Saturday, December 13, 2008

Congratulations to VOA's African Music Treasures

Which celebrated its one-year anniversary on December 10. The blog is a labor of love by two lovers of African music, Leo Sarkisian and Matthew Lavoie. Sarkisian launched the radio show Music Time in Africa in 1965 (!) a weekly program that features traditional and contemporary music from all of Africa. Almost forty-three years later the program (now the longest running VOA program) is still on the air every weekend, and continues to reach millions of listeners throughout Africa.

Matthew LaVoie has been writing the blog Africa Music Treasures, which features genres, artists, and recordings from throughout Africa that don't get much attention in the music press, on blogs, or by record companies. He draws these from the Music Time archive, a room in the basement of the Cohen building in downtown Washington DC that is overflowing with audio reels (over 10,000), 45 rpm singles, 33 rpm lps, and cassettes from every country in Africa.

Lavoie says that "as I have spent more time going through the reels, vinyl, and cassettes in our archive I have stumbled (literally) on lots of wonderful recordings I had not heard; 45s from Algeria, the Central African Republic, and Mauritius, reels of Burundian Taarab groups from the 1980s, Tunisian Maalouf from the 1960s, or radio recordings from the Comoros, cassettes from Togo, Madagascar, Djibouti, and Chad."

Have a listen to one of the recordings he discovered on a trip to Kinshasa from L'Orchestre Yamba Yamba Beto Ba. The group was founded in Kinshasa by Makengo Makape, and has been together for several decades:

L'Orchestre Yamba Yamba Beto Ba

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