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Friday, 26 July, 2002, 17:15 GMT 18:15 UK
Womad celebrates 20th anniversary
Peter Gabriel
Peter Gabriel started the festival in 1982
Artists from around the world are coming together for the 20th anniversary Womad festival in the UK.

More than 30 countries are represented at the three-day event in Reading, Berkshire, which starts on Friday.

The festival is a celebration of music styles ranging from Latin, gospel, sitar, salsa and folk.

Womad, which stands for World of Music, Arts and Dance, was co-created by former Genesis star Peter Gabriel in 1982.

It has gone on to see more than 100 music events hosted in 21 countries.

But the event nearly ended after the first year after it turned into a financial disaster, despite hosting artists such as Don Cherry and Simple Minds.

Badenya Les Frères Coulibaly
The festival brings together many cultures
Gabriel refused to allow his dream to die and rejoined Genesis for a one-off benefit concert to recoup costs.

The festival has grown in strength and world music is now very much in vogue, as artists such as South Africa's Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Senegal's Youssou N'Dour score chart hits.

The recent number one hit from Holly Valance, Kiss Kiss, was based on a Turkish song.

"The festivals have allowed many different audiences to gain insight into cultures other than their own through the enjoyment of music," said Gabriel.

"Music is a universal language, it draws people together and proves, as well as anything, the stupidity of racism," he added.

Although it started in the UK, the festival travels each year to Australia, North America, South Africa, Japan and several European countries.

Must-see

The festival's artistic director, Thomas Brooman, who started the festival with Gabriel, has his own tips for people unfamiliar with the artists.

African reggae star Alpha Blondy, Algerian-born Rachid Taha and Latin funk band Ozomatli are among his "must see" acts.

"It's going to be a great line-up this year, it should be really special," he said.

Other artists include India's Anoushka Shanker, daughter of the legendary sitar player Ravi Shanker, and South African gospel singer Rebecca Malope.

Echo and the Bunnymen, Squeeze's Chris Gifford and Trilok Gurtu of India are also highlights over the weekend.

Womad also encourages audience participation with workshops where people can learn to dance and sing.

See also:

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30 Jul 01 | Music
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