Find out who’s performing at NYU Abu Dhabi’s Barzakh Festival this Februrary

The fifth season sees cultures collide in three separate events brought to you from around the world.

Coming to you online via Facebook, Youtube, and the New York University – Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) website, this year’s edition of Barzakh Festival features three separate events.

Venezuela, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, South Africa go under the spotlight as cultures meld when artists share their stories at this year’s Barzakh Festival by The Arts Center at New York University Abu Dhabi.

Presenting their stories through song and the spoken word, each of the artist’s message is bounded by each of the global-minded musician’s identities and culture, yet there could be more in common than what sets them apart.

Tune in between 1-6 February when Venezuelan Betsayda, Native and African American Martha Redbone and Kuwaiti Boom.Diwan will virtually take to the stage.

For more information, visit nyuad-artscenter.org






Afro-Venezuelan singer Betsayda Machado will ‘take to the stage’ on 1 February but rather than singing, she will be presenting research into female rural singers.

Betsayda Machado  is part of a traditional singing group Parranda El Clavo; Parranda literally means party and El Clavo is the town they are from in Barlovento in Venezuela.

Typically, Parranda El Clavo travels from small town to small town, performing earth-shaking songs for the people of Venezuela.

While their songs are simply awesome, Betsayda will actually be presenting a listening party based on the research of female rural singers.

The research is in relation to Oswaldo Lares, a Venezuelan architect, now in his 80s, who would often travel through Venezuela researching traditional Venezuelan music.

During the presentation, the audience will be privy to a collection of testimonials, songs and so the story of Parranda El Clavo comes to life.

Monday, 1 February, 8pm.
Join the event here.


Back to the source




Native and African-American vocalist, songwriter, composer and educator, Martha Redbone is known for her unique gumbo of folk, blues and gospel from her childhood in Harlan County, Kentucky infused with the eclectic grit of pre-gentrified Brooklyn.

Inheriting the powerful vocal range of her gospel-singing African American father and the resilient spirit of her mother’s Cherokee/Shawnee/Choctaw culture, Martha broadens the boundaries of American Roots music.

On 3 February, Martha will intertwine stories with songs that share her life experience as a native and black woman, celebrating the cultures’ resilience.

“We also talk about the times that we are living in, the way we are now meeting on screens rather than physically in really life, and the way it is affecting black and brown people, and indigenous people, who have had a terrible time, for example, getting health supplies.

“So we’ll be celebrating resilience and the fact that we are still here.”

Martha believes that the blues will be welcomed by the UAE audience and that they will discover something new in relation to Native and Afro American history and the connection, which she says is the foundation of blues in itself.

Along with four group members, Martha hopes to discover something new from the other artists sharing the stage with at the festival, in hope we can all bring our musical message across to the audience.

Wednesday, 3 February, 8pm. Join here.


Songs of Rituals




Founded by Ghazi Al-Mulaifi, an applied ethnomusicologist and professor of music who earned his Doctorate of Philosophy in Music from New York University (2015), Boom.Diwan is a collaborative global jazz ensemble that is inspired by the cosmopolitan Kuwaiti pearl diving music of the Indian Ocean trade.

Influences, spanning Zanzibar to Calicut, improvisation, fluidity, and dialogue are at the centre of Boom.Diwan. On 6 Feb, Boom.Diwan ‘take centre stage’ (virtually) to transmit their art.

This collaborative force will share Kuwaiti pearl diving music, “putting it back into dialogue,” says Ghazi Al-Mulaifi, who explains how music on the pearl diving ships “made life possible”.

“The music  made labour possible, made life possible, made harmony possible.” Such voyages saw long periods of pearl diving expeditions or merchant expeditions, always bringing back musical influences, and new instruments.

“It was about collecting and recording memories,” says Ghazi. “I hope in our presentation that we give a nod in the pearl divers and their spirit of adventure, their curiosity, their willingness to engage with the different cultures they came to know”.

Leading his collaborative ensemble of Boom.Diwan, Ghazi will take viewers on a voyage where traditional Kuwaiti bahri (sea) music with global jazz traditions merge, as well as reviving a musical tradition of dialogue and exchange.

And for this edition of Barzakh Festival, Boom.Diwan will collaborate with no other than pianist and composer Nduduzo Makhathini, the first South African artist signed to Blue Note Records.

Saturday, 6 February. Join here.

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