Although the 16th La Mar de Musicas festival in Cartagena, Spain, between July 9-24 is dedicated this year to Colombia, it kicks off with London record label boss Nick Gold seeing his dream come true of bringing together musicians from Cuba and Mali.

The owner of the label World Circuit is best known for asking U.S. producer Ry Cooder to record veteran Cuban 'son' musicians at Havana's legendary Egrem studios in 1996, and then releasing them on the "Buena Vista Social Club" album in 1997. The album was a global success, with 7 million units sold, says World Circuit.

But the original idea had been for Cooder to record Cuban and Malian musicians together in Havana. The African artists could not get visas to the Caribbean island, so Gold asked Cooder to go ahead with the Cuban musicians alone.

However, on July 9 in Cartagena, La Mar de Musicas (Sea of Music) starts with Afro-Cubism, a Gold project linking musicians from the two countries including singer-guitarist Eliades Ochoa (one of the few surviving members of the original Buena Vista group), Toumani Diabate, Bassekou Kouyate, and Kasse Mady.

Other artists featured in La Mar de Musicas include Patti Smith, Salif Keita, Youssou N'Dour, Diego El Cigala, Gotan Project, Macaco, Aterciopelados, Martha Wainwright and Toto La Momposina.

Toto, one of the great female singers of Colombian folklore, will present her new album, "La Bodega." Other representatives of traditional Colombian music scheduled to perform include Cholo Valderrama and Los Gaiteros de San Jacinto.

Other acts performing include Os Mutantes from Brazil, and jazz singer Melody Gardot.

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