As podcast subscribers and listeners know, the Afropop Closeup podcast series, hosted by individual producers, is a place where we go beyond the music into politics, religion, history and culture. It’s a wide open forum allowing producers to tell stories from all corners of our African diasporic world.
On July 4th, we launch the nine episodes of Season 8. These are all part of the Afropop Worldwide podcast stream. If you’re not a subscriber, click here to join us. And you can always hear published programs and podcasts in the Audio Programs section of www.afropop.org. Click here to subscribe.
Here’s an introduction to the podcasts in this season.
July 4, 2023: Jacqueline Crooks’s Fire Rush: In March 2023, the British-Jamaican author Jacqueline Crooks’s debut novel Fire Rush was published by Penguin Random House to widespread acclaim. The book is a semi-autobiographical work set in the sound system scenes of London and Bristol during the 1970s and 80s, with a later section unfolding in rural Jamaica. In this podcast, producer David Katz speaks with the author and she reads portions of the text, all set to dub music backing.
July 18, 2023: Etienne Charles: The Freedom of Carnival: Carnival in Trinidad is a feast for the senses – sights, smells, sounds, all blend together into a colorful celebration that you just have to see to believe. Trinidad born trumpeter Etienne Charles has composed an ambitious multi-part suite of music honoring the elements of Carnival that he experienced from a young age called Carnival: Sound of a People Vol. 1. Producer Trevor Smith speaks with Charles and we hear excerpts from the work.
August 1, 2023: Acoustic Guitar Heroes of Africa: Producers Jayme Stone and Cory Seznec take us on a fingerstyle guitar journey through Africa, digging into the music’s rich history and traditions with a spotlight on solo guitar innovators. In this episode, you’ll hear omutibo from Western Kenya, Katanga sounds from the Congo and the Zambian Copperbelt, palm-wine and Mandingo styles from West Africa, scorching Malagasy grooves, and focus on fingerstyle pioneer Daniel Kachamba of Malawi.
August 15, 2023: Touching Down in Tunesia: Stambeli is a traditional healing music in Tunesia. It is related to Moroccan gnawa music using similar instrumentation and generally for the purpose of healing a person during a ritual ceremony. But Stambeli also stands on its own at a time of cultural and generational change in Tunesia. Producer Tasha Goldberg takes us to Tunisia to meet young and old practitioners.
August 29, 2023: Movement: A Conversation with Jesus Diaz: Meklit Hadero is a singer and composer and the host of a new podcast called Movement, which tells the story of global migrations through music. In this shared episode, Meklit speaks with Cuban-American percussionist Jesus Díaz about his journey from playing homemade drums in Havana to performing on the biggest stages in the world Diaz. Produced by Ian Coss and Meklit Hadero.
September 12, 2023: Wagogo Music Heaven: Veteran Afropop producer Banning Eyre visits the Zawose family compound in Bagamoyo, Tanzania, to experience the magic of the hypnotic music of the Gogo people, the Wagogo. Msafiri Zawose, son of the late Tanzanian music legend Hukwe Zawose, describes the music and the emergence of the new Zawose Reunion Band.
September 26, 2023: Ghana – Must Go? Ghana has become a popular destination in recent years, since the country’s direct appeal to African Americans to visit Ghana and embrace it as their homeland with the “Year of Return.” Producer Yinka Rickford-Anguin explores Ghana’s blossoming appeal while also looking at the ways some Ghanaians in the U.K. have been waving the proverbial flag.
October 10, 2023: How the Sound of Saudade Traveled to Ethiopia: At first glance, the sounds of Brazil and Ethiopian music are distinctively different. But, once you dig deeper you find the feeling of saudade bridges the gap between both nations. Producer Zubeyda Ahmed unravels the fascinating link between Ethio Jazz and Brazilian rhythms such as bossa nova, samba, and touches on traditional Afro-Brazilian cultures; illuminating the remarkable journey of saudade’s musical pilgrimage to Ethiopia.
October 24, 2023: Africa Seven (Steven Maecs) Producer Steven Maëcs speaks with with Rich Elson, the label manager of the fast growing cult record label Africa Seven. Officially launched in 2015, based in London and Paris and with an outlet in New York. Africa Seven focusses on releasing curated remastered vinyl albums and eclectic painstakingly researched compilations, mixing big and big “ish” hits with thoughtful deep cuts.