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Viljandi Folk Music Festival announced first foreign artists

Two first foreign performers of XXXI Viljandi Folk Music Festival promise a lively party. The confirmed artists are Ghanaian songstress Florence Adooni with her captivating rhythm group and John André Eira with his band Gabba, who bring traditional Sami yoik to the contemporary world.
It is difficult to stand still when Florence Adooni connects history and modern times with her contagious dance music. The Ghanaian singer is part of her homeland’s thriving Frafra Gospel scene, which was made to be sung standing at a crowded Sunday service, while backed by vigorous clapping. “The queen of Frafra Gospel” mixes that gripping expression with another of Ghana’s strongest and proudest musical traditions: a melodic and rhythmic pulsating highlife, where local Ghanaian traditions fuse with inspiration from pop, rock and jazz, including lots of festive horns.

Ando Kiviberg, the head of Viljandi Folk Music Festival, went to Florence Adooni’s concert this year in October at Womex, the most important folk and world music showcase festival in the world. “Florence Adooni and her band performed at one of the main stages and their performance captivated the audience immediately. Their insane energy, rhythmic and lively stage presence and music built strongly on their own tradition was utterly fascinating and put the audience in a really good mood. The songs were accompanied by spontaneous dances and absolutely charming communication between the musicians, which impressed even an experienced organizer like myself. I am genuinely happy that they will come to Viljandi at the end of July 2024,” Kiviberg said.

The other confirmed artist takes the audience to a thrilling musical journey into the heart of Sami culture.

Gabba combines traditional and modern, inviting people to explore the richness and diversity of Sami cultural heritage. The place of honor in their music is held by the extraordinary traditional Sami yoik. With the southern norwegians in his back, the yoik master John André Eira from far north in Mazé, Guovdageaidnu, brings his ancestral legacy and original compositions to Gabba’s music, creating a sound that is both haunting and captivating. In 2023, the band received the Norwegian grammy Spellemannprisen for their debut album entitled "Gabba".

Tarmo Noormaa, the programme manager of the festival, saw the band in November, in Norway, at Folkelarm, performing in a lavvu. “I was captivated by John André Eira’s great respect for the culture of his ancestors, which was reflected in very convincing joiking and clever texts between the songs. I was also impressed by the sound of the band that could be described as Sami tundra blues. I know that our audience will welcome them warmly and they’ll make many new friends here with whom to make music together in the future,” said Noormaa .

XXXI Viljandi Folk Music Festival “Patterns and Traces” (25th–28th July 2024) focuses on the distinctive patterns in traditional music that help to strengthen and identify the cultural particularities of different ethnic groups. Various cultural ambassadors are brought to Viljandi with the help of EAS, Premia, Põhjala Pruulikoda, Moe OÜ, Terminal Oil, Mariine Auto and Subaru.