WorldFest 2021 celebrates cultures through music


Photo Courtesy of Spurlock Museum of World Cultures Facebook

Bourema “Ibrahim” Ouedraogo and Jason Finkelman pose for a photo for WorldFest 2021. The pair performed June 16 and was the first of three performances for this year’s event. The other performances will be released June 23 and June 30 on Facebook.

By Raina Kutliroff, Staff Writer

For the 15th annual year, Spurlock Museum hosts WorldFest, though this year, the celebration will look a bit different. WorldFest aims to combine the two beliefs of Spurlock – their love of performing arts and passion for celebrating culturally diverse music – into one magical musical event.

WorldFest typically involves in-person celebrations and crowds of the C-U community coming together at the music festival. This year, Spurlock decided to make their event virtual. The virtual festivities will take place on Facebook, with the release of three different videos from a variety of worldly and culturally diverse musicians, to be seen by the public via the event’s Facebook page, the museum’s website and its YouTube page.

The first video that was already released and is available to the public is a performance by Bourema “Ibraham” Ouedraogo and Jason Finkelman.

Ouedraogo, the guitarist and lead vocalist, explained to the audience how happy he is to perform and play music again, and he said he is grateful for recently receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. He currently lives in Urbana with his family, but he grew up in West Africa and identifies strongly with his African culture. Ouedraogo comes from a very musically talented family.

“When I go back home, it always feels good to sit with him, play some songs and bring memories and play together,” he said when talking about his close relationship with his father, who is also a musician. Ouedraogo opens his performance by singing a love song he wrote, singing in Moore languages, languages from Burkina Faso and West Africa.

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Jason Finkelman accompanies Ibraham on the next song, playing a unique drum over Ibraham’s vocals, a French song that quickly transitions into another song sung in Moore languages. Finkelman is the current director of Global Arts Performance Initiatives at the Krannert Center for Performing Arts.

Throughout the entertaining performance, Finkelman plays many different unique instruments. He pauses mid-video to educate viewers on the instruments, where they’re from and their significance. Finkelman talks viewers through a kalimba, or thumb piano, that comes from Zimbabwe. Finkelman also plays an instrument that his African teacher made out of a cookie tin and other recycled materials, similarly looking to a tambourine.

The next video will be released on June 23 and will feature the musical group Qwanqwa that will perform a combination of songs and dances from Ethiopia. The people in Qwanqwa will be singing using the Azmari singing style, which is an ethnic subgroup of the northern Ethiopian Amhara people, also known as “the keepers of musical traditions, similar to Griots or Troubadours,” according to their bio.

The last video, set to be released to the public on June 30, will be performed by Cody Jensen, a musician from Urbana who will be performing music from the early 20th century on instruments from around the world, such as the banjo, balafon, xylophone, rhythm bones, hanging jug, steel pan and harpejji.

The music and special events team at Spurlock worked hard to put together a WorldFest they knew would entertain and educate viewers about some of the music that is being performed around the world. WorldFest 2021 showcases the performers’ wonderful and diverse talents while also educating listeners about the importance of music around the world.

To watch WorldFest 2021 and learn more about the event, visit the event Facebook page.

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