BY ELLIE FUQUA
For the Lotus World Music & Arts Festival, 2014 is a year of transition. Launched in 1994, the festival has a new executive director, Sunni Fass, and a new title for its co-founder Lee Williams as artistic director. After last year’s 20th anniversary festival, a blow-out weekend that invited many “Lotus alumni” artists back to join the celebration, Williams decided to step down on a high note.
He forfeited his managerial duties to Fass, but kept his favorite part of the job — choosing the musicians. “I’m looking forward to seeing what happens with two directors,” says Williams.
Now that he’s working half time and focusing entirely on bookings, Williams concludes that the 2014 festival, which will run from September 18–21, is the easiest he’s experienced.
The opening-night concert on Thursday, September 18, begins with Söndörgo, a fast-paced, instrumental Hungarian group that plays traditional southern-Slavic music, and continues with returning favorite Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino, an acoustic Italian band that adds dance to the mix. The Friday and Saturday showcase nights feature acts in large, outdoor tents including The Revelers, a Cajun band from Louisiana, and Tsuumi Sound System, a Finnish modern folk band.
The lineup also features the “voice of the Tunisian Spring,” Emel Mathlouthi, a singer-songwriter best known for her protest songs, “Ya Tounes Ya Meskina” (“Poor Tunisia”) and “Kelmti Horra” (“My Word is Free”), which became anthems for the Tunisian revolution of 2010 and the Egyptian revolution of 2011.
Other attractions of the 2014 festival include the free Lotus Arts Village on Friday and Saturday evenings, Lotus in the Park workshops on Saturday afternoon, and the festival-ending World Spirit Concert on Sunday.
Despite Lotus’ ever-changing lineup, some things remain the same. Fan favorite Movits!, a Swedish swing/hip-hop band, will make their third appearance. “I would book them every year if I could,” Williams says.
As Lotus moves into its third decade, Fass is looking forward to its evolution. “We live in a dynamic community, both locally and globally,” she says, “and one of Lotus’ great values is that it’s always changing to reflect that, always expanding our vision of the world. I’m looking forward to continuing to push those boundaries.”
She adds, “There’s something pretty special about Lotus. It embodies so many of the reasons why we all choose to live here.”
Lotus Festival 2014 Playlist
Be sure to check out our YouTube playlist of many of the artists coming to this year’s festival! To begin our playlist, here is a video of fan favorite Movits!