Ziggy Marley, who has released eight solo albums and won the same number of Grammy Awards over a 40-year career, was originally scheduled to perform at the 2020 WOMADelaide but pulled out just days before the festival began.

At the time, he released a statement saying he had to take care of “some unforeseen family responsibilities”, adding: “I was really looking forward to this trip and we haven’t been there in a while so it was really sad that we’re not making it but alas, next year at the WOMAD festivals we will be there and so we will see you then.”

COVID struck soon after and in 2021, with restrictions still in place, WOMADelaide pivoted to a series of sunset concerts with an Australian-only line-up.

Marley’s performance on the closing day of the 2024 festival, which runs from March 8-11, will mark his WOMADelaide debut and his first time in Australia since 2012. The festival website says that “the call to stand together in activism through love rings out loud and clear” in the music of the artist and activist, whose recent releases include a new cover of his late father Bob Marley’s song “Cornerstone”, recorded last year with his brothers.

Today’s WOMAD announcement comprises musicians from 25 countries, with other highlights being New York-based Afrobeat-influenced seven-piece Budos Band, Senegalese star Baaba Maal, Brazilian singer-songwriter (and former politician) Gilberto Gil, and charismatic Ukrainian quartet DakhaBrakha, who some fans might remember from their appearance at the 2011 festival.

They join the previously announced Swedish singer José González and British jazz producer and drummer Yussef Dayes.

Performing across all four days will be touring troupe Streb Extreme Action, whose performance style is described by choreographer and founder Elizabeth Streb as “a mixture of slam dancing, exquisite and amazing human flight and a wild action sport”, and South Africa’s Handspring Puppet Company, which will work with local theatre company Slingsby to present a “Celebration Parade” of life-size elephants.

“With WOMADelaide entering its fourth decade, we are thrilled and honoured to have the festival stages graced by luminaries such as Ziggy Marley, Gilberto Gil, Baaba Maal and Elizabeth Streb, who share the qualities throughout their extraordinary careers of breaking boundaries and creating work which celebrates the creativity, excellence and inclusiveness central to the arts,” festival director Ian Scobie says.

Streb Extreme Action tests the limits. Photo: Ralph Alswang

Tickets for the first three days of the 2023 WOMADelaide Festival sold out in advance, with capacity crowds rocking out to headline acts including Florence + The Machine and Bon Iver, but crowd congestion and toilet queues sparking complaints from some festival-goers.

In today’s announcement, organisers say a new WoMarkets hub comprising more than 40 retail stalls will be presented in a specially commissioned “breathtaking 160m-long sculptural structure” on Plane Tree Drive as part of “a significant redesign of the festival layout”.

Further artists will be announced next month.

2024 WOMADelaide artists announced so far:

Arooj Aftab (USA/Pakistan)
Baaba Maal (Senegal)
Braxe + Falcon (France)
The Budos Band (USA)
DakhaBrakha (Ukraine)
DJ Koco (Japan)
Dubioza Kolektiv (Bosnia & Herzegovina)
Elephants Laugh – Muljil (South Korea)
Folk Bitch Trio (Australia)
Gilberto Gil (Brazil)
Handspring Puppet Company (South Africa)
Ibibio Sound Machine (UK)
Illapu (Chile)
José González (Sweden)
Leenalchi (South Korea)
Maqamat – Beytna (Home) (Lebanon/France)
Moonlight Benjamin (Haiti/France)
Nitin Sawhney (UK)
Pongo (Angola/Portugal)
Sharon Shannon Big Band (Ireland)
Son Rompe Pera (Mexico)
Streb Extreme Action (USA)
Tejendra Majumdar & Ambi Subramaniam (India)
Tio (Vanuatu)
Wantok Sing Sing feat. Telek (Oceania)
Witch (Zambia)
Yussef Dayes (UK)
Ziggy Marley (Jamaica)

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