Documentaries

The radio documentary – an often unappreciated format, but one of my favorites. Here lies, specifically, long-form productions I’ve made for Afropop Worldwide, the place where I first got started in radio.

Hosted by veteran African radio personality Georges Collinet Afropop shows weave interviews, narration, and music together to reconstruct the stories behind some of the world’s most captivating music scenes. Below, you can stream just about all the shows I’ve produced for Afropop so far.


The Mighty Amazon

July 28, 2014

The Amazon has long been a mystery to Brazil. Located far from the centers of business and power in the nation’s South-East, the jungle provinces of the Brazilian North have long been ignored by the nation at large. But recently, Brazilians have been discovering that the cities and waterways of the Amazon are home to some of the nation’s hottest music. In this Hip Deep episode—a musical history of Pará state, where Afro-Caribbean influences have created a unique local flavor that connects the dots between Brazilian music and the rest of Latin America. We check out the guitar heroes of old-school Amazonian dance bands, investigate the origins of the early ’90s lambada dance craze, and explore the bubblegum bass culture of tecnobrega. Featuring interviews with singer Gaby Amarantos, lambada revivalist Felipe Cordeiro and ethnomusicologist Darien Lamen, among others.

Listen to “The Mighty Amazon” on Afropop Worldwide


Kickin’ It In Cabo Verde

May 30, 2014

Cabo Verde (also known as Cape Verde) is undeniably a music powerhouse. Despite its small size (population 500,000), the West African archipelago is the third-largest country in music sales in the “World” market by some estimations. That’s why the islands have become home to the Atlantic Music Expo: a trans-oceanic music fair featuring conferences and concerts that attract musicians and industry professionals from across the globe. In this episode, Afropop drops in on the Expo to check out the latest in Cabo Verdean music. We hear from talented new singer-composers Dino D’Santiago and Ceuzany, check out high-energy funana from Ferro Gaita and Ze Espanhol, and sample other tasty musical fruits from the land that created Cesaria Evora.

Listen to Kickin’ It In Cabo Verde on Afropop Worldwide


The Money Show

April 25, 2014

Every day, money changes hands in Ghanaian cedi, South African rand and Brazilian reals as music is created, traded, performed, purchased and pirated. In this episode we look at the business side of African music, through a series of vignettes from around the continent and diaspora that illuminate the deep connections between musical creation and the economies that sustain it. First, we tell the story of how cellphones are radically transforming Africa’s music industries. Then, we look at how business competition between street dance DJs birthed a sound system culture in Colombia. We look at African songs that made millions… for U.S. record companies. And, we take a trip to Jamaica to see what happens when artists decide to share.

Listen to The Money Show on Afropop Worldwide


African Sounds of the Indian Subcontinent

May 2, 2013

In this Hip Deep program, we explore musical connections between Africa and the Indian subcontinent. First, we hear the story of the Afro-Indian Sidi community. Starting in the 13th century, Africans arrived in India as soldiers in the armies of Muslim conquerors. Some were able to rise through the ranks to become military leaders and even rulers in India. Their descendants continue to live in India today, performing African-influenced Sufi trance music at shrines of a black Muslim saint named Baba Gor. Next, we dive into the swinging jazz era of 1930s Bombay, when African-American jazz musicians arrived by the dozen to perform at the glitzy Taj Mahal Hotel. They trained a generation of Indian jazz musicians who would become instrumental in the rise of India’s Hindi film music industry. Then, we head south to Sri Lanka, where Africans have had a presence for almost 500 years. We explore their history through the groovy Afro-Indo-Portuguese pop music style known as baila, popularized by 1960s star Wally Bastiansz and still performed at parties around Sri Lanka today. Last, we speak with Deepak Ram, a Indian jazz flutist who recounts his experiences growing up Indian in apartheid South Africa. Throughout, we speak with leading experts, and of course, hear fantastic – and often unexpected – music.


La Bamba: The Afro-Mexican Story

February 28, 2013

Much has been made of Mexico’s rich Spanish and indigenous heritage, but until recently, there’s been little talk of Mexico’s so-called “Third Root”:  Africa. Africans came to Mexico with the Spanish as soldiers and slaves – so many that by 1810, the black population of Mexico was equal to that of the United States. Today, African heritage persists throughout Mexico, yet for a variety of reasons, black history has long been silenced. In this Hip Deep episode, we use music to explore that history as we take a road-trip across the country in search of sonic traces of Afro-Mexico. We visit the state of Veracruz to learn the history of the Afro-Mexican son jarocho sound, made famous by Ritchie Valens’ 1958 hit cover of La Bamba, a traditional jarocho tune. Then, we visit the Costa Chica of Guerrero, where Afro-Mexican communities are fighting for government recognition to help preserve faltering musical traditions. And we’ll stop by the golden-age halls of Mexico City, where the Afro-Cuban danzón thrives far from it’s ancestral home in Havana. Along the way, we hear from top scholars in the field such as Ben Vinson III and Alejandro Madrid, as well as Afro-Mexican music stars past and present, from Los Cojolites to Las Cafeteras. ¡Que padre!

Don Delio Cover_EDIT_2

La Bamba: The Afro Mexican-Story by Afropop Worldwide

Listen to “La Bamba: The Afro-Mexican Story” on Afropop Worldwide


The Soul of São Paulo: Rock, Rap and Future Music from the Endless City

December 26, 2012

In this episode, Afropop Worldwide travels to São Paulo, the 20-million person Brazilian megalopolis, to report on the explosive music scene stirring among the city’s cosmopolitan youth. São Paulo is hardly the Brazil you see on the postcards – it’s a city of endless high-rises that stretch on into the horizon, covered in colorful graffiti and snarled with traffic. But it’s also a place where people, ideas, sounds, and technologies come together and get scrambled-up like nowhere else in South America. On this program, we delve into the music of being made in São Paulo as a window into the Brazil of the future. First, we head to the city’s sprawling outskirts to explore São Paulo’s long and vibrant relationship with hip-hop culture. Then we check out the local indie scene, where artists like Holger and Lulina seamlessly mix Brazilian traditions with the latest sounds from the US and Europe. We visit local record shops, an Afro-Brazilian music fair and DIY venue for underground music, and speak with everybody from São Paulo legend Arnaldo Antunes to up-and-coming songwriter Thiago Pethit, hip-hop innovator Rodrigo Brandao and bluesy rockeira Bárbara Eugênia.

Sao Paulo SKylone
The Soul of São Paulo: Rock, Rap and Future Music from the Endless City by Afropop Worldwide

Listen to “The Soul of São Paulo” on Afropop Worldwide


Rio 2: Samba Strikes Back

July 26, 2012

Part two of our Hip-Deep series on the music of Rio de Janeiro picks up the samba story where we left off in the 1960s, tracing the rhythm as it transforms and re-appears throughout the many popular music forms that developed in Rio in the later 20th century. Scholar Frederick Moehn, author of a book about samba and pop music titled Contemporary Carioca, shows us how samba’s shadow re-appears in the youth music of MPB-stars Pedro Luis and Marcos Suzano, and how a samba revival led by young artists in the Lapa neighborhood revitalizes Rio’s urban core. Arriving in the 21st century, we see how samba’s footprint continues to reverberate in Rio today, in the form of the electronic tamborizao rhythm behind funk carioca tracks , and in the beats of Brazilian hip-hop pioneer Marcelo D2.

Rio 2: Samba Strikes Back by Afropop Worldwide

Listen to “Samba Strikes Back” on Afropop.org


Rio 1: Samba at the Dawn of Modern Brazil

July 12, 2012

In Part One of our 2012 Hip Deep Brazil series, we travel back in time to Rio De Janeiro in early 20th century to explore the birth of Brazil’s most iconic sound: samba. Beginning with the arrival of poor nordestinos in the city after the end of slavery in 1888, we follow the exploits of the early sambistas as they forged the genre that would come to represent the nation. Brazilian scholar Carlos Sandroni shows us how Afro-Brazilian religious music and popular styles like the modinha transformed into the syncopated samba beat. Then, media scholar Bryan McCann guides us through the glamor and political intrigue of 1930s Rio as samba explodes as the popular music of choice throughout the country. Plus, we speak with samba greats from the old guard to the young bloods including Dona Yvone Lara, Heitorzinho dos Prazeres, Paulão 7-Cordas, and Luciana Rabelo. In the end, we find out how samba, an ambitious radio station and a populist dictatorship worked together to shape Brazilians’ ideas about race, society and the Brazilian nation itself.

Rio 1: Samba at the Dawn of Modern Brazil by Afropop Worldwide

Listen to “Samba at the Dawn of Modern Brazil” on Afropop.org


Mexico Rock City: Vive Latino Fest 2012

May 12, 2012

Every year in Mexico City, tens of thousands of music fans flock to Vive Latino, one of Latin America’s biggest music festivals. Cutting edge artists from across the Americas and beyond perform on four massive stages, showcasing some of the most exciting new music being made anywhere today. For the first time, Afropop Worldwide makes a pilgrimage to the biggest city in the Western Hemisphere to bring listeners a taste of the festival. We experience local legends Cafe Tacuba as they perform to 60,000 hysterical fans singing along to every word, the refreshing alt-norteño of Juan Cirerol, soul-stirring tunes from the captivating Carla Morrison, and driving cumbia from Sonido San Francisco, just to name a few. Plus, exclusive interviews with Venezuelan disco-punkers La Vida Boheme, psychedelic Chilean sensation Astro, and Hello Seahorse frontwoman Lo Blondo.

 

Mexico Rock City: Vive Latino Fest 2012 by Afropop Worldwide

Listen to “Mexico Rock City” on Afropop.org


Getting Down in the Guyanas

January 25, 2012

We visit one of the world’s last untamed natural and musical wildernesses: The Guyanas. Riding along bumpy jungle roads and in dug-out canoes, Afropop producer Marlon Bishop travels from Suriname to French Guiana for the Transamazoniennes Festival, located in the remote border town of Saint-Laurent-Du-Maroni. We enjoy the region’s fascinating cultural stew, where French Creole, maroon, Amerindian, Hindu, Javanese, and Dutch elements all mingle together on the outer fringes of the Amazon and hear styles like kaseko, bigi pokoe, aleke, and kawina. We’ll speak with local stars Prince Koloni, Little Guerrier and Chris Combete, as well as visiting acts such as self-proclaimed “African gypsy” Wanlov the Kubolor and polyglot rap crew Nomadic Massive.


Getting Down in the Guyanas by Afropop Worldwide

Listen to “Getting Down in the Guyanas” on Afropop Worldwide


Africa in East Asia: From Shanghai Jazz to Tokyo Rastafari

September 2011

In the 20th century, music and culture from the African Diaspora traveled all over the world…. and East Asia is no exception. In this Hip Deep episode, Afropop explores the different ways that Black music has influenced culture and society in places like China, Japan, Korea and Thailand. China scholar Andrew Jones takes us into the decadent underworld of 1930s Shanghai, where a hybrid form of jazz that mixed African-American sounds with traditional Chinese melodies challenged notions of tradition and modernity as political forces grappled to define the direction of modern China. Then we visit Japan, where homegrown reggae groups such as the Mighty Crown Soundsystem have fostered a massive Jamaican dancehall scene with an attention to detail. Plus, we speak with cultural critic Oliver Wang on the surprising connections between Asia and the development of hip-hop.

 

Africa in East Asia: Shanghai Jazz to Tokyo Rastafari by Afropop Worldwide

Listen to “Africa in East Asia” on Afropop Worldwide


Midwest Electric: The Story of Chicago House and Detroit Techno

June 2011

It’s been over thirty years since house and techno music exploded out of South Side Chicago and inner-city Detroit, and most Americans still don’t know their dance music history. In 1977 a DJ named Frankie Knuckles moved to Chicago to spin and remix disco records at an underground club called The Warehouse. Out of a fringe subculture that formed there – gay and African-American – house music would emerge to become one the biggest club music genres in the world. Meanwhile, young black futurists of Detroit channeled their city’s post-industrial decay into a utopian machine music known as techno. In this Hip Deep episode, Afropop travels to Chicago and Detroit to explore the past and future of electronic music. Through dozens of interviews with seminal house and techno producers – including Paul Johnson, Vince Lawrence, Juan Atkins, and Carl Craig – as well as scholars, radio DJs and party promoters, we’ll find out how two chilly mid-western cities taught the world to dance

 

Midwest Electric: The Story of Chicago House and Detroit Techno by Afropop Worldwide

Listen to “Midwest Electric” on Afropop Worldwide


Afropop Soundsystem 5: Neo-Cumbia Sounds From Colombia

February, 2011

Around Latin America, Colombia is known as the heartland of cumbia, one of the most-listened-to styles in the Americas. But in Colombia itself, cumbia’s popularity came and went in the 60s and 70s. Until now. A new generation of young Colombians are digging into Afro-Colombian roots music as a rich source for modern musical fusions. We speak with some of the hottest young Colombian artists in this movement today, including Sistema Solar, Bomba Estereo, and Choc Quib Town. Plus, we take a look at the neo-cumbia renaissance sweeping dance floors around the world, and take an eye to the music’s new-found global vogue.

Co-produced with Madeline Bair

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Listen to Afropop Soundsystem 5 on Afropop.org


The Cumbia Diaspora: From Colombia To The World

February 2011

Move over salsa and merengue – cumbia is the most popular music in Latin America. Today, cumbia is played from the borderlands of Texas down the spine of the Andes to the tip of Tierra del Fuego. In this Hip Deep edition, we find out how cumbia left Colombia in the 60s and 70s and traveled to other countries. Everywhere it went, it transformed itself, adapting to its new environment. In Peru, cumbia mixed with psychedelic guitar effects and Andean sounds to become chicha. In Argentina, it became the expression of a new generation of restless youth in the burgeoning slums of Buenos Aires. And in Mexico, it became so instilled in the local culture that some have forgotten that it came from Colombia in the first place. Through extensive interviews with experts and musicians, we find out how cumbia and its many transformations tell us the story of Latin America in the late 20th century.

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Listen to The Cumbia Diaspora on Afropop.org


An Afropop Journey to Central America, Part 1: The Panama Beat

September 2010

Central America, a narrow, mountainous, and largely impoverished stretch of land spanning seven countries, is a surprising and under-exposed Latin American musical hot zone. The region’s tumultuous history has led to a fascinating mix of cultural influences – Spanish conquistadors, British pirates, and American banana companies have at one time or another vied for power. Add to this mix presence of large indigenous enclaves, Anglo-Caribbean migrants, the Afro-Arawak Garifuna people, and the many musical influences of the Caribbean, and you have the makings of a very interesting musical tapestry. Salsa and merengue, soca and calypso, reggae and reggaeton – it all comes together in Central America. In Part 1 of our program, we visit Panama, a little known musical treasure trove. Here on the ithmus, music from around the Americas mixed together in a unique stew: North American, Cuban, Colombian, and Jamaican influences combine to form a complex and unique musical culture. We’ll hear interviews from Spanish reggae star Kafu Banton, Afro-Spanish linguist John Lipski, traditional Afro-Latino princess Marcia Rodriguez, dancehall youngbloods Los Rakas, and many more.

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Listen to The Panama Beat on Afropop.org


Latin Alternative Music Conference 2010

TK DATE

Every year, the hippest new sounds from South of the border invade New York City for the Latin Alternative Music conference, and every year, Afropop is here to tell you about it. Latin Alternative is psychedelic cumbia, Chilean hip-hop, Mexican indie-rock, Panamanian dancehall, and just about anything that fails to fit into the typical Latin pop formats. The conference brings acts large and small from around the Americas to perform, from well known-favorites such as Ozomatli, to promising indie artists destined to be the Next Big Cosa. This year, you’ll hear exclusive interviews and performances from Argentine roots reggae master Fidel Nadal, Panama youngbloods Los Rakas, Miami cumbiancheros Locos Por Juana, analog Afrobeat innovator Chico Mann, and plenty of others.

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Listen to LAMC 2010 on Afropop.org


Beneath The Music: An African History of Bass

January 2010

This week, Afropop celebrates one of the unsung heroes of African music: the bass. Join us as we slap, pop, and thump our way across the African Diaspora with our ears tuned to those fat sounds beneath the music and the funky men who make them. Our tour of the global low-end will bring us to some of Africa’s bassiest nations – Cameroon, Congo, Zimbabwe and South Africa – as we look at how local bass innovators combined international and traditional influences to forge new ways of looking at the role of the bass and taking the instrument to new frontiers. We also look at the bass in the Diaspora, with a stop by Detroit to hear how Motown’s James Jamerson forever changed bass history, as well as a visit to Cuba to find out how bassist Israel “Cachao” Lopez invented mambo with the well-placed pluck of a finger. Special guests include former Bass Player Magazine editor Jim Roberts, Congolese bass guru Ngouma Lokito, latin-jazz bass legend Ruben Rodriguez, and Bakithi Kumalo, one of Africa’s premier bassists and the man behind the groove on Paul Simon’s Graceland.

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Listen to Beneath the Music on Afropop.org


Afropop Soundsystem 3: Nu-Whirled Music

October 2009 (TK DATE)

Afropop Worldwide takes us into the world of the globalistas, a far-flung grouping of polyglot hipsters, bass freaks, and digital beatsmiths who rally around the sounds of the 21st century dancefloor – rhythms such as Angolan kuduro, Brazilian funk carioca, reggaeton and dancehall, Indian bhangra and Argentine electro-cumbia. Ethnomusicologist/DJ/Blogger/Writer Wayne Marshall calls this music World Music 2.0, highlighting how digital production technology and the internet has created new, younger, international audiences for music from other places. Marshall will guide us through the sonic circuitry of global bass music and show us why old assumptions about “world” music might no longer apply. We’ll also speak with DJ Rupture, Dutty Artz founder and visionary world mashup artist, and, of course, listen to some ground shaking tracks from across the beat-o-sphere.

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Listen to Afropop Soundsytem 3 on Afropop.org


Afro-Dominicana: Muisc from the Other Dominican Republic

TK DATE

In the 1930s, infamous Dominican dictator Rafael Truillo ordered the burning of the country’s palos drums, hoping to erase the powerful vestiges of African culture in the Dominican Republic. Luckily for us, the breakneck, trance-inducing sound of palos still reverberates at Afro-syncretic religious parties across the island nation almost a century later. This week, Afropop revisits the home of styles such as merengue and bachata, but this time we’ll be looking towards the most deeply African side of Dominican music–little known outside of the island. Afro-Dominican music is a secret treasure, filled with virtuosic drumming styles, heart-stopping grooves, and mystic dance parties. We’ll listen to traditional genres like palos, salve, and gaga, a uniquely Dominican take on rara music from neighboring Haiti. Throughout, we’ll be looking at artists who have drawn on Afro-Dominican styles to make infectious pop music, from wizened veterans of the folklore movement such as Luis Dias, to a host of hip, young bands who use Afro-inspired rock, reggae, and hip-hop to redefine what it means to be Dominican.

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Listen to Afro-Dominicana on Afropop.org


LAMC 2009

TK DATE

Electro-cumbia-hop, plena-reggae, mambo-ghettotech – just some of the hybrid grooves and genre-bending experimentations on display at the 2009 Latin Alternative Music Conference (LAMC) in New York City, now in its 10th year, that has long been a showcase for cutting edge bands from Bogota to Buenos Aires, and this year is no different. Join the Afropop team with in-depth coverage of the festival, as we sample the sounds of a new generation of cosmopolitan, transnational Latino and Latin American artists. Music and interviews from dreamy Mexican chanteuse Natalia Lafourcade, Colombian scenesters Monareta, Cypress Hill’s Eric Bobo, and a visit with Nacional Records’ founder and president, Tomas Cookman. Plus, a live concert from Bomba Estereo, the psychodelic afro-danceparty sensation from Colombia.

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Listen to LAMC 2009 on Afropop.org


Reggaeton Roundup: New Moves in Latin Youth Music

TK DATE

When Daddy Yankee released his hit single, “Gasolina,” in 2005, nobody suspected what was about to happen. Reggaeton, that rollicking Caribbean dance-rap, traveled like an uncontained blaze around the world – crossing over from the Latin charts to pop and hip-hop from the U.S to Australia, thrilling and/or shocking those that came in its path. Reggaeton was the sound and swagger of a new generation of urban Latin Americans, and a whirl around Latin America in 2009 will show you that the genre is here to stay. We travel to Puerto Rico, the birthplace of reggaeton, and talk to players from the music’s history and take the pulse of today’s scene. We’ll follow that omnipresent bass-heavy beat that wove its way from coastal Panama in the 1980s to freestyle sessions in San Juan in the 90s, and talk to Puerto Ricans who are taking the music to new places today. Interviews with Omar Garcia, Calle 13, and more, plus side trips to Brazil and Chicago to get a taste of Baile Funk and Latin House.

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Listen to Reggaeton Roundup on Afropop.org


Kriolu in New England: The Cape Verdean-American Story

TK DATE

Of all contemporary Cape Verdeans, Cesaria Evora, “the Queen of the Morna” has made the biggest impression internationally. However the first Cape Verdean to grace the American imagination was the harpooner Dagoo in Herman Melville’s Moby Dick (1851). Cape Verdeans first arrived in United States as whalers in the late 1700′s and have been coming ever since, bringing a distinctive Portuguese-African Kriolu flavor to communities across Southern New England and beyond. We’ll take a step back in time and look at the rich cultural life of Cape Verdean neighborhoods, where great bands played mornas and coladeiras at local social clubs. Our principle guide for this program will be historian Marilyn Halter, author of Between Race and Ethnicity: Cape Verdean American Immigrants, 1860-1965. She’ll take us through the years as the Cape Verdean community navigated the turbulent waters of opportunity and identity in America long before the age of American multiculturalism. Then we’ll jump ahead and explore current trends from the far-flung Diaspora’s thriving music scene, ranging from hip-busting funana to sleek cabo-zouk. All along, we’ll be hearing from Cape Verdean-American musicians, from old-time guitar master Freddy Silva to rising rapper Mo Green, as they reflect on immigration, nostalgia, heritage, and what it means to be Cape Verdean in the United States.

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Listen to Kriolu in New England on Afropop.org


The Other Afro-Latino: Hidden Sounds From Ecuador, Bolivia, and Uruguay

January 2009

Afro-Cuban and Afro-Brazilian musical giants have long enjoyed the spotlight, yet throughout Latin America there are other black enclaves producing some of the New World’s most vibrant music. Their stories have gone untold for far too long. In this episode, Afropop explores these lost sounds, starting in an Ecuadorian desert valley where African and Andean traditions have mixed seamlessly into fiery dance music. Then we’re off to mangrove-studded Esmeraldas to search out the last marimba legends living on the jungle waterways. We continue to Bolivia, where a tiny black minority uses their music to fight for recognition by the indigenous government and last, we’ll listen to the driving carnival music of Uruguay, candombe. Tune in for exclusive interviews and recordings by everyone from marimba master Papa Roncón to Candombe-jazz legend Hugo Fattoruso.

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Listen to The Other Afro-Latino on Afropop.org