WorldFest 09 hailed a success

The WorldFest Festival has been hailed a great success by Festival organisers and audiences.

WorldFest is organised by Tees Valley Arts in partnership with African Arts Association and Middlesbrough and Stockton Councils and celebrates diversity in the Tees Valley and showcases world class talent.

Rowena Sommerville, Director of Tees Valley Arts commented, “we had lots of great feedback and positive comments and everyone agreed that it has been a Fantastic event with great music, well presented, interesting mix of people and great fun”

WorldFest 09

The starter was the Youth Event on Tuesday 19th May in Middlesbrough Town Hall Crypt, where we were entertained by a drumming group led by Maurice Dezou; a dance group which had been working with local Break dance specialist Michael Sogbetun; a drama group which had been working with Scott Young at Arc and which retold the birth of the world; the very talented young rapper Flava; and the excellent and original band The Main Exchange. There was also a display of artworks by young people who had been working with Adrian Moule and Gassan Mohammed. We had a really good audience with a lovely mix of young people, supporters and parents.

Next up was Soul MaP (soul music and poetry) on the Thursday at the Hub in Teesside University, where a select gathering was treated to music from Robert Maseko and Otis; poetry and music from Bob Beagrie and Andy Willoughby + Milo Thelwall and Kev Howard; acappella harmonies from Henwen; African soul music from O’nel Mala + a variety of musicians from very diverse backgrounds; and lilting easy soul from Delsena and Shimmer – a very (world) cultured night.

Then on Friday we had the Nuit d’Afrique at Arc, Stockton, where a large and lively crowd was shocked into action by the 100 drum salute led by Maurice and Alphonse of Drum Planet. This was really something to see and hear and worked really well to engage and relax the audience – carnival style fun! This was followed by Rafiki Jazz – an astonishing line up of musicians and singers from all sorts of traditions making top quality world fusion music; one of their number was Juldeh Camara on an instrument called the Riti who had received a 4 star review in the Guardian only that week. Then O’nel and the band performed again – what a lovely voice; and we ended the night dancing to Kasai Masai with a surprise visit from Kanda Bongo Man, and didn’t finish till midnight. I made the mistake of wearing new shoes – you live and learn.

On Saturday of course was the Gala Night in Middlesbrough Town Hall, again kicked off with the 100 drum salute, making a great festive atmosphere. Reggae legends Aswad played first, followed by Horace Andy and the Dub Asante Band. I was the MC and I said on stage it was an honour and a privilege to welcome those bands to Middlesbrough and I truly believe it was – this is music I’ve been listening to for years and which has contributed to my life, so how wonderful to meet the originators. Many people commented on not only the fabulous music, but also the great atmosphere, the very diverse audience, and how good the big hall looked with the screen and the new lighting etc. It was grand to be there.

Then we headed downstairs to the Crypt for Soznak – a funky brass line up – and Beta Simon and his band, who played for us at WorldFest 08 and whom we were delighted to be able to invite back – they had made a lot of friends during their first visit. We carried on till 2am with a good number of people wanting more but there is a limit! (Though I did wear comfy sandals this time.)

As I write this we still have the community event on Saturday June 6th at Middlesbrough International Community Centre at 2.30pm to look forward to – showcasing performances and artworks by the young people again, and featuring our very own Tees Valley World Drummers and Salam UK – a band made up of musicians from Egypt, Iraq, probably some other countries, and Staithes! This event is free and all are very welcome.

Then one last blast – WorldFest 09 is sponsoring Zion – a Bob Marley tribute band, to perform at Middlesbrough Music Live on June 7th – check it out!

TVA and African Arts association would like to thank everyone who has helped, everyone who has come along and enjoyed events, everyone who has encouraged us, and everyone who wants to see WorldFest continue and grow. We can’t do it without you, and there wouldn’t be any point to it!

Please see for more fabulous pictures and to see all our sponsors, funders and supporters.