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World Music Festival: Chicago 2011

Creole Choir of Cuba. Photo Courtesy of World Music Festival: Chicago. Click image to view photo gallery.Chicago transforms into a global center for the best of today’s international music when the 13th annual World Music Festival: Chicago 2011 returns from Sept. 15 to Sept. 22.

The multi-venue, eight-day festival features acclaimed musicians from more than 40 countries.

Featuring traditional and contemporary music from diverse cultures, the performances and events include a combination of free and low-cost ticketed concerts, many of which are family friendly.

The festival kicks off in Grant Park’s Spirit of Music Garden as part of Chicago SummerDance, followed by seven jam-packed days of performances and events in Chicago’s clubs, neighborhood parks, cultural centers and downtown venues.

The festival culminates on Thursday, Sept. 22 with the “One World Under One Roof” finale featuring multiple concerts held throughout the Chicago Cultural Center from 6:30 pm to 11:30 pm.

For a sample of the bands and music, check out the videos below.

Boubacar Traoré

Boubacar Traoré was born in 1942, in the Kayes region of Mali. A self-taught musician, he began to compose music at an early age, influenced by American blues and kassonké, a traditional music style from the Kayes region. In the early 1960s, Mali won its independence and the people of Mali awoke each morning to the sound of Kar Kar's (his nickname) melancholic voice on the radio which sang of independence. He is widely known amidst his generation in Mali for his hits "Kar Kar Madison", "Mali Twist" and "Kayes Ba," in which he encouraged his fellow citizens to return and build the country.
PERFORMING: Wed., Sept. 21, 6:30 pm, FREE (All Ages), Millennium Park, Jay Pritzker Pavilion

Te Vaka

Te Vaka is a dynamite Polynesian-rock fusion band that has been called “the finest South Pacific roots band” and “the heart and soul of the Pacific.” Musicians and dancers from Samoa, Tokelau, Cook Islands and New Zealand Maori, under the inspiring leadership of Opetaia Foa'i, create a unique sound that combines log drums with electric guitar, Polynesian dance with drum kit and bass, for a contemporary sound infused with the ancient rhythms of the Pacific.
PERFORMING: Wed, Sept. 21, 8:30 pm, $5 Suggested Donation (All Ages), Old Town School of Folk Music


Nawal is a native of the Comoros Islands in the Indian Ocean off the eastern Coast of Africa. Her music weaves a rich dialogue of cultures. She sings in Comoran, Arabic, French and English, and showcases the musical traditions of the Indo-Arabian-Persian Bantu poly-phonies, and the syncopated rhythms and Sufi trance of the Indian Ocean. As a Muslim-born African woman who does not always adhere to traditional socio-religious codes, Nawal has faced many challenges in her career, yet she remains strong in her message and philosophy. Descending from the grand Sufi marabout of Comoros, El-Maarouf (1852-1904), Nawal invariably stays with the light of Islam founded upon love, respect and peace. In her music, she sings in favor of all humans, for education and for union.
PERFORMING: Sept. 21, 2011, 6:30 pm, Jay Pritzker Pavilion, FREE  (All Ages), Millennium Park and Sept. 22, 9:00 pm One World Under One Roof, Claudia Cassidy Theater, FREE (All Ages), Chicago Cultural Center



Frigg, a seven-piece Finnish-Norwegian band, produces fresh Scandinavian folk fiddling. They represent a mixture of Kaustinen (Finland) and Nord-Trondelag (Norway) traditions, combined with a taste of Americana and Irish Folk music. Named for the Norse goddess of love and fertility, the band has received numerous accolades for musicianship and performance.
PERFORMING: Sept. 21, 2011, 5:30 pm, FREE (All Ages), Hostelling International and Sept. 21, 2011, 9:30 pm, $12 (+21), Empty Bottle

Creole Choir of Cuba


Vibrant dancing, spectacular harmonies and undiscovered music of the Caribbean performed by a vocal and percussion ensemble little known outside of Cuba, the Creole Choir of Cuba have preserved musical treasures from Haiti, Dominica and Cuba within their rich descendant Cuban communities. Referred to as “Desandann” domestically, the group is composed from the descendants of several waves of Haitian migrants who escaped slavery at the end of the 18th century, or more recently came as laborers to work Cuba’s sugar plantations. Their repertoire consists of a wide range of choral arrangements with percussion accompaniment including Choucoune (a Haitian merengue), Gran Toumobile (a Creole Mazurka) and Doudou Moin (a Martinique merengue).
PERFORMING: Wednesday, Sept. 21, 8:00 pm: $15 (All Ages), Mayne Stage and Thursday, Sept. 22, 9:45 pm, One World Under One Roof, FREE, Chicago Cultural Center

Joaquin Diaz

Joaquin Diaz's repertoire is a mixture of traditional and original tunes characterized by exhilarating syncopated merengue rhythms. A street musician since the age of 9 in Santo, Domingo, Dominican Republic, Diaz’s accordion skills have brought him audiences with Dominican Republic President Joaquin Balaguer, the PanAmerican Games, as well as audiences worldwide.
PERFORMING: Friday, Sept. 15 at 7:30 pm, FREE, Grant Park Spirit of Music Garden, part of SummerDance and Saturday, Sept. 16 at 12:00 pm, FREE, The Dock at Montrose Harbor

View the photo gallery below and visit the links for more information, including a full schedule of events for World Music Festival: Chicago 2011.