Produced by Siddhartha Mitter. Follow link for audio. In the music of the French Antilles – the islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe – you can hear influences that range from the traditional bèlè and gwo ka drumming of the islands’ rural communities, to European additions like polka and French chanson. But when these islands produced a pop genre that took much of the Caribbean and African world by storm – the smooth and sexy dance music zouk, which exploded in the 1980s – it was an entirely new blend that uniquely reflected the complex layers of identity in these Caribbean communities that are, administratively, a full-fledged part of France. Still colonies? Many think so. Either way the Antilles have long produced artists and thinkers with deep sensitivity to the gradations of race, class, migration, and relationship to a powerful, distant metropolis. Now, musicians in Guadeloupe and Martinique are re-exploring their roots, celebrating rhythms that go back to slavery days without pulling back from the cosmopolitanism of recent years. Our guide to this music – and the rich history and ongoing debates that it reflects – is Brenda Berrian of the University of Pittsburgh, whose book, Awakening Spaces: French Caribbean Popular Songs, Music and Culture, is a definitive – and enthusiastic – treatment of the subject.
Produced by Siddhartha Mitter. Follow link for audio. Missionaries and nationalists rubbed shoulders in Kenya as early as 1906, when Kenya was a young, British colony. Christianity has long been closely allied with local, cultural expressions: however, it was only with the spread of radio in the 1940s that choral makwaya groups began to be heard by mass audiences. Hymns, arranged in 4-part harmony and translated into African languages, mark the humble beginnings of what has become a robust industry in Kenya. Today, Christian-themed music dominates the country, from traditional drumming and singing, to Kenyan country music, to guitar band pop, to reggae and rap. Our guest on this program is author and ethnomusicologist Jean Kidula. Kidula will trace Kenyan music’s development from the 1940s to the present, placing rare and unavailable musical examples from her extensive collection in historical context. Produced by Siddhartha Mitter.
Produced by Siddhartha Mitter. Follow link for audio. Competition between communities of Indian and African descent has been a mainstay of politics and culture in the former British colonies of Trinidad and Tobago, and Guyana. This rivalry plays out in institutions from the University of the West Indies to the West Indies cricket team, and of course, popular music. At the time of Trinidad’s Independence, the Afro-Caribbean political elite of the day sought to enshrine calypso as the country’s national music, but new genres have emerged, from the steel-pan jazz and calypso of the 1960s to soca and its successor, chutney-soca, which for the first time in the 1980s fully integrated Indian and African influences in a local popular music. This Hip Deep edition explores all of these styles, and also the music of diaspora communities in the U.S. and the U.K.. Ethnomusicologist Peter Manuel of the City University of New York shares his ground-breaking research on Indo-Caribbean music in all of its geographic and social contexts. His music and insights reveal a fascinating, overlooked story of hybrid Caribbean culture.
Produced by Siddhartha Mitter. Follow link for audio. In just fifteen years, Uganda lowered its HIV/AIDS infection rate from 30% to just 5%. The life-saving information was best channeled by grassroots theater groups, and especially, women’s choirs who turned health advice, sometimes blended with religion, into entertainment that could move freely to even the most remote regions of Uganda. Ethnomusicologist and medical anthropologist Gregory Barz helps us get below the surface in a country where a person might visit a Catholic health clinic in the morning, a charismatic church in the afternoon, and a traditional healer versed in herbal remedies or even spirit possession, at night. We’ll also hear from popular musicians such as Uganda’s longstanding roots pop dance band Afrigo Band, the late singer Philly Lutaaya, a brave artist who was the first to publicly announced he had AIDS, the current king of traditional pop, Nandiujja, and artists performing in the lively, guitar driven kidango kamu style. A profound example of music’s potential to transform society. Produced by Siddhartha Mitter.
Produced by Siddhartha Mitter. Follow link for audio. We explore the current pop music of Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, two countries where elements of hip-hop and international pop music have grafted themselves onto local styles to create whole new genres-ones robust enough to not only take over the local youth culture but also spread beyond their borders. In Ghana, hip-life–a synthesis of hip-hop and highlife–dukes it out with gospel music on the airwaves. In Cote d’Ivoire, music has blossomed despite a stubborn political crisis. The idiosyncratic local music of social comment, zouglou, has morphed into coupe-décalé, a dance-driven style that has supplanted Congolese soukous as the sound of the moment in Francophone Africa and its Diaspora.