This year the WOMEX Award goes to Freemuse, an organisation that
monitors the freedom of expression in the domain of music. The only,
and thus the most important, prize for world music was awarded on
26 October in the Spanish city of Seville during the WOMEX festival.
Freemuse, set up by the Swedish musicologist Krister Malm and the
Danish journalist Ole Reitov, has been fighting against music censorship
since 1998. Reports about countries, such as Nigeria, and a database
on the Internet are its most important weapons. Moreover, Freemuse
attempts to draw international attention to individual cases such
as the release of the Cuban musician Gorki Carrasco, who was arrested
under suspicious circumstances in April during a rock festival in
Pinar Del Rio for selling drugs and was subsequently sentenced to
four years in prison.
This was the fifth time that the WOMEX Award has been awarded for
'outstanding contribution to the international development of world
music'. Previous prize winners have included Juan de Marcos and
Nick Gold for the Buena Vista Social Club from Cuba (1999), the
South African band Mahotella Queens (2000), the Pakistani musician
Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (2001) and Jivan Gasparyan (2002) from Armenia.
The WOMEX festival is held annually; the venue alternates between
the organisation's home base in Essen, Germany, and a guest country.
About 2000 representatives from more than 80 countries attended
the festivities in Seville, visiting the stands of musicians, record
companies and promotors. Even though doing business was the primary
objective of all the parties involved, the festival also offered
lectures and discussions about musicological and political-cultural
subjects. Moreover, 33 new bands and musicians performed for the
music industry and the public of Seville.