We’re really proud that Liverpool’s had a fantastic selection of world music pass through its venues over the past few years. Thanks to Africa Oyé, Arabic Arts Festival and the Philharmonic’s excellent programming, the city’s been spoiled for choice when it comes to musical treats from far flung places.
This weekend is the annual Africa Oyé event: a huge celebration of African music in Sefton Park; a festival that gets increasingly bigger and better year by year. It’s now free again (but relying on donations – make sure to fill up their buckets on the day) and, although all the artists playing are worth watching, we’ve hand picked a few of our personal favourites to watch out for.
Kingston born ‘Queen of Reggae’ Griffiths (main image) has had a long and fruitful career: lending her voice to some of the genre’s most wonderful records, she’s still playing festivals across the globe to huge, appreciative audiences. The fact we get to witness her for free is a total privilege.
Mariem’s take on Western Saharan blues is raw, beautiful and euphoric. Any fans of Tinariwen – now a permanent fixture at festivals across the world – will not want to miss this, a rare UK appearance by one of the most exciting desert blues singers ever.
Sierra Leone Refugee All Stars
Once the subject of their own documentary film, the Refugee All Stars met in Guinea and have since played critically acclaimed shows across the world. But it’s not just their backstory that’s extraordinary, so is the music: a joyful, intense swing that’s perfect for a sunny Sunday.
Slightly less traditional than the other acts on the bill but no less thrilling, Malawian rapper Amkoullel raps in both his native languages: French and Bambara. And though we can’t really understand what he’s rapping about (we got a C in our GCSE French, alright?), his talent for rhythm and flow transcend any language barrier. Socially conscious – he opened up his own school – and a huge star in his home country, we can’t wait to see what he’s like live.
Africa Oyé, 18th & 19th June
Sefton Park, Liverpool
12:30pm – 9pm, Free