A flamboyant, funky rapper with soul in the vein of Outkast’s André 3000, it’s a fair bet that Baloji will be the best dressed man at Womad this year. His kaleidoscopic style takes in many influences, and his videos include fabulous costumes inspired by traditional Congolese pygmy weddings, ’70s TV and his own synaesthesia. Musically, Baloji (whose name can be translated as “sorcerer”) and his five-piece band tease out traditional rhythms and iconic Congolese guitar into extended jams, while the French lyrics explore serious social concerns.
Saturday March 9, 6pm, Foundation Stage
Monday March 11, 4pm, Stage 2
Christine & The Queens
Drawing on Prince’s gender fluidity, Madonna’s unapologetic swagger, Robyn’s sleek pop and the sass of Janet Jackson, French singer Héloïse Letissier takes her cues from some of the biggest musical icons of the last few decades. Performing as Chris, a “horny, hungry and ambitious” woman, Letissier’s pansexual French synth-pop tackles issues of gender, sexuality and identity. The resulting music is empowering, sweaty and very, very now.
Friday March 8, 10.20pm, Foundation Stage
Papua New Guinean-born Kaiit’s lush neo-soul is the perfect soundtrack to a blissful afternoon in Botanic Park. Sprawl beneath the Moreton Bay figs and let her seduce you with smooth vocals and raps over mellow, jazzy tunes. It’s a recipe that’s earned the singer a fan in Jill Scott, who described the 20-year-old as her and Erykah Badu’s “Down Under love child”.
Friday March 8, 9pm, Novatech Stage
Central Australian Aboriginal Women’s Choir
Described as “Australia’s answer to the Buena Vista Social Club”, the Central Australian Aboriginal Women’s Choir brings together 35 singers from six remote Indigenous communities. As documented in the 2018 doco The Song Keepers, the women sing hymns brought by German Lutheran missionaries to the Central Desert more than 100 years ago. The sacred songs have been translated into Arrernte and Pitjantjatjara, and the moving performance is a testament to the vibrant, changing culture of Australia’s Indigenous peoples.
Friday March 8, 7pm, Stage 2
Sunday March 9, 1pm, Foundation Stage
Monday March 11, 3pm, Zoo Stage
Maria Pagés is one of the world’s greatest living flamenco practitioners, and this is the work she’s wanted to make her whole life. The dancer and choreographer takes the story of Carmen, a popular 19th-century opera set in her hometown of Seville, and moves it beyond the male gaze. Alongside live musicians, Pagés and her ensemble use dance, poetry and song to pivot Carmen from a story of toxic masculinity to a universal celebration of womanhood.
Friday March 8, 9pm, Stage 2
Saturday March 9, 9.30pm, Stage 2
Talking Heads weren’t shy about being influenced by West African polyrhythms, and now legendary singer Angelique Kidjo is bringing their music full circle. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to see the funky West African diva reimagining the band’s classic album Remain in Light in full.
Saturday March 9, 4pm, Frome Park Pavilion
Sunday March 10, 9pm, Foundation Stage