Every January, we look forward to globalFEST, a one-night showcase of newly emerging and well-established artists from around the world. This annual event, held at Manhattan’s Webster Hall, is where industry insiders and cool-hunters alike ferret out the next big global music acts on the touring circuit — the buzzed-about bands playing on this single winter night form the vanguard of what you’re going to be watching at festivals and at venues across the country over the next couple of years.
This year’s globalFEST roster tipped towards splashy and conceptual sets from artists like SsingSsing, who melds glam-rock aesthetics with Korean folk songs, and Jojo Abot, a singer from Ghana who channels Grace Jones. But there were also big dance bands, like Cuba’s watertight Septeto Santiaguero, and the Orchestre Afrisa International, masters of the Congolese rumba. And “global music” doesn’t just mean sounds from abroad: This year’s lineup included several regional American artists and some hyphenate Americans, like the Sudanese-born singer (and Tiny Desk Concert alumna) Alsarah.
Joining All Songs Considered host Bob Boilen for this week’s podcast are NPR Music’s own Anastasia Tsioulcas, NPR contributor and Afropop Worldwide senior editor Banning Eyre and Rob Weisberg of WQXR, who also hosts WFMU’s Transpacific Sound Paradise.