Globalfest: Leading the Ecosystem for World Music

Jan 13, 2016
9:18 AM


Over the last decade, Globalfest has become one of the most dynamic global music platforms in North America, growing from an acclaimed festival, encouraging networking and cultural diplomacy. Through their world music showcase, it deepens cultural understanding among its constituents, builds audiences for international music and creates new opportunities for artists leading to a more robust and sustainable ecosystem for world music in the United States. Artists that participate in its programs represent diverse musical styles from all corners of the globe, ranging from traditional to contemporary, and everything in between.

Luckily for us diversity lovers, New York’s Webster Hall becomes home to this ecosystem, as Globalfest returns for its 13th edition on Sunday, January 17, 2016. The annual showcase gives an instant entry point into the powerfully diverse, wide-ranging world of global music, from the electronic to the edgy, the beloved to the wonderfully unfamiliar.


Excited about this music festival, I sat down for a quick chat with Shanta Thake, a co-director of Globalfest, and Nicole Merritt, its general manager and producer.

Marlena Fitzpatrick: What’s the purpose of globalFest?

GF: The purpose of Globalfest is to bring the best artists from all around the world into North America in a sustainable way that allows for deep connections across cultures and background.

MF: Your mission states that the festival “creates new opportunities for artists leading to a more robust and sustainable ecosystem for world music in the United States.” Can you describe the current ecosystem and how Globalfest implements change within said ecosystem?

GF: Currently it is incredibly difficult for artists from around the world to play in North America due to the high cost of securing visas and flights and the relatively low fees that are available. We are encouraging presenters from around the country to take bigger risks based on seeing these artists under ideal circumstances at Globalfest in January and also having artists that receive national press attention they can bring to their further touring beyond Globalfest to aid in ticket sales going forward. We also have a touring fund that alumni artists can apply to offset tour losses if they can show that they are touring to at least two new markets. This ensures that the best in music from around the world does not just stay on the coasts but also finds receptive audiences in every state.

MF: Who are the Latino artists showcased this year?

GF: We are showcasing the incredible Tribu Baharu, an incredible champeta band from Colombia, and the incomparable Astrid Hadad, a cabaret performance artist from Mexico.

MF: How do you select the performers? What are the requirements to make it in Globalfest?

GF: We are looking for the best music from around the world that is based in traditional forms but often is pushing these styles in new and exciting ways, whether that is Somi fusing Nigerian sounds with jazz or Debauche combining Russian mafia songs with a gypsy punk band. We are looking for artists that represent many countries so that we have a great global mix for the night and work in a variety of settings. So we will have bands that will rock festival crowds and bands that are better suited to fully seated concert halls.

Artists of Globalfest 2016

Astrid Hadad






Lakou Mizik (NY Debut)

Mariana Sadovska

Music Maker Blues Revue

Simon Shaheen’s Zafir


Stelios Petrakis Quartet

The Dhol Foundation

Tribu Baharú


Marlena Fitzpatrick is the CEO for Latino Rebels. You can follow here @MarlenaFitz.