Friday, January 20, 2023

Afropop Worldwide On the Air this week: Afro-Tech: Stories of Synths in African Music

Afro-Tech: Stories of Synths in African Music

Technology is one of the great drivers of musical change, and often one of its least understood. In this episode, we explore the synthesizer, looking closely at the history of this ubiquitous (and often debated) piece of musical technology, and investigating how and why it was first used in a variety of African musics. Enabled by groundbreaking record reissues by synth pioneers like William Onyeabor (Nigeria) and Hailu Mergia (Ethiopia), disco stars like Kris Okotie, and South African superstar Brenda Fassie, we take you back to the '70s and '80s, listening to the birth of a distinctly African electronic sound. Listen to the show here. Produced by Sam Backer.

January in New York City: globalFEST 2023 

And If you love live music, the second weekend in January in New York City is a feast for the eyes and ears. With the national arts presenters association, APAP, camped at the Midtown Hilton, music and dance acts of all genres pack the hotel and venues all over the city with showcases aimed at securing bookings. In the realm of global music; its our beat: it's almost overwhelming.

Afropop Worldwide made the scene from Thursday, January 12, through the capping finale, globalFEST presented for the first time on three stages at Lincoln Center's David Geffen Hall on Sunday, January 15. We'll tell you the story mostly in images and videos we shot at five different venues. Grab a glass of wine and settle in for a spell. There's a lot to absorb here!  All photos and videos shot and edited by Banning Eyre.

Passings: Tshala Muana and Stella Chiweshe

The past month has seen a string of significant losses in our musical world. It began with Tshala Muana, the Congolese Queen of Mutuashi, who died in late December, 2022. In her 64 years, she championed the seductive style of the Kasai region in an era when Kinshasa rumba variants ruled the Congolese scene, and indeed, the continent of Africa. Tshala Muana's music broke through all of that with its rich melodies and profound rhythms, deeply rooted in pre-colonial traditions.  

Today, January 20, we learned of another monumental passing. Zimbabwe's Stella Chiweshe was the first woman to come to national and international prominence on the Shona mbira. Her highly productive career included long, serene solo performances and recordings, beginning with radio recordings in the 1970s, as well as forays into popular formats, including with members of 3 Mustaphas 3 on the landmark album Ambuya in 1990.  Read the commemorations from Banning Eyre here.

Events Around New York 

Thurs., Jan. 26 Doors: 7 p.m.  Show: 8 p.m.
World Music Institute Presents

Samir LanGus and DJ Omar Aena
Let's Dance Series
Nublu – 151 Avenue C
Tickets and Information 

Sun., Feb. 19, 2023, 10 p.m. – Mon, Feb 20, 2023, 4 a.m. EST
South Africa's afro-tech artist SHIMZA
 New York on President's Day Weekend
Tickets and Information 

Sat., Feb., 25 Doors: 7 p.m.  Show: 8 p.m.
World Music Institute Presents

Bembona with Afrodominicano and Parcha 
Let's Dance Series
Nublu – 151 Avenue C
Tickets and Information 

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Afropop Staff:
Sean Barlow, Executive Producer
Banning Eyre, Senior Editor
Michael Jones, Chief Audio Engineer (
Mukwae Wabei SiyolweDirector of New Media and Operations
CC Smith, Editor at Large

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