Nomadic influences at Afropop Worldwide

If you’re a world music devotee, there’s one radio program you should listen to religiously: Public Radio International’s Afropop Worldwide. African music, African culture, and the musical influences of African diaspora — there is no greater world music authority than Afropop and its host, Cameroon-born Georges Collinet. And its website is a treasure trove of an international music archive.

Afropop Worldwide’s most recent program featured the haunting music of the nomadic Fulani people, who can be found from Senegal to Guinea. Although the show plays on my local station at a time I’m not usually conscious, the first few minutes of flute music this week kept me from switching off the radio. The traditional flute, which looks like a cross between a Western concert flute and the wooden Native American instrument, emits a sound like a young man singing over the wail of the wind.

The program, inspired by an interview with Senegalese musician Baaba Maal, digs to the depths of what truly inspired music sounds like: the heart of wandering nomads, singing of love and loss and reminders that normal family life exists while you’re out with nothing but the earth, sky, and a bunch of cows.

For a wider reach, the Afropop Worldwide site is also currently providing links to artists featured at GlobalFest 2008, one of the world’s largest marathon one-day world-music events.

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