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Welsh artists announced for WOMEX 2024

09 Jul 2024 6 minute read
Cerys Hafana (Image: Heledd Wyn) & N’famady Kouyate

Two celebrated Welsh artists representing Wales at this year’s highly anticipated WOMEX have been announced today.

Wales Arts International, Tŷ Cerdd and Manchester Music City, the hosts of this year’s WOMEX (Worldwide Music Expo) in Manchester, have revealed that the artists selected to represent Wales on the Horizons stage at WOMEX later this year will be Cerys Hafana and N’famady Kouyaté. 

Established at WOMEX Cardiff in 2013, Wales Arts International played an instrumental role in creating HORIZONS – a partnership celebrating  the diverse music that comes from Wales, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and England to help artists gain international recognition on the world stage.

N’famady Kouyate

Alongside the artists from Wales, Amy Laurenson and Gnoss are the artists representing Scotland; Balimaya Project and Gwenifer Raymond representing England; Strange Boy for the Republic of Ireland, Córas Trio for Northern Ireland and Rioghnach Connolly & Honeyfeet representing the host city Manchester.

Welsh history and innovation

Cerys Hafana, a composer and multi-instrumentalist from Machynlleth, is known for transforming traditional music by exploring the creative possibilities of the triple harp and incorporating found sounds, archival materials, and electronic processing.

Her second album, “Edyf,” released in 2022, was named one of The Guardian’s Top Ten folk albums and featured on Cerys Matthews’ BBC 6 Music ‘Highlights of 2022’ show.

“Edyf” blends fragments of Psalm tunes, hymns, and philosophical musings from the Welsh National Library’s online archive with original compositions, featuring the Welsh triple harp, bodhrán, double bass, althorn, and electronically processed sounds.

Her latest EP, “The Bitter,” released in January this year, has garnered critical acclaim. TradFolk praised it, remarking, “The genius of this EP lies in the thoughtful reinterpretations of timeless songs that have been played a thousand times.”

With a busy year ahead, she will also appear in festivals throught the summer including  WOMAD, Green Man and End Of The Road, before appearing at WOMEX in October. 

Cerys Hafana said: “I’ve been aware of WOMEX’s significance in the folk and world music scene for most of my musical life so it’s very exciting to be playing there for the first time this year.

“I can’t wait to bring the Welsh triple harp to this international stage, especially in Manchester, a city very close to my heart, and would like to thank Wales Arst International and the Horizons project for their support.”

Cerys Hafana. Credit: Heledd Wyn

Joining Cerys, and fresh from this year’s Glastonbury festival will be N’famady Kouyaté, a dynamic musician from Guinea (Conakry) who relocated to Cardiff in 2019.

He captivated audiences across the UK and Ireland with his modern interpretations of traditional West African Mandingue songs while supporting Gruff Rhys on tour.

Primarily playing the balafon, N’famady’s performances fuse African Mandingue rhythms with Western jazz, pop, indie, and funk, involving a diverse array of instruments and musicians.

His first EP, released in July 2021, recorded at Rockfield Studios, features collaborations with notable artists and blends Guinean songs with Welsh lyrics. Despite COVID-19 restrictions, N’famady maintained an active online presence and performed at various festivals, culminating in a successful UK tour in late 2022, supported by the PRS Foundation’s Momentum grant, solidifying his growing fanbase in the UK and West Africa.

In 2023, he won the Emerging Talent competition at Glastonbury festival and performed there again this month. He performs in multiple langauges including Welsh, Mandinka & Susu. 

N’famady Kouyaté said: “I’m so excited to have been offered a showcase at WOMEX this year. I can’t wait to bring my band to help celebrate 30 years of a fantastic event that supports a vibrant and inclusive musical community.”

Global relationships

Ahead of the event in October, Head of Wales Arts International, Eluned Haf said: “I am delighted that Cerys and N’Famady will be representing Wales at WOMEX this year.

“Cerys Hafana with her Welsh triple harp and N’Famady Kuyote with the Balafon performing on the Horizons stage is a testiment to the rich wealth of talent and culture Wales has to offer the world.

“Eleven years since we hosted WOMEX in Cardiff, much has changed. Welsh musicians have built global relationships and Wales has become instrumental in promoting indigenous music and culture.”

The Horizons partnership is supported by Wales Arts International, Arts Council of Wales,  Culture Ireland, Arts Council of England, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, The National Lottery through Creative Scotland, British Council, and British Underground. As well as showcasing their music, artists also have access to advice, funding, and assistance at the event. 

WOMEX Cardiff 2013

Eluned Haf added: “The Horizons partnership we created for WOMEX in Cardiff in 2013 is going from strength to strength.

“By working together, our nations’ musicians and companies learn from each other and create pathways and more opportunities to reach promoters and organizers of concerts and festivals.”

WOMEX 24

WOMEX 24 will take place in Manchester between 23-27 October, with 2,600 of the world’s music industry professionals from 90 different countries expected to attend.

The five-day event is being produced by Manchester Music City partner, English Folk Expo. Manchester Central will host the main daytime conference and trade fair, with live music showcases, club nights, and films at Albert Hall, Aviva Studios, Manchester Central, O2 Ritz, and HOME.

The second wave of official showcase artists has also been revealed with 33 amazing acts from 35 countries lined up to entertain audiences and showcase incredible talent. The programme has been shaped by an independent jury of music industry professionals from across the globe.

The initial wave of public tickets for the WOMEX showcases are now on-sale through the WOMEX website.

Wales Arts International is also working with partners in Wales including Tŷ Cerdd and Trac to deliver an artist development programme.

An announcement will follow soon on those artists and music industry contacts that have been awarded bursaries to attend WOMEX in Manchester as delegates this year.  


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