Hollie Smith, Afrobeat star join Womad

SINGING STAR: Hollie Smith.
SINGING STAR: Hollie Smith.

New Zealand soul siren Hollie Smith will now play at Womad after wowing the festival director.

Multi-award winning Smith is one of two artists added to the bulging lineup for Womad New Zealand.

Next March, Smith - famous for Bathe In the River - and Nigerian afrobeat star Femi Kuti will join 31 artists from across the world.

AFROBEAT STAR: Femi Kuti.
AFROBEAT STAR: Femi Kuti.

The songstress was not in the original lineup but festival director Drew James was blown away by her when he watched her onstage in Melbourne three weeks ago.

She was performing at the Australian World Music Expo and she had the audience in the palm of her hand, he said.

"She delivered a very, very impressive set and I was just captivated by her energy on stage.

"I was inspired to try and secure her for Womad," he said.

The contract to get her to the TSB Bowl of Brooklands was signed this week and Smith will now complete a strong offering of New Zealand talent.

Smith, who performed at the Taranaki International Arts Festival in 2007, is one of nine New Zealand acts, including Tim Finn and headliner, Kimbra.

Alongside the national talent are artists from across the globe, including newly added Nigerian musician, Femi Kuti.

Joined by his 17-piece band, The Positive Force, he will return to the festival to showcase his political funk-for-the-people sound.

Femi Kuti is the son of afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti, who died in 1997.

Mr James said Femi Kuti was carrying on the mantle of his father's music.

"He has a big sound, and there is a great dance-feel to his music. It's fresh and he'll be enjoyed by the crowds," he said.

The maximum crowd is 12,000 a day and Mr James said tickets were selling well.

The Friday night tickets were in hot demand as it was the only night Kimbra would be playing, he said.

"But every artist will be worth seeing, and these two new artists really add more diversity to the lineup."

Womad New Zealand is on at the TSB Bowl of Brooklands from March 14-16, 2014. Tickets are available from www.womad.co.nz.

Taranaki Daily News