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The Musical Legacy of Africa: Afropop’s Heartbeat

Our friends and colleagues at the Peabody Award-winning public program Afropop Worldwide and afropop.org are celebrating their 35th anniversary with an Afropop Dance Party on Friday, November 10th at the renowned, worldly night club SOB’s in New York City. Featured will be a performance by Congolese soukous legend Samba Mapangala and the Soukous Stars. Also featured is an exhibition of contemporary Congolese art.

Afropop Worldwide continues its ground-breaking work of presenting the music and stories of artists from Africa and the diaspora. Public radio’s Afropop Worldwide earned its journalistic stripes by being the first U.S. nationally distributed broadcast platform for African music. Their programs continue to present rich, multi-generational context to the music as a prism for artists to address today’s critical issues that define our collective futures including women’s empowerment in the African and diaspora creative industries, governance, climate change and more.

New from 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 its significant role in shaping the musical narrative of world music productions. The success of Afropop Worldwide is a collective achievement, a crescendo of efforts from the visionary founders, Georges Collinet and Sean Barlow, the insightful guidance of Banning Eyre, the enthusiasm of a dedicated staff, the wisdom of board advisors, and the creativity of countless African and Afro-descendent artists. The program’s resonance has been amplified by the support of the National Endowment for the Arts, generous donors, and, importantly, the loyal listeners tuning in from every corner of the globe. Together with Ceyvion Biggs, Director of Operations and New Media, alongside Mukwae Wabei Siyolwe, Director of Development, Afropop Worldwide is hitting all the right notes in the digital realm as well. As it continues to rise ‘higher and higher,’ there’s a shared sentiment in the Afropop Worldwide community: ‘Ain’t nothing stopping us.’ Here’s to the Afropop Worldwide global family for 35 incredible years of music, storytelling, and cultural celebration. 🎆🍾🎤🎷🎸🎻🪘🎺🎹🌍💻


Afropop stands as a vibrant testament to the enduring legacy and ever-evolving landscape of African music. Afropop.org is a portal into the heart of a continent where rhythm speaks every language, and melody transcends borders. This platform celebrates the rich tapestry of African sound, from the traditional beats echoing through rural villages to the contemporary pulses resonating in bustling metropolises.

Afropop.org offers a multimedia experience that includes engaging articles, podcasts, and a vast array of music. Here, music lovers, scholars, and the simply curious can explore the depths of African musical traditions and their global influence.

Afropop Worldwide

Afropop Worldwide emerged from the vision of music journalist Sean Barlow, who, in the late 1980s, recognized the lack of representation for African music in the Western media landscape. Partnering 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 for what would later evolve into Afropop.org, with both platforms dedicated to the exploration of the African continent’s musical heritage.

The Beat of Afropop

The heart of Afropop lies in its commitment to storytelling. It doesn’t just present music; it weaves narratives that connect the notes to the people, places, and histories that birthed 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 sitting alongside a review of a new album by an emerging Congolese rapper. There 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 delves into 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, showcasing how African music is both a global force and a local expression.

Interactive Engagement

What sets Afropop apart is its interactive engagement with its audience. Listeners can delve into curated playlists, watch performances and documentaries, and contribute to discussions on social media platforms. The organization features 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.

Educational Resource

For educators and students, Afropop serves as a rich educational resource. Its vast library of articles, interviews, and music clips provides an invaluable 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 building understanding through the universal language of music.

The Future Soundscape

The proliferation of streaming and social media has catapulted African artists into an unprecedented spotlight, giving rise to what producers have termed the “Afro-Atlantic world.” This cultural tapestry stretches across countries including 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 City.

Afropop is dedicated to more than the celebration of renowned artists; it actively brings emerging talents to the forefront, ensuring the rich heritage of African music advances into the future. Serving as a vibrant narrative for a continent where music remains an indomitable force of expression, unity, and transformation, Afropop bridges history with contemporary movements. It’s this connection that positions Afropop not just as a chronicler of a musical past, but as a vital heartbeat that keeps African rhythms palpable and pervasive across the globe for future generations.

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