Sunday, January 16, 2022

Afropop Worldwide: Off The Beaten Track - Burkina Faso and Malawi

Off the Beaten Track in Malawi and Burkina Faso

This program ventures into corners of Africa we hear from rarely, guided by adventurous field recordists and crate diggers. The Zomba Prison Project is a set of recordings by inmates at a maximum security prison in Malawi, currently the poorest nation on earth. The project's debut CD was nominated for a Grammy award. Here, we speak with the producer, Ian Brennan, and hear tracks from a new volume of soulful, even heartbreaking, songs from the prison. Then, we go back to the 1960s and '70s in the city of Bobo-Dioulasso in Burkina Faso (then Upper Volta) to sample a gorgeous set of newly revealed recordings by Volta Jazz, Dafra Star, Les Imbattables Leopards and more. We hear from Florent Mazzoleni, the author and intrepid vinyl collector behind the new box set, Bobo Yéyé: Belle Époque in Upper Volta.

Produced by Banning Eyre in 2016.



The January 9th fire in the Bronx killed 17 people and displaced hundreds of building residents. Nearly all of the victims were of Gambian or West African descent, a community that had coalesced in the high-rise building, as a Jan. 12 New York Times story outlined. They are Afropop's neighbors and part of our community and their living situations are now even more tenuous—staying with relatives or in hotels while the fate of their homes is being decided. If you have the resources and feel so moved, the Mayor's office is running a relief fund to raise money to support victims of the event. 

Drew Gonsalves is the Trinidad-born, Toronto-based leader of the calypso band Kobo Town. You could consider them a revival band, because they play the music in the live, swinging, pre-soca style. But that's not the whole story. Gonsalves is a fine composer with a stinging wit and deep insights into the human experience—a key element in classic calypso. Afropop's Banning Eyre reached Gonsalves by Zoom to talk about his life and Kobo Town's new albumCarnival of the Ghosts.

Afrofuturists rejoice: Marshall Allen, the 97-year-old bandleader of the Sun Ra Arkestra, made an album of classic Sun Ra tunes, among others, in a small ensemble, led by Tyler Mitchell, the Arkestra's bassist back in the mid '80s. The first song is out now.

Afropop Worldwide has just received the globalFEST Impact Award. "This award goes to an organization that has earned respect and praise from the global music community for their outstanding commitment to the field. This year's recipient is Afropop Worldwide (Sean Barlow, Georges Collinet, and Banning Eyre). Afropop debuted on public radio in 1988. Thirty-four years later, the core team is still at it, having survived wars, recessions, political upheavals and a pandemic, continuing to aid, advise, and mentor artists, producers, writers, filmmakers, presenters, and colleagues in countless endeavors supporting and promoting global music," globalFest announced. 

Speaking of globalFEST....

Shows Around New York

 Sun. Jan. 16, 2 P.M.
Jomion & The Uklos

So, everything's a little up in the air right now, but we can be reasonably sure this show will happen, mainly because it's a live-streamed event.
Rhythms of Benin meld with reggae, salsa and other Caribbean flavors.
 Also, it's free but make sure you RSVP!

Jan. 18-20
globalFest Meets Tiny Desk
Hosted by our friend Angelique Kidjo, streamed via YouTube!

Afropop is always looking for editorial, development and membership interns. Click the link for more information.
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CC Smith, Editor at Large
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