Girona’s Black Music Festival brings together more than 50 local and international artists for its 14th edition
In 2002, the ‘Black Music Festival’ was born when the ‘La Mirona’ concert room was created in Salt, a small city next to Girona. The festival wanted to become a shop window for both local and international artists of black music styles that have evolved from their original soul music source. This weekend it will kick off its 14th edition, which brings together almost 50 artists from English-speaking countries such as the United Kingdom and the United States. Jazz greats Maceo Parker and Richard Bona will be the stars of the 2015 edition but other great soul, blues, funk, hip hop and reggae musicians such as Myles Sanko – a soul revelation artist from the UK – and The Coup – a controversial hip hop and soul band from the USA – will complete the lineup of the festival, which ends on 21 March.
Girona (CNA)-. The ‘Black Music Festival’ was created to become a ‘shop window’ for both local and international artists of black music styles which have evolved from their soul music mother. This year, the Festival will have its 14th edition which will bring rhythm to the cities of Girona and Salt from 27 February to 21 March. It will host almost 50 artists from English-speaking countries such as the United Kingdom and the United States. Jazz figures like Maceo Parker and Richard Bona will be the stars of the 2015 edition but other great Soul, Blues, Funk, Hip hop and Reggae musicians with various styles like Myles Sanko – a soul revelation artist from UK – and The Coup – a controversial hip hop and soul band from the USA – will complete the festival programme until it closes in 3 weeks time. However, the ‘Black Music Festival’ does not ignore local musicians, so the concert list will include bands such as Fundación Tony Manero, The Gramophone Allstars, Flamingo Tours and Grateful Blues Band, which shows a preference for these black music styles among Catalan artists.
Activities besides the concert programme
Myles Sanko and Frank Knurf are in charge of opening the festival on 27 February with a special concert in Salt’s La Mirona concert room. However, apart from concert halls, the festival will offer music classes with the festival’s artists, additional activities such as a photo workshop and documentary film screening, and free street shows to bring black music to all kinds of audiences, from children to adults. Organisers say they are making an effort to keep the ticket prices low to compensate for the 21% cultural VAT imposed by the Spanish Government. With the support of local small sponsors and 30% of the budget coming from subsidies, the organisation expects an 80% attendance rate, similar to that which the festival achieved last year.
Sponsors and other aid helps towards great a musical offering with reasonable prices
As for its funding, the Black Music Festival is possible thanks to the donations of more than 50 local sponsors together with a few major sponsors. 30% of the budget is paid for with the help of officials and the rest is paid through ticket sales. Fourteen different spaces such as the ‘La Mirona’ concert room, the ‘Auditori de Girona’ municipal theatre, the Sunset Jazz Club and ‘Espai Marfà’ – all located in Girona and Salt – will embrace the 47 concerts scheduled for this year.
The director’s point of view
The director of the festival, Jordi Planagumà, told CNA that the Festival was created to embrace black music concerts. “Black artists didn’t have their own festival”, so they decided to start up the ‘Black Music Festival’ with Salt’s ‘La Mirona’ starting as their venue in 2002. Then, that kind of music “had a minority audience but it’s popularity has been increasing among Catalan musicians who play it and the part of the population who are interested in listening to various black music styles”.
Jordi Planagumà is proud to have achieved the aim of the festival: “for the musicians involved with the ‘Black Music Festival’, it’s a kind of ‘store window’ showcasing ourselves to a specific audience”. “One of our initial aims, in addition to other ambitions, was to bring to Girona top international figures of black styles like Maceo Parker”, the biggest star of the 2015 edition who is going to play with the Girona Jazz Project big band in a unique concert created especially for the festival.
The director of the festival also highlights ‘Soules’, a main production which joins three popular Catalan singers Txell Sust, Sandra Fern, and Marina BBface together with a new artist called Alba Pérez who won a talent competition the festival had online in order to choose the fourth member while discovering new singers.
This year’s edition presents new challenges to the audience. Festival organisers have scheduled more street concerts than in any previous edition of the ‘Black Music Festival’, so as to be closer to local people of all ages that maybe are not used to these genres and can discover them for free. Finally, Jordi Planagumà said that the festival is possible thanks to the work of more than 50 people and estimates that this year’s event will rival last year’s figure of 18,000 concert-goers.