Known mostly as a mining town until about two decades ago, the city of Katowice, Poland has recently transformed itself into a music capital with world-class facilities. For five days at the end of October, the city hosted the 23rd edition of WOMEX — World Music Expo — a mostly music-industry showcase held in a different European city every year.
Held in Poland for the first time, WOMEX 2017 convened 2,600 delegates from over 90 countries who represent a wide variety of perspectives on the industry — press, agents, tour managers, record labels, artists — to attend panels, networking sessions and meetings. Most of all, there are hundreds of performances representing the latest in the global music scene. It’s an inspiring and uplifting (albeit exhausting) five days in which music explorers from all corners of the planet come together to experience over 300 artists in daytime-to-dawn concerts on seven stages.
The musical offerings range from superbly traditional to supremely cutting-edge. For those of us who focus on the Latinx side of music, it is a priceless opportunity to hear the multi-flavored sounds from our diaspora, nuanced by the many places our gente have gone.
Here are six of our favorite musical moments at WOMEX 2017 from artists with Latinx roots. Some we discovered for the first time; others we discovered reasons to love anew. To paraphrase Marcel Proust, the real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes. In the case of WOMEX, the journey is all about having new ears.