: Yungchen Lhamo

Yungchen Lhamo's story is almost as amazing as her voice – which is saying something, given that her voice got her dubbed "Goddess of Melody and Song" by a Tibetan lama. Born in a labour camp in Chinese-occupied Tibet. Put to work at a carpet factory at age five. Taught to sing devotional songs by her grandmother. Escaped to India via a 1,000-mile trek across the Himalayas. Now settled in the West and signed to Peter Gabriel's label, Lhamo has taken audiences worldwide into the mystic with her soaring a cappella performances. Following up her star turn at this year's Colours of Ostrava, she will again thrill local crowds as part of the Colours-organised Caravan of Voices concert series. (31 October, 8 p.m., Divadlo Archa)

30 octobre 2007

While the Earth Sleeps

Afternoon Aural: Deep Forest feat. Peter Gabriel

"While the Earth Sleeps"

Back in 1995, James Cameron’s cyberpunk flick Strange Days got lost in the celluloid shuffle partly due to the bad timing of its release (it hit theaters concurrent with Showgirls), partly due to its eclectic themes and, well, partly due to the fact that it’s not really a great movie. Few made it to the closing credits–though those who did were treated to this Deep Forest gem featuring guest vocals by Peter Gabriel.

The Fairlight CMI Series

...By the mid 1970’s, Australian Tony Furse had been working on the idea of digital synthesis for many years. His Quasar M8 project attempted to create sound by modelling the parameters of a waveform in realtime. This was a step too far for the technology of the day, but in 1976 he was approached by Kim Ryrie and Peter Vogel to help develop a microprocessor controlled synthesiser. Taking the Quasar M8, Ryrie and Vogel introduced the idea of using a naturally recorded soundwave as a starting point. The stunning results effectively introduced the concept of digital sampling.

Soon after, Ryrie and Vogel trading as Fairlight Instruments Pty Ltd. (the Fairlight name was borrowed from the Sydney Harbour Hydofoil!) began developing their series of computer musical instruments (CMI’s).

Series I was released in 1979 and featured a 73 note velocity sensitive keyboard, green-screen monitor with a light pen and keyboard interface. Its Lo-Fi sampling rate was quickly superceded by the Series II which had an improved spec of 8 bits at 2100 Hz to 30200 kHz (mono). The Series IIx introduced MIDI and the Series III dropped the light pen in favour of a graphics tablet interface attached to the keyboard and introduced a sampling spec of 16bit 44.1kHz.

The huge impact caused by the introduction of the Fairlight meant that New England Digital were forced to modified their Synclavier release, while E-Mu developed their own Emulator range of digital samplers (see episode one of the Top 5 Greatest Samplers).

The huge cost of producing the CMI Series meant that the company was forced to close in the mid 1980’s, by which time its reputation as innovators in the field of digital sampling had been assured.

We hope you enjoy the show, and we have to thank Peter Gabriel and the guys at Real World Studios for letting us film there during the summer. We’re so glad that Peter has been enjoying the series and a big ‘up’ to Richard Chappell for sourcing the everso rare footage for this episode.

By the way, check out the amazing Play DVD which features all of PG's solo videos in lush 5.1 as well as lots of rare interviews and footage from The Man himself. (Biko? I Don’t Remember? Sledgehammer? Come on!)

28 octobre 2007

MOMIX opens NOBA season with a bang

Are they dancers acrobats, magicians or comics? Eight energetic performers erased such distinctions at Tulane University on Friday, as they twirled and twisted through a briskly paced revue of choreographic highlights from the repertoire of the MOMIX dance troupe.

"The Best of MOMIX" opened the 2007-08 season for the New Orleans Ballet Association, playing to a sold out house in the intimate setting of Dixon Hall. The troupe will reprise its performance tonight at 8.

Props and theatrical lighting played a key role throughout Friday's program of 11 short dances. In the delightful opener, "Sonoran: But Not Asleep" a huge hammock cradled dancer Danielle Arico as she swayed, dipped, flipped and dangled against a background of stars. Her movements were as dreamy as the music: a Swingle Singers arrangement of a slow movement from a Bach Harpsichord Concerto.

The evening's best prop was also the simplest. In "Orbit," Dancer Nicole Loizides used a hula-hoop to extend the range of her movements. With the ring blurring around her, she gyrated her hips and executed astounding high-speed spins that mixed the elegance of a ballerina's fouettes with the centrifugal athleticism of a figure skater. Her telegraphic arm gestures were equally crisp, stopping and starting with freeze-frame precision and never breaking the flow of the dance. Bathed in a golden glow and enclosed by the flickering corona of the hula hoop, Loizedes offered a 21st century update on the "Fire Dance" of Loie Fuller, a dance pioneer who wowed Paris in the Belle Epoque and launched the modern era of stage lighting.

Dancers Sara Kappraff and Timothy Melady treated each other as props in "Tuu," a vaguely ritualistic duet that incorporated yoga poses and extended them into propped and cantilevered postures that would give pause to many a yoga master. At times they moved in unison, mirroring each other's precise gestures. But the most spectacular moments came when Kappraff clung to her partner's back, and, with help from a well-placed backlight, the two dancers became one multi-armed creature.

With such strong dances at the start of the program, I expected a night of increasing wonders. It didn't work out that way, though it wasn't the fault of the hard working performers -- Todd Burnsed, Suzanne Lampl, Steven Ezra Marshall and Brian Simerson -- who joined their colleagues to execute a program that included more duets as well as works for three, four and seven dancers.

Lifted from the context of evening-length works, most of these short pieces were reduced to their basic function as ghee-whiz showstoppers. It was neat, for example, to see four guys link bodies to form a writhing reptile in "Gila Dance," but what did it mean in the end? The music also grew tiresome: spacey anthems drenched in feedback guitar loops and heavily processed "world music" with trance-inducing percussion.

Even the props, usually a strong suit with MOMIX, began to overwhelm the group's dancing. In "Spawning," for example, three female dancers balanced balloons on their noses, carried balloons as if they were the weight of the world, or rode them like ponies. Washed in blue light, and sedated by Peter Gabriel's yawping vocal soundtrack, these talented dancers seemed trapped in a pretentious synchronized swimming show.

Womad at Brooklands Park and TSB Bowl

There's a soul kind of feeling to the line-up for next year's Womad festival in New Plymouth.

In fact, make that a soul diva feeling, with American singers Sharon Jones and Mavis Staples making their way to New Zealand for the three-day world music festival to be held from March 14-16. Jones and her band the Dap-Kings are modern day funk crusaders whose aim is to capture the essence of funk and soul as it was performed in its heyday. For proof, check out her renowned 2005 album, Naturally. Meanwhile, 68-year-old Staples is a veteran of the music industry and a rock'n'roll hall of fame inductee whose career has spanned more than 40 years.

Womad, short for World of Music Arts and Dance, is a worldwide touring festival set up by musician Peter Gabriel in the early 80s. It was held in Auckland at various venues until it found a permanent home in New Plymouth in 2005, and following the success of the 2007 event it will be held annually. Next year's line-up brings together more than 300 performers from 14 countries including folk singer Cesaria Evora, known as the "barefoot diva", from Cape Verde off the western coast of Africa; Indian flautist Dr Natesan Ramani; and, of special interest, young American folk musician Zach Condon, the brains behind the band Beirut, which has just released its excellent second album, The Flying Club Cup.

The local guest list is headed by psychedelic roots reggae band Kora, Auckland singer/songwriter and multi instrumentlist SJD, dance company Black Grace, and psychedelic rockers Emerald City, who join other international acts the Guyto Monks from Tibet and Australia, samba rock band Clube do Balanco from Brazil, Toumani Diabate's Symmetric Orchestra from Mali, and many more.

For more information and full line up go to Tickets are available from Ticketek.