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GlobalFEST 2011 Showcases 13 Innovative Artists

The country’s biggest “world music” festival takes place this Sunday in New York City. Now in its eighth year, GlobalFEST will present thirteen artists on three stages this year, representing diverse music styles from around the globe.

The event is open to the public, but the real audience is the bookers of major performing arts institutions, who are in town for their annual trade conference, called the Association of Performing Arts Presenters or APAP. It’s not uncommon for artists appearing at GlobalFEST to land lucrative touring contracts after their appearances. The festival was designed as a way to expose performing arts presenters to global music that they wouldn’t ordinarily get a chance to hear live. The fado artist Mariza, for example, found herself onstage at Carnegie Hall after impressing audiences at the festival.

Producer Bill Bragin, who books for Lincoln Center’s “Out Of Doors,” admits that it usually takes some time for GlobalFEST 2011 artists to be seen at such esteemed venues. “People who are booking performing arts centers are booking for two or three years down the line,” said Bragin  a few days before this year's festival kicked off. “So in many cases, sometimes the seeds that we plant this year will really start to take root over the next few years.”

Here are a few GlobalFEST 2011 artists that WNYC is excited about:

Orquestra Contemporânea de Olinda Foreign audiences may think they have a grasp on Brazilian music – bossa nova, samba, maybe even forró. But few are acquainted with the many sounds of Pernambuco, a state in Brazil’s Northeast, home to the colonial city of Olinda, located outside Recife. The 10-piece “Contemporary Orchestra of Olinda,” despite the somewhat pretentious name, is a straight-ahead party band that condenses those sounds (mangue, frevo, maracatu) into music that sounds both fresh and classic, danceable and psychedelic, all at once.

Chamber Music: Ballaké Sissoko & Vincent Ségal Ballake Sissoko of Mali is generally regarded as the second best kora player in the world (after Toumani Diabate). Vincent Ségal is the cellist in the French trip-hop group Bumcello. In 2010, they made an album of instrumental duets together that are surprising and beautiful. Sissoke and Ségal trade off taking the lead, each displaying impressive chops on their respective instruments, and more impressively, great communication with each other. It’s World Music 1.0, no doubt about it, but not much cheese to be found here, just great music.

Novalima The infectious, off-kilter 6/4 grooves of Afro-Peruvian music first came to American ears in 2000 on David Byrne’s compilation The Soul of Black Peru. Since then, a number of singers who specialize in the traditional coastal music of the Andean nation have toured widely–including Eva Ayllon and Susana Baca. In 2006, a collective of Peruvian musicians and DJs titled Novalima began to switch things up with their album Afro, mixing classic songs with modern beats. The result is something akin to what Gotan Project did for tango. There are pretty guitars, box drums, and vibrating voices in the music, but also a four-on-the-floor club beat.

La 33 Salsa may have been invented in New York by Puerto Rican musicians playing Cuban music. But these days, it’s all about Colombia. La 33 come from Bogota and they make outrageously funky salsa that really swings. They may be relatively new on the scene–their first album was released in 2004—but already La 33 has become one of the biggest names around in old-school salsa dura. Besides, they achieved the impossible: a Pink Panther Theme cover is that is surprisingly cool.

RAM RAM is the band run by Richard Morse, the Haitian-American musician, writer, and hotel owner who provided some of the first reports of last year’s earthquake via Twitter feed. Morse, son of a famous Haitian singer, grew up in Connecticut and has a Princeton education, but moved to Haiti to get deeper into the spiritually and music behind vodu. His band plays weekly at his Hotel Oloffson and these days in the tent cities that have sprung up since the earthquake. The music is derived from ceremonial rhythms found in Haiti, with a strong flavor of '80s New Wave mixed in.

Red Baraat Previously featured in WNYC’s “No Cover” series, Red Baraat is an NYC-based, bhangra-funk band that makes music played on blasting brass instruments and booming dhol, the two-headed drum on display in all of your favorite Bollywood music videos. Red Baraat's recorded music is tasty, but live is how they’re meant to be heard: loud as can be, with nary an amplifier in sight.

GlobalFEST will take place at Webster Hall (125 E 11th St) on Sunday, January 9. Tickets are $40. For a more information and a complete line-up of artists performing this year, visit