In a Big Country
Despite the title of this week’s blog, there'll be no songs from the 80’s band Big Country (though, that would be fun for at least one song, right?). On the contrary, this week’s show isn't just about one country--it’s about many countries. For two hours on The World Music Show we’ll explore the continent that is Africa. And though we won’t be able to hit all 54 countries or explore the more than 3000 languages that populate this region, we will break down the continent by way of compass points, i.e. North, South, East, West (and the middle).
First stop on the map will be sounds from the Northern region. We’ll hear tracks from Issa Bagayogo (Mali) Orchestra Baobab (Dakar), Mohamed Mounir (Egypt), to name just a few. But to name just a few, would limit the amount of great music that comes out of the Northern region, so you'll want to be sure to listen out for these folks, too: Salif Kieta, Ali Farka Toure (both from Mali) and the rap trio known as Daara J (Senegal).
Next, we’ll move East to hear music from Doctor King'esi (Kenya), Natacha Atlas (Egypt) and Rajery (Madagascar) Granted, many of these countries will overlap--some are North/East, etc. But hey, it’s about the music, not about the borders, right?
After that Eastern trend, we’ll head to a few countries in the middle of Africa to hear some Super Soukous Guitar music (Soukous is Congolese Rumba music), and Ray Lema (Zaire) and the fantastic singer Gigi (Ethiopia) who now lives in San Francisco.
I’ve saved the last two compass points for last--West and South. So much great music comes from these regions that it’s hard to pin all of it down. But, I’ve hopefully been able to pick a few highlights that showcase the diversity.
To kick off this hour, you’ll from a father and son who have transfixed Nigeria with their strong political and uplifting music. Seun Kuti and his father Fela Kuti have really pushed the boundaries of Nigerian music and they've also catapulted the Afrobeat music out of Nigeria. In a nice nod to his father, Seun uses Fela’s backing band Egypt 80.
Some other key musicians of hour two that you’ll want to hear are from: Ladysmith Black Mambazo, and a few tracks from Johnny Clegg and Savuka. Plus, there’s all sorts of great stuff in between.
Africa is so diverse--especially musically. I know I’ll be missing a few beats by not including a few major artists. Maybe I should do a “Africa Part Two” show? Tell me who you’d like to hear from this region.
The World Music Show airs Saturday nights at 10:00 p.m. You can follow my ramblings and insights on Twitter, too. Look me up: @wcveworldmusic.