21 Oct 2021

Womad draws on Aotearoa talent for 2022 festival

11:37 am on 21 October 2021

Organisers of the Womad festival in Taranaki say the event next March - featuring a completely New Zealand-based line up - will be just as fantastic as any other year.

Hollie Smith

Hollie Smith is among the Kiwi acts named for Womad next year. Photo: Alex Behan

They say locally-based artists have what it takes to fill the event with the sounds, tastes and vibes from the four corners of the globe.

Covid-19 forced the plug to be pulled on this year's festival at the 11th hour.

But now acts such as LatinAotearoa are set to take centre stage at New Zealand's premier world music festival.

The band's DJ producer is Brazillian Kiwi Bobby Brazuka.

Calling in from lockdown in Auckland, he has no doubt New Zealand has the talent pool to pull off a Womad.

"With the selection of musicians they've picked so far it's such a good line-up. You can't go wrong with Fat Freddy's Drop and Hollie Smith and Deva Mahal. These people are incredible, you know, and they go and travel overseas and play massive festivals all over the world."

At last night's official event launch, festival director Emere Wano announced 16 new acts.

Latinaotearoa's vocalist Jennifer Zea and producer/DJ Bobby Brazuka.

Latinaotearoa's vocalist Jennifer Zea and producer/DJ Bobby Brazuka. Photo: Supplied

She said the decision to cancel Womad 2021 laid the foundations for what she promised would be a stunning Womad 2022.

"We had already started that discovery last year. Looking at what talent we actually had in Aotearoa because we were really clear that we could only do this if the depth of talent was available here with the borders being closed."

But if you're worried Womad risks becoming another Homegrown festival have no fear.

Along with the Kiwi staples such as Salmonella Dub and Fly My Pretties, Emere Wano said there were also hidden gems, like New Zealand's very own Bulgarian vocal group - Acapollinations.

"And now is their time actually to showcase that work that they've done overseas and they may not have had that opportunity if our borders were open because we may have got a Bulgarian group, if you know what I mean."

Wano said it was also an opportunity to sign up hard to get acts who had returned from overseas such as Fat Freddy's Drop.

"Usually we can't get them so they had a cancelled tour, so they made contact and said 'hey we're keen to play' and we went 'yay, cool we'll take you'. They are the classic example, but there would have been a number of artists that would normally been offshore."

Wano was also delighted to announce the Topp Twins would be celebrating 40 years in the entertainment business at the festival.

Womad event director Emere Wano

Womad festival director Emere Wano Photo: RNZ/ Robin Martin

Chief executive of Womad NZ's organisers, the Taranaki Arts Festival Trust, Suzanne Porter answered the curly Covid-19 questions.

She said Womad was following the government's lead.

"As far as we know at this point - and we haven't got the detail yet - is that you will be required to be double vaccinated to be able to attend any large gathering and it hasn't been defined what a large gathering is, but Womad will definitely be in that category."

She was taking negative feedback on the issue in her stride.

"How I looked at it was by the happy and smiling faces and the sad, angry faces and it was about 80/20 which reflects the population's stance on vaccination I would say."

The New Plymouth District Council is underwriting this year's festival to the tune of $2 million.

Mayor Neil Holdom said it was not a safe bet - just yet.

"I'd have to say with the current Delta outbreak and the uncertainty I think we are probably 50/50 whether we may, you know, that some of that may be called on."

He was hopeful Wellington would soon offer some more clarity around large-scale events.

"I think the government realises New Zealanders need to get out and party this summer because it's been a long cold winter and we're all pretty tired."

You'd get no argument from Bobby Brazuka on that front.

"We've been through a lot these last couple of years and it would be great to see everybody down there and we have a great show, we bring great times and a great Latin experience for you with a bit of a Kiwi influence."

Womad New Zealand is scheduled to run at the TSB Bowl of Brooklands and Brooklands Park in New Plymouth between 18-22 March next year.

More performer announcements are expected in the coming months.

Musical Artists appearing at WOMAD 2022:

Acapollinations, Avantdale Bowling Club, Bobby Brazuka, Carnivorous Plant Society, Deva Mahal, Fat Freddy's Drop, Fly My Pretties, Hollie Smith, IPU Kodama Japanese Drum Team, Latinaotearoa, Lord Echo (DJ set), Mudra Dance, Niko Ne Zna, Ria Hall, Salmonella Dub, Shades of Shakti, SWÂMP THÏNG, Topp Twins, Weird Together, Yaw Asumadu & Ozi Ozaa

OMV STEAM Lab & World of Words speakers appearing at WOMAD 2022:

Dick Frizzell, Dr Siouxsie Wiles, Tom Sainsbury

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