In the midst of global tragedies and the push to build walls along borders, there was a place at South by Southwest Friday night that lifted voices from all around the world.
The globalFEST stage at the Palm Door on Sixth featured a night of artists ranging from the Palestinian diaspora to Brazil. This year more than 600 bands traveled to Austin from outside of the U.S.
Hawaiian artist Taimane kicked off the night by shredding the ukulele. Her mad skills which rock everything from Beethoven to Led Zeppelin as well as her original songs make for a high-energy performance that includes featured Hawaiian dancer Enromvs Muñoz.
Colombia’s La Mojarra Electrica brought the Afro-Colombian grooves to the stage with their mix of salsa, electronica and jazz. These 7-piece party masters bring powerful vocals and musicianship with instrumentation that ranges from the clarinet to the conga. La Mojarra Electrica also performed at the 10th anniversary of the Sounds from Colombia showcase at SXSW.
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Pumping up the crowd with electric Arabic Dabke music was 47soul, a band formed in Jordan whose music reflects the members’ Palestinian heritage. Their growing following has embraced the group’s mix of modern and traditional sounds that weave both Arabic and English lyrics. The quartet incorporates a traditional dance style often done at weddings known as dabke, which inspired some fans to lock hands and form a dance circle during the show.
Bringing the hip-hop and R&B to the globalFEST stage was Brazilian MC Karol Conka, whose pessimism-squashing songs have blazed a trail for black, female Brazilian rappers and singers. She strutted on stage with a bright yellow and black emoji coat and multicolored jumpsuit that matched her charismatic and bold stage presence. And when her music cut out at the beginning of her set, she didn’t let it shake her. “Come on, not at my first SXSW,” she said with a laugh to the cheering crowd.
Conka performed what she said was her favorite song, her latest single “Saudade,” a romantic ballad that, while a departure from her rhymes, showcases her singing chops. Catch Karol Conka again at midnight Saturday at Lucille on Rainey Street.