Not Lost in Translation
It may seem obvious, but I think it bares repeating, that music is a universal language. There's nothing "lost in translation" when you're listening. I mean, you may not understand the words being sung, but beats are a global thing, right? So in typical World Music Show fashion, this week's show (6/1) will run the gamut of songs that you may or may not understand. But that's ok, because it's just music. Nothing to fear here from your speakers.
I started with this bit becuase recently, a co-worker at my other job, told me she tried to tune into the show. Her and a friend were driving to a club when my co-worker remembered to turn on the show. I'm not sure what songs she actually got to hear because it could have been anything--and in any genre--and from any country. While she was checking out the songs being played, her friend rolled her eyes and prodded her friend to get back to the other station so she could hear "her song."
So, within a span of about 5-10 minutes, two people got two different takes on World Music. My co-worker, who was thoughful and a bit intrigued, said she'd check out the show again. While her friend, I'm sure, let the experience slip from her memory as soon as they were out of the car. And to me, that's ok. But it got me thinking about the state of music and the amount of choices we all have to listen to music on. Becuase to me, when you give music a chance--no matter where it's from--you get to experience something entirely new and hopefully entertaining and perhaps even inspiring.
And as they say in show business, on with the show...
We'll kick of the show with Senegalese singer and guitarist Baaba Maal. Maal is well known in Africa and internationally is probably Senegal's most famous musician after Youssou N'Dour. In addition to acoustic guitar, he also plays percussion. He has released several albums, both for independent and major labels. In July 2003, he was made a UNDP Youth Emissary. We'll hear a couple of tracks off his 2001 release called "Mi Yeewnii" or "Missing You." Also mixed into this first chunk will be British singer and guitarist Michael Kiwanuka (who has the smoothest voice, almost like a reincarnated Otis Redding) and we'll hear some self-described Afropean music from Zap Mama. Zap Mama describes Afropean as a blending of African and European styles of music.
From here on out, it'll be a World Party (*special clue to a song coming later). We'll hear a couple of tracks from a Putumayo release called "New World Party," specifically from a trio of musicians known as Dissidenten. These guys were once hailed by "Rolling Stone" as the "Godfathers of World Beat." Well, you can be the judge after you hear their tune caleld "Lobster Song." Also off that same CD will be a song by Haitian/American Wyclef Jean, who is paired with the Refugee Allstars. Plus, sandwiched into this chunk of music will be a couple of French tunes from Thomas Fersen and the band Karpatt, who like to sprinkle their songs with Gypsy Jazz, Reggae and Rock n' Roll.
To round out the first hour, we'll hear a couple of songs from Mexico's Cafe Tacuba, as well one from the Gipsy Kings and the Brazilian singer Ceu. Plus, I'll throw in some local Brazilian music from the band Quarto No Bossa and some piping hot salsa music from another local band, Bio Ritmo.
For the second half of the show, we'll continue the musical trek into summer (as heard on a few past World Music Shows) by featuring some stellar Reggae tunes, primarily from Peter Tosh and Ziggy Marley. An odd pairing with these two artists, but not far-off when hear them all together, will be a song from Denmark's Emo and a song from Canada's K-Os (who'll do the song "Crabbuckit" as a nod to the "Lobster song" heard in hour one).
In looking back at this week's theme and at this week's playlist, the music thus far seems fairly "safe." However, in this next set, I'll test the boundaries of music that may or may not get lost in translation. I'll feature of quartet of Asian Tabla Beat Electronic Music. Heard primarily on the dance floor, this style mixes traditional Asian sounds and instruments, such as the tabla, with more Western style electronic beats. We'll hear from San Francisco's DJ Cheb I Sabbah and the band Banco de Gaia, as well from multi-instrumentalist Karsh Kale.
To close out the show, we'll move back into the safety zone of world music styles by featuring a few songs from Paul Simon, who loves to infuse his songs with world beats. And, I'll end the show with a World Party--you'll have to tune in to hear what I mean.
So, if you're able to tune for this two-hour exploration into World Music, perhaps the world will become a little bit closer in terms of culture, style and understanding. The World Music Show aires weekly, every Saturday Night on WCVE Public Radio at 10:00 p.m., 88.9FM or online via this website. You can follow the show on Twitter, @wcveworldmusic.