Ten Photos, Ten Memories

Based in Copenhagen, Jacob Crawfurd has been one of the central figures in capturing WOMEX’s live essence for the past ten years. Joining the WOMEX Photography team in 2009, a man of many trades, Crawfurd works as a freelance photographer and multimedia professional in different industry settings and activities.

Fond of the analogue, Jacob worked for many years with photo, film and video before switching to digital. Primarily directing his lens towards bands, concerts and cultural activities, he also produces music videos and short documentaries. His interest in African culture and development issues has taken him to the continent on several occasions and assignments. He is also actively engaged in promoting and curating African-related events in Denmark, having been the ‘African ambassador of the year’ in Denmark 2008 by the initiative: Celebrate Africa - African Achievement Awards.

In celebration of the 25th WOMEX Anniversary, Jacob curated a selection of ten pictures with a memory, a thought or an observation of his experience while documenting his years at the most international music meeting in the world and the biggest conference of the global music scene.


1) Mamane Barka - WOMEX 09 Copenhagen

Mamane Barka (Niger) gracefully played his version of blues and traditional songs from Sahara. He was said to be the last master of the rare Biram instrument. Sadly, he passed away in 2018 and maybe a part of the musical traditions from the Toubou nomads disappeared with him. This was my first year attending WOMEX and I was immediately hooked on all the music, people and great photo opportunities.

2) Fatoumata Diawara - WOMEX 10 Copenhagen

It was my interest in African music which led me to WOMEX. When Fatoumata Diawara went on stage, I knew I had seen her before. Looking through the viewfinder, I recognised her as a backing vocalist for the great Oumou Sangaré a year earlier. The WOMEX showcase must have been one of the first international solo concerts for the young singer from Mali. And the rest is history... I have since heard and photographed Fatoumata several times.

3) Duquende - WOMEX 11 Copenhagen

Duquende (Spain) was also one of the singers I had seen before. He had been performing together with Paco de Lucia on the same stage, but now he was the star. The power of his voice came through on the photo, and I was happy to see it on the front page of the culture section of a Danish newspaper the following day.

4) Yom & Wang Li - WOMEX 12 Thessaloniki

Smoke from incense was dancing in the light as musical notes, at the showcase with Yom & Wang Li (France/China). I am mostly trying to portray the musicians directly, but sometimes there can be other inspirations hidden in the lights and shadows.

5) Fixi & Winston McAnuff - WOMEX 13 Cardiff

You might think that Fixi (France) has at least three hands when you listen to his accordion. But on this photo, two of them belongs to Winston McAnuff (Jamaica). The two musicians made a great team on stage.

6) Calima - WOMEX 14 Santiago de Compostela

Laura Guillén Romero dancing flamenco with the Spanish group Calima. Movement and dance on a stage with good light makes it even more fun to be a music photographer.

7) Rancho Aparte - WOMEX 15 Budapest

The WOMEX feeling! It can be a bit of a challenge to keep the camera steady when the WOMEXicans start to dance. Columbian band Rancho Aparte managed to transfer their energy directly to the audience.

9) King Ayisoba - WOMEX 17 Katowice

Singing to ancestors and grandfathers. I have followed King Ayisoba (Ghana) from when he started appearing in Denmark more than 10 years ago. I also remember him walking around at the WOMEX trade fair with his kologbo and oversized sandals. Later I got to know him and made a music video for his song "Wicked Leaders". In 2017 he had his own WOMEX showcase as a truly unique performer.

10) Newen Afrobeat - WOMEX 18 Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

When time permits, I try to look for alternative angles at WOMEX. Here it is a make-up table and a mirror reflecting Newen Afrobeat as they were celebrating backstage after their showcase. A band from Chile performing in the spirit of Fela Kuti... We are all connected. Anything can and probably will happen at WOMEX.