If you’ve ever been to Wavelengths World Music Pre-Conference, you know that it’s a warm, friendly gathering of the global music community from all sides of the industry: artists, agents, managers, presenters, press, and more. Wavelengths 2019 brought together a cross-section of the community that was diverse in age, background, and approaches to music. This atmosphere facilitated open, wide-ranging discussions on some of the most pressing issues we face. Every session had standout moments of insight, connection, or useful info on how to up your game in this business. Did you miss out? Video of each session is available to watch at globalFEST’s Facebook page! Take a look at the schedule for a taste of what went down.
Five Minute Music Discovery sessions were a new addition to the schedule this year, offering a welcome musical break between panels. Standing up in front of your peers (and your idols) to give a five-minute, all-acoustic taste of your art takes a lot of guts. Each of the artists knocked it out of the park with courageous, immediate performances. Riva Precil showed how she spreads love and light through song while uplifting Haitian culture. Taj Weekes, frontman of the dynamic pan-Caribbean reggae band Adowa, gave us a sample of his creative, poetic songwriting. Afropop queen Jemiriye showcased her singing rooted in traditional sounds of Nigeria and dedicated to promoting women’s rights—totally a capella, filling the room with her voice. Falsa, a 14th century Sufi chamber fusion ensemble, brought a meditative interlude in a busy day. Juan Carmona’s flamenco guitar sizzled with equal parts tradition and innovation. Samer Ali, a master of the Arabic violin, provided a brief, intriguing glimpse into the Syrian Music Preservation Initiative he leads.
A deeply moving keynote address from First Nations musician, educator, and activist ShoShona Kish brought some in the audience to tears. With her family, ShoShona highlighted the role of stories in her lineage. In Anishinaabe tradition, stories were an essential part of creation, and the creator gave stories to people throughout the world to sustain it. ShoShona urged everyone in the audience to respond to the dark times we find ourselves in by bringing together storytellers and using story to bring the light back and support the ongoing creation of the world.
Sessions at Wavelengths 2019 covered some complex topics affecting global music artists— from the rise of Latinx as a genre label to lingering colonial power dynamics. “The emotional immediacy of many of the panels set Wavelengths apart from the usual conference fare and says a lot about the community we’ve worked hard to build for over a decade,” remarks Tristra Newyear Yeager, Wavelengths co-organizer and veteran rps writer and strategist, “We are willing to have hard conversations and eager to celebrate the ideas and sounds of our wide range of heritages, generations, and musical styles. I look out on our audience and always think, ‘This is the kind of world I want to live in.’”
Rps CEO and Wavelengths founder Dmitri Vietze agrees: "When we first got involved in creating free programming for the global music community at APAP, we pushed to have a diversity of practical topics that attendees could apply in their own work. Now the Wavelengths community has grown and come into its own, defining the topics they want to see at our annual gathering. It's a beautiful thing!" Plan to attend Wavelengths 2020 to add your voice.