Every year, the 7 Samurai, a small group of esteemed members of the global music community, come together to put the WOMEX programme together. Five Jury members focus on selecting the Showcase artists, while the other two members collaborate on the Conference Sessions. The Seven Samurai that will curate the WOMEX 17 programme are:
Kaisha Johnson (USA)
Kaisha Johnson is the Founding Director of Women of Color in the Arts (WOCA), a national service organisation dedicated to creating equity in the performing arts field by advocating for and supporting a diverse body of arts leadership. Most prior, Kaisha served as a director at the Center for Traditional Music and Dance. With 20 years experience as an arts administrator based in NYC, Kaisha has a Masters degree in music business administration from New York University and has done post-graduate work in ethnomusicology at Hunter College of the City University of New York.
Mounir Kabbaj (Morocco/France)
Originally from Morocco, Mounir Kabbaj landed in France in 2004. After a few years of cultural project management studies and professional experiences, Mounir joined the label and concert office Accords Croisés and the Festival au Fil des Voix as the head of communication for three years. In Paris in 2014, he co-founded his own agency, Ginger Sounds, specialising in booking, management and services around the new African and Mediteranean scenes. Mounir is also world music selecta under the pseudonym "Le Mood Du Mahmood".
Sofyann Ben Youssef (Tunisia/Beligum)
Born in Tunis, Sofyann Ben Youssef is a Brussels-based music producer and musician with the groups Kel Assouf and Bargou 08. He has tourned internationally as a musical director for contemporary dance shows and composes for movies. Together with Nicole Kayal, he co-founded TUMEX (Tunisian Music Export) a platform aiming to enhance the presence of Tunisian music abroad.
David Chavez (USA)
David Chavez has presented artists from all over the globe at venues, theatres, and festivals across Chicago for 15 years. He’s a co-curator of the Chicago World Music Festival and curator of the Millennium Park Music Series, some of the most respected platforms for international music presentation in North America.
Minna Huuskonen (Finland)
Helsinki-based Minna Huuskonen has over 20 years of experience in music business covering all genres. She has worked at Helsinki Pop & Jazz Conservatory, at Finnish Music Information Centre (Fimic) conducting export projects for folk/world, jazz and indie pop/rock, among others. Since 2008, Minna has been at Helsinki Festival, programming and producing the Huvila Festival Tent venue. In 2013, she established an agency and management Minnamurra Music focusing on world and jazz acts.
Martyna Markowska (Poland)
Head of Programming at Katowice City of Gardens, in charge for programs of Katowice JazzArt and Gardens of Sounds festivals (respectively, jazz and world music) as well as the Crossroads showcase in Ostrava. Author of numerous publications on contemporary culture. Lived and worked on three continents and loves the whole world.
Carlos Seixas (Portugal)
Carlos Seixas has been the artistic and production director of FMM Sines Festival since 1999. Its programme has been praised as one of the richest and most daring in the live world music circuit. The festival is especially tuned to the contemporary world, the movements of migrations, the culture-crossing and the transcontinental encounters. Carlos started his career as producer and programmer of live events in the 80s. He took the lead in programming other Festivals and was artistic director of an Art Center. He is currently associated with Gindungo Artist Development, a music management and booking organisation.
The WOMEX Jury was first invented for the fifth WOMEX edition in 1999. See a full list of our past Jury members in our archives.
Photos: Showcase Nights, by Eric van Nieuwland; Mounir Kabbaj, by Eglantine Chabasseur; David Chavez, by Chris Sanders.
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