FolkWorld #76 11/2021
© Womex

Opening: Porto ReFolk Express | Live at WOMEX 21

Buzzing Again

WOMEX 21 Wraps Up A Successful 27th Edition In Porto.


Porto, Portugal
27-31 Oct 2021

Artist Video Womex @ FROG


Artist Video Tanxugueiras @ FROG

After five intense days of networking, meetings, conferences, showcases, films and re-connecting with the community, the 27th edition of WOMEX — organised by Piranha Arts and the local Portuguese partner, AMG Music— came to a grand finish on Sunday.

WOMEX took place for the first time in Porto, Portugal. This year's culturally and musically diverse event concluded with more than 2,600 registered participants (including 290 performing artists) from 102 countries, hosted more than 60 showcase artists representing 290 musicians spread across seven stages, 24 music-based documentaries from 24 countries, 110 speakers and mentors participated in the conference sessions and a bustling Trade Fair with 620 exhibiting companies at 200 stands.


Artist Video

After two years of challenges to the cultural sector, the WOMEX 21 Opening: Porto ReFolk Express at Casa da Música was buzzing, together again, with more than 1,000 guests in attendance, rich with sounds of Portuguese music from all regions and in all directions. The Opening presented a showcase of music made in Portugal, with diverse artistic voices, languages, variety; reinventing and uniting the richness, forms and instruments from Portuguese popular cultures. The Opening: Porto ReFolk Express - was curated by Mauro Rodrigues, Revolução d’Alegria. The four artists, all hailing from Portugal were Galandum Galundaina along with special guest Pauliteiros de Miranda, Retimbrar performing with special guest, Galician artist, Uxía Seiva, and Sopa de Pedra.

The evening confirmed the desire of the global music community and the global music business to come together and rebuild what has been fragmented in recent times: a strong confirmation of the need for live music on stage, the need for the power of music in uniting diverse cultures and people most peacefully and naturally where growing nationalism, racism and intolerance around the World is on the rise.

António Miguel Guimarães, managing director, AMG Music, the local partners for WOMEX 21, shared: "In a period in the history of the World where exacerbated nationalism is re-appearing, as well as racism and intolerance, amplified by powerful communication networks, such as some social networks, the respect for diversity is fundamental and few will promote it as well as Music, and the WOMEX project, in particular."

On hosting WOMEX in Porto this year, Ângela Ferreira, Secretary of State of Culture, Porto, Portugal shared: "In a time when Creative and Cultural Industries are centre-stage on European policies when we see programmes like Creative Europe having their budget doubled down for the next six years...I challenge all the art workers and agents present here to get to know each other, build partnerships and collaborative networks - because we need more of the unique role that culture plays in the World, of promoting a better understanding and a deeper empathy amongst all countries and regions."

The Award ceremony took place in Theatre Rivoli in Porto with a colourful honouring of the achievements of the two award recipients and celebrating the independent recording world with the top 20 Labels of the Year presentation. The WOMEX 21 Professional Excellence Award was received by Lisa Whytock on behalf of the Global Music Match; and Aynur received the WOMEX Artist Award recipient who also gave a mesmerising performance to an enthusiastic audience.

The participation of music professionals who came down to Porto from around the World despite the challenges posed by the ongoing pandemic confirmed the global music community's need and desire for live music on stage and reconnecting and networking with each other in person. Each year WOMEX and its community have been steadily growing in all demographics, and this year has been exceptionally well received and well attended by audiences and professionals from the Lusophone regions.

And The WOMEX 21 Award Recipients Are...

As with every year, the WOMEX Awards celebrates and honours exceptional achievements in global music on the international level; musical excellence, social importance, commercial success, political impact, lifetime achievement – any or all of these might make one a worthy recipient. Since 1999, the impressive list of Award recipients continues to grow, and with the 2021 edition, we are proud to add two more extraordinary recipients for the Artist and the Professional Excellence Award.

Galandum Galundaina

Artist Video Galandum Galundaina @ FROG

WOMEX 21 Artist Award: Aynur

It is for her long-term dedication to the preservation and innovation of Kurdish and Alevi culture, for maintaining the highest artistic integrity in the face of political pressure and, in doing so, for being a model for all that sing against the silencers, that Aynur Doğan is a very worthy recipient of the WOMEX 21 Artist Award.


Artist Video Aynur @ FROG

As both a Kurd and an Alevi, Aynur Doğan’s cultural heritage has always been subject to discriminatory laws and public persecution, whether in the small mountain town of Çemişgezek where she grew up, or the metropolis of Istanbul. At its core, Aynur’s music is based on Kurdish folk songs.

On receiving the prestigious award at the 27th edition of WOMEX, Aynur Doğan shared: "Music is the key to lost cultures, the way to return to the source, to the essence. It is proof that we are different but come from the same core. Therefore, every different tone in this world is the legacy of all of us - it's like not letting a piece of earth slip away. One of the most important steps of my musical journey started with WOMEX in 2006...It is an honour for me to represent the music of 40 million people whose existence is not yet recognized and does not have a country. I am honoured to dedicate this award to all women in the world in the presence of Kurdish women who are fighting for freedom, equality and peace."

The Artist award recognises the achievements of an individual artist or a musical group and celebrates those who excel in the mastery of musical craft, who embody artistic distinction, dynamism and creativity, who use music as a medium of positive change and offer a unique and committed vision.

WOMEX 21 Professional Excellence Award: Global Music Match

The past year and a half has been one of the most drastic and challenging periods of change in the history of the international music industry. Almost at once, and with very little warning, a world’s worth of live music disappeared, and musicians and audiences alike scrambled to find new ways of reaching each other without leaving their homes. But adversity leads to innovation, and that’s where Global Music Match comes in. The heart of the premise is simple: folk- and roots-based musicians uplifting and promoting each other, mobilising each other’s audiences and creating new professional networks.

After two editions, 172 artists – and many thousands of fans – have participated and benefitted from this mutual support network and inspirational knowledge exchange with the help of music export offices from 17 countries and regions from around the world. For creating, at such short notice, a new and innovative platform that has already seen long-lasting and tangible benefits, for celebrating musical diversity, and for being a source of optimism and comfort to musicians in a time of great struggle, we are delighted that Global Music Match will receive the WOMEX 21 Professional Excellence Award.

The Professional Excellence award honours exceptional achievements of an individual, group or organisation in music. Musical excellence, cultural significance, advocacy and activism, lifetime achievement and commercial success without compromise are all elements that may determine the Award Recipient.

Aynur Artist Award Recipient | Live at WOMEX 21 Awards Ceremony

After completing a successful WOMEX in Porto this year, we are prolonging our stay in Portugal with our local partners of this year, AMG Music. The WOMEX 22 will take place for the first time in Lisbon. See you there. Mark your diaries: 19-23 October 2022!

Photo Credits: (1) Womex (unknown/website); (3) Tanxugueiras, (7) Uxía, (8) Bab L’ Bluz, (9) Sopa de Pedra, (13) Lina_Raül Refree, (17) Sofia Rei (by Jacob Crawfurd); (4) Galandum Galundaina, (6) Grosse Isle, (10) Maria Mazzotta, (11) Hudaki Village Band, (12) Northern Resonance (by Eric van Nieuwland); (2) Ayom, (5) Aynur, (14) Lucas Santtana, (15) Brighde Chaimbeul, (16) O Gajo, (by Yannis Psathas).

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