WOMADelaide 2014 is here
WOMADelaide was officially launched this morning in a media event hosted by event director Ian Scobie, and featuring appearances by Premier Jay Weatherill, world class music-acts, and sponsors. In between speakers, Scobie praised the event’s history and ongoing influence, noting the presence of artists from 25 countries this year.
After a Welcome to Country, the event was begun by Steve Gadlabardi Goldsmith, in which the Kaurna elder welcomed local and international visitors and expressed the hope that the weekend will be a “positive experience for all”. The four representatives of the Kaurna people then performed a dance to the tune of the didgeridoo – not a local instrument, Goldsmith was quick to note, but still a resonant representation of the “sound of the earth”.
Premier Jay Weatherill, who also holds the portfolio of Minister for the Arts, spoke to the obligatory political message of job creation, but quickly moved to more aptly artistic notions – WOMADelaide “animates our city”, he observed, and is important as a “celebration of ideas”. Speaking in front of the assembled school children, he also spoke of its importance as a cultural event children can and do attend. The Premier will be attending the event with his own children over the weekend.
Emel Mathlouthi followed the Premier, playing a cover of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’ as the opening song of the festival. She followed with her song Kelmti Horra (My Word is Free), which was initially banned in her home nation of Tunisia, but became an anthem of the Arab Spring after its release in France in 2012. Despite its influence, Emel introduced this song with a great deal of modesty, expressing her incredulity that the same song that “gave them hope and gave them strength” was the “song written in my kitchen”.
A sponsored speech then took note of Internode’s contributions to WOMAD, primarily free online streaming and free WiFi across the park for the duration of the festival. To conclude, French act Cie Fracasse de 12 performed a bizarre burlesque oddity that combined percussion, dance, physical comedy and waste disposal. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this was the event that drew most of the children’s attention.
Speaking after the event, Scobie said that Emel was a “fantastic discovery”, and representative of the event’s history of combining art with “political and social change”. In the same vein, he cited other artists Arrested Development, Billy Bragg and Femi Cuti as exciting political attractions, suggesting that they, among other local and international artists, promote an “expression of common humanity” that is key to WOMADelaide’s success.
WOMADelaide runs until the 10th of March.