World Music Festival Chicago presents a rich African music mix

The 17th annual World Music Festival Chicago continues to bring global artists to venues across Chicago this summer as the festival takes off on the evening of 11 September. In 2015 the festival has lined up a slew of great bookings from Africa, especially Ethiopia. 

Ester Rada. Photo:
Ester Rada. Photo:

Among them is legendary singer Mahmoud Ahmed, influential and recently rediscovered keyboardist and band leader Hailu Mergia and new-breed Ethio-Israeli vocalist Ester Rada. Chicago’s festival season which always goes out in a big way each summer will be staged between 11 and 22 September. Festival goers will also hear music from Nigeria’s Orlando Julius, Niger’s Tal National, Morocco’s Aziz Sahmaoui and Mali’s Kassé Mady Diabaté.

Music lovers in the city will witness a rare Midwest appearance by Ethiopian singer Mahmoud Ahmed whose songs are rooted in tradition but also resonate with a funky, soulful groove. Mahmoud is credited with bringing Ethiopian music to the world stage.

Additionally fans will also experience Ester Rada’s powerful, soulful voice on a seductive mix of Ethiopian jazz, funk and R&B. Her Ethiopian roots are evident in her music but so is the influence of Israel where she grew up and now lives.

Nigerian Afrobeat legend Orlando Julius who plays classic afro-beat with a psychedelic twist, will lead fans into new and exciting music directions at the festival. Few artists have been more crucial to the invention, development, and popularization of Afro-pop music like Julius has been.

Julius' large bands — the Modern Aces and Afro Sounders — helped transform the popular Nigerian dance music, highlife, into the funkier afro-beat. He combined the polyrhythms he played as a young drummer in his mother's church group with what he heard on Louis Armstrong and John Coltrane albums.

One of Niger’s most popular bands, Tal National will make the West African musical elements— Congolese soukous, Nigerian highlife, Zimbabwean chimurenga familiar to the Chicago music fans. Founded 15 years ago by band leader Almeida, the band's fast-changing rhythms has propelled its recent album, "Zoy Zoy" (Fat Cat) to new fame on the musical stage.

For more information and artist line-up at the 17th World Music Festival Chicago please visit the festival’s website.



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