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Small Swansea Valley town to hold celebration of African culture

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Ystradgynlais may be a small Swansea Valley town, but it’s set to celebrate the warmth of African culture thanks to its Welfare Hall.

Thursday 11th August will be a day to remember, as The Welfare Ystradgynlais hosts African drumming, dancing and crafts workshops, a carnival procession, a live music performance and pop-up food.

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Encompassing both the Welfare itself and the streets of Ystradgynlais, performers and participants are set to come together in celebration, before the evening brings a headline performance from one of Guinea’s finest exports.

As part of the daytime programme, BACA (Butetown Arts & Culture Association) brings the joy of the iconic Butetown Carnival to Ystradgynlais with Dwndwr y Dŵr. Magical motifs and folk memories from Wales and around the world. A story about desires, choices and consequences through Carnival costume, music and dance.

An ‘OpenOut2022’ commission by Wales Outdoor Arts Consortium (WOAC) and Articulture. Supported by the Arts Council of Wales, Welsh Government and the National Lottery.

At 8pm Fatoumata Kouyaté (known internationally as the artist Djeliguinet) leads the group Troupe Djeliguinet in a evening of music and song. Djeliguinet is a renowned Guinean singer-songwriter, and has wowed festivals all over Africa and around the world. ‘Djeliguinet’ means griot-woman in the Susu and Malinké languages of West Africa. Fatoumata Djeliguinet is a woman overflowing with energy and skill in traditional instruments such as the balafon, djembe, kora, krin, and bolon.

At a very young age she learned her craft at her father’s (Ousmane Kouyaté, balafon master) side, and grew up immersed in ancient musical tradition forming her own unparalleled musical versatility and artistic ingenuity. In turn she has passed this most precious heritage to her eight children (five daughters and three sons), with whom she shares the stage and her passion for traditional instruments. Djeliguinet’s determination and talent has seen her ascend to be a respected artist in the male dominated music scene of West Africa, breaking barriers and shattering stereotypes, paving the way for her all-woman family super-group Djeliguinet et ses Enfants (Djeliguinet and her children) featuring her sister and four of her daughters.

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Music fans can buy tickets for the full festival or concert only tickets from the Welfare’s website or box office at www.thewelfare.co.uk 01639 843163 with full day tickets starting at £15.

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Arts and Entertainment

Cult brand ‘Bingo Lingo’ announces Swansea Arena show

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Cult bingo brand Bingo Lingo has announced it will be bringing its popular mad-cap style of bingo to Swansea Arena this October.

The unconventional bingo night, which has previously sold over a million tickets to revellers across cities including Bristol, Birmingham, Liverpool and Luton, has announced a huge one-off show at Swansea’s newest multipurpose entertainment venue – Swansea Arena.

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Past winners have walked away with prizes ranging from the incredible to the ridiculous; from a new car, electric scooters, to festival tickets, giant inflatables and holidays.

The team behind Bingo Lingo announced the event explaining that: “We operate in over 30 cities in the UK, but the shows in Cardiff and Swansea are some of our favourites. Every event we’ve held in Swansea has sold out and the summer series we did with The Swansea Bay Pop Up was so fun. We want to give the city a huge show and Swansea Arena was the obvious choice.”

Tickets go on sale Wednesday 10 August at 12pm.

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Film & TV

Paralympian Ellie Simmonds OBE confirmed for Strictly Come Dancing

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Paralympian and former Olchfa Comprehensive School pupil, Ellie Simmonds OBE has been named as a contestant on this year’s Strictly Come Dancing.

The five-time Paralympic champion and broadcaster joins previously announced contestants Will Mellor, Kym Marsh, Richie Anderson, Kaye Adams, Jayde Adams and Tyler West.

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Ellie Simmonds OBE said: “Oh my gosh!! I’m literally bursting with excitement!! It’s been soooo hard keeping this secret as I’ve wanted to tell everyone. I’m going on Strictly Come Dancing!! I’m a tad nervous too, well more than a tad… I’m absolutely petrified!

“To be asked to be part of the Strictly family is just so exciting and I cannot wait, it’s going to be so much fun. I’m counting down the minutes until it starts; learning to dance, meeting my partner and everyone else involved in the show. Plus wearing the sequins and all that, it’s going to be a blast.

“I’ve been watching Strictly from as far back as I can remember; it’s a traditional lead up to Christmas with my family and it’s a genuine privilege to be part of it.”

Ellie is best known as a gold medal-winning Paralympic swimmer. At the age of thirteen, while a pupil at Olchfa Comprehensive School in Swansea, she was the youngest British athlete at the 2008 Summer Paralympics in Beijing, and won gold medals in the 100m and 400m freestyle events.

In 2012 she achieved gold in the 400m freestyle and the 200m Individual Medley at the Summer Paralympics in London and won a further gold in the 200m Individual Medley at Rio 2016. In addition she has won ten gold World Championship titles.

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At the age of 13 she won BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year and a year later, at just 14 years old, she became the youngest person ever receive an MBE. She was elevated to OBE in the 2013 New Year Honours for services to Paralympic sport.

After retiring from competitive swimming in 2020, Ellie has gone on to present for BBC Sport, most recently for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, as well as making documentaries such as Ellie Simmonds: A World Without Dwarfism? for BBC One and BBC iPlayer. She is set to explore disability and adoption in a recently announced ITV film.

(Lead image: BBC)

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Music

Theatre fans to get ‘Lost in Music’ at 70’s throwback tribute ‘One Night at the Disco’

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Hit 70’s concert show Lost in Music – One night at the disco is coming to Swansea’s Grand Theatre on Friday 9 September.

Disco’s roots are firmly founded in the early Seventies, says James Taylor, producer of the hit touring concert show Lost in Music, which hits Swansea’s Grand Theatre in the coming weeks.

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“It was a time when Motown Records’ biggest stars began to get funky,” he says. “Philadelphia Records became a hit song conveyor belt with its distinctive combination of soulful vocals and lush arrangements. And, soundtracks of movies – from Shaft to Car Wash – lifted the world to its dancing feet.”

By 1977, says James, disco was in full flow.

“Lost in Music fondly remembers the height of the disco era,” he says, “faithfully recreating the biggest hits of Donna Summer, Earth Wind and Fire, Gloria Gaynor, Chaka Khan, Chic, Diana Ross, Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes, Sister Sledge and more.

“Our company Entertainers produces scores of hit touring shows including the Magic of Motown, Fastlove, The Rocket Man and Thank You for the Music,” he says. “But, Lost in Music is by far our liveliest production. It’s non-stop dance anthems from curtain up.”

Disco tribute concert ‘Lost in Music – One night at the disco’ is coming to Swansea’s Grand Theatre

In fact, James admits a couple of mid-tempo tunes have had to be added to the 32-song set list to ‘give the audience a breather’.

“From worldwide ladies’ anthems like I’m Every Woman and I Will Survive,” says James, “to the Nile Rogers/Bernard Edwards-produced Everybody Dance, We Are Family, I’m Coming Out, I Want Your Love and – of course – Lost in Music; plus the greatest hits from New York’s legendary Studio 54 Discotheque: You Make Me Feel Mighty Real, More than a Woman and Disco Inferno; and soul anthems Ain’t No Stopping us Now and Boogie Wonderland – it’s disco wrapped up into two hours of non-stop hits.”

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Backed by a talented live band, Lost in Music stars a cast boasting stunning vocals which combines this with the extravagant dance moves and fabulous fashion of the era, to bring the best the late Seventies had to offer to life, live on stage.

“Audiences are taken on a musical journey straight to the heart of disco by a band that just wants to play in front of crazy fans,” promises James. “Concertgoers are encouraged to come dressed to impress and to get involved.

“It’s the feel-good show of the year – come and get lost in music. . . “

Touring the UK with more than 200 dates in the diary for 2022, Lost in Music is coming to Swansea’s Grand Theatre on Friday 9 September 2022. Tickets are on sale now.

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