Our friends and colleagues at the Peabody Award-winning public program Afropop Worldwide, and afropop.org celebrate their 35th anniversary with an Afropop Dance Party on Friday, November 10 at the famous socialite nightclub SOB’s in New York. In the spotlight, a performance by the legend of Congolese soukous Samba Mapangala and the stars of Soukous. An exhibition of contemporary Congolese art is also presented.
Afropop Worldwide continues its innovative work showcasing the music and stories of artists from Africa and the diaspora. Public radio’s Afropop Worldwide earned its journalistic stripes as the first nationally distributed African music streaming platform in the United States. Their programs continue to present a rich, multi-generational musical context as a prism for artists to address today’s critical issues that define our collective future, including the empowerment of women in the African and diaspora creative industries, governance, climate change and much more.
New to Afropop Worldwide is the bi-weekly podcast Planet Afropop co-hosted by legendary broadcaster Georges Collinet from Cameroon, Mukwae Wabei Siyolwe and Banning Eyre.
For 35 years, Afropop Worldwide has graced the airwaves of National Public Radio (NPR), bringing the vibrant and diverse music of Africa and the African diaspora to a global audience. This anniversary celebrates Afropop Worldwide as one of NPR’s longest-running music programs, a testament to its enduring appeal and important role in shaping the musical narrative of world music productions. The success of Afropop Worldwide is a collective achievement, a crescendo of the efforts of the visionary founders, Georges Collinet and Sean Barlow, the wise advice of Banning Eyre, the enthusiasm of a dedicated staff, the wisdom of the advisors of the board of administration and creativity of countless people. African and Afro-descendant artists. The program’s resonance has been amplified by the support of the National Endowment for the Arts, generous donors and, above all, by loyal listeners from around the world. With Ceyvion Biggs, Director of Operations and New Media, and Mukwae Wabei Siyolwe, Director of Development, Afropop Worldwide is also hitting the right note in the digital space. As he continues to rise “higher and higher”, there is a shared feeling within the Afropop Worldwide community: “Nothing stops us.’ Welcome to the Afropop Worldwide family for 35 incredible years of music, storytelling and cultural celebrations. 🎆🍾🎤🎷🎸🎻🪘🎺🎹🌍💻
Afropop stands as a vibrant testament to the enduring legacy and ever-changing landscape of African music. Afropop.org is a portal to the heart of a continent where rhythm speaks all languages and melody transcends borders. This platform celebrates the rich tapestry of African sound, from traditional rhythms resonating in rural villages to contemporary pulses resonating in bustling metropolises.
Afropop.org offers a multimedia experience that includes engaging articles, podcasts and a huge range of music. Here, music lovers, scholars and the simply curious can explore the depths of African musical traditions and their global influence.
Afropop around the world
Afropop Worldwide was born from the vision of music journalist Sean Barlow, who in the late 1980s recognized the lack of representation of African music in the Western media landscape. In partnership with co-producer Banning Eyre, they launched the radio program with the aim of showcasing the diversity of African music. This groundbreaking show became the cornerstone of what would later become Afropop.org, with both platforms dedicated to exploring the musical heritage of the African continent.
The rhythm of Afropop
The heart of Afropop lies in its commitment to storytelling. It doesn’t just feature music; he weaves narratives that connect the notes to the people, places and stories that gave rise to them. The site features in-depth interviews with iconic African musicians, spotlights emerging artists, and provides critical reviews that guide visitors through the vast expanse of the African music scene.
One might find a retrospective on Fela Kuti’s afrobeat legacy alongside a review of a new album by an emerging Congolese rapper. It could be a photo essay capturing the vibrant energy of Dakar’s nightlife or an investigative piece on how digital platforms are transforming the way African music is distributed and consumed.
Cultural exchange and influence
Afropop is not just about African music in Africa; it’s also about the continent’s musical diaspora. The site explores how African sounds have influenced genres like jazz, hip-hop and reggae, and conversely, how global trends are shaping contemporary African music. It is a celebration of exchange and influence, showing how African music is both a global force and a local expression.
What sets Afropop apart is its interactive engagement with its audience. Listeners can immerse themselves in curated playlists, watch performances and documentaries, and contribute to discussions on social media platforms. The organization offers thematic series that offer a more comprehensive look at particular genres or regions, such as the Sahel Sounds project or a spotlight on Afro-Caribbean music.
For educators and students, Afropop provides a rich educational resource. Its extensive library of articles, interviews and music videos provides a valuable tool for understanding the social, political and cultural contexts that shape African music. It not only entertains, but also informs and educates, bridging gaps and strengthening understanding through the universal language of music.
The future soundscape
The proliferation of streaming and social media thrust African artists into an unprecedented spotlight, giving rise to what producers called the “Afro-Atlantic world.” This cultural tapestry stretches across countries such as Cuba, Brazil, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Trinidad and Haiti, and extends into vibrant cities such as Paris, London, Lisbon, Miami and New York.
Afropop is not only dedicated to celebrating renowned artists; it actively brings emerging talents to the forefront, ensuring the rich heritage of African music continues into the future. Serving as a vibrant narrative for a continent where music remains an indomitable force of expression, unity and transformation, Afropop connects history to contemporary movements. It is this connection that positions Afropop not only as a chronicler of a musical past, but also as a vital heartbeat that keeps African rhythms palpable and omnipresent across the world for future generations.