Grace Jones, Mavis Staples, Seun Kuti & more named for Kite Festival UK 2020

KITE festival takes a holistic view of society where culture and power are inextricably linked. Music is more than a distraction from the conversations of the day, music can drive the most important conversations forward and help underrepresented voices find a place within mainstream political discourse. Counter cultures born out of clubbing communities in America fifty years ago and the effect of the afrobeat movement on Nigerian politics throughout the 1970s and 80s are just two examples of how music has shaped the world we live in today.

While it’s impossible to understate the importance of music in shaping politics and culture, music is to be enjoyed above all else. The Italian futurists recording factory noises in the 1950s did not have the influence of Bob Dylan. Captain Beefhart’s “Trout Mask Replica” is not as important as the Sex Pistols “Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols.” The music program at KITE brings together indie, folk, soul and artists from musical traditions from around the world with the aim of enhancing the conversations held at the festival while allowing people to cut loose.

Kite Festival 2020 UK poster

GRACE JONES is the perfect example of this approach. She is the epitome of the New York club scene of the late 70s and early 80s and has gone on to become an icon in queer, fashion and music communities.

As “one of America’s defining voices of freedom and peace,” (NPR) MAVIS STAPLES has been on the edge of music and politics for her entire career. “I’m still trying to bring us together and make the world a better place through songs,” she says. Her pedigree is unquestionable – she marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., performed at John F. Kennedy’s inauguration, and sang in Barack Obama’s White House. She’s collaborated with everyone from Prince and Bob Dylan to Arcade Fire and Hozier.

Picking up from where his father left off, SEUN KUTI has continued the political legacy of afrobeat. An energetic and charismatic performer who only stops dancing to deliver political, almost poetic, soliloquies on inequality, injustice and capitalism.

SAM LEE is a folk singer and conservationist who holds a unique place in the UK Music scene. A founding member of “Music Declares Emergency” he is fighting to make the music industry more sustainable in the face of the climate crisis. Sam Lee is also a well known figure within Extinction Rebellion adding conservationist and musical elements to rebellions throughout 2019.

FLAMINGODS bring together the sounds of the Middle Eastern and South Asian 70s psychedelic movements in modern contexts to create one of the best live shows in the UK. Founding member Kamal Rasool was born in Bahrain. He spent years struggling with the UK immigration system between the release of FLAMINGODS’ first and second albums. This meant that “Majesty” was recorded with band members spread across two continents for much of the process.