Listeners and lost nuggets

Posted February 26th, 2009 at 9:19 pm (UTC-4)

I am just about to head out of town for a few weeks and I haven’t had the time to wrap up several features I have been working on. I had hoped in particular to post, before I left, a piece on Dahmane el Harrachi, one of the greats of Algerian music, most of whose recordings are now, frustratingly, very difficult to come by.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, perhaps the greatest reward of being a broadcaster is the feedback you get from your listeners. I broadcast nine different radio programs each week, in both English and French, which are followed by listeners-on shortwave, mediumwave, and fm- in over 30 countries. In ways that often surprise me, and always move me, I get to share many intimate and mysterious moments with millions of strangers throughout Africa.

Music, and music programs, elicit emotional responses and attachments that are different from other radio shows, or television programs: I am obviously biased but, can there be any greater small pleasure in life than hearing a radio DJ play the song you’ve requested, after the anticipation of the wait, the joy of hearing a favorite song played just for you, while simultaneously being able to share it with millions of other listeners.

Over the years I have received pictures from listeners throughout Africa, I cherish them all and, in lieu of the Algerian feature I had hoped to post, I thought I’d share a few of my favorites with you.

Listeners often send us pictures of their radio receivers, the magic boxes that bring them the music, and this snapshot is one of my favorites.

I could fill a scrapbook with the fantastic pictures Nigerian listeners have sent. This picture has been on my refrigerator for many seasons.

Mr. Onuorah Matthew O. McSteve of Nsukka sent a beautiful series of formal portraits and candid snapshots.

Mrs. Raliyetu Salihu and Mr. Abubakar Yakubu recently got married in Kogi State Nigeria and this picture was included in a poster they printed for the wedding guests.

This young listener from Ghana listens to Music Time in Africa every Saturday evening.

Pierre Boubré from Burkina Faso wrote me a long letter telling me about his favorite music and he kindly included this picture of himself.

Mr. Abiy Asnake from Nazareth, Ethiopia just sent me this portrait last month.

Magellan Bin Mbuta sent this picture from Goma, in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, several years ago.

Mr. Anthony Pinnell, of Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, is a devoted shortwave radio listener. Several times a year he sends us notes of encouragement written on wonderful homemade cards.

I thought I’d end with a few ‘outtakes’ from the last year of blogging. These are all tracks that I love and have wanted to feature on the site. For different reasons-no information, slightly distorted recordings, etc…- I did not post them.

First, an unreleased early Radio Mali recording of one of my favorite Ali Farka Toure songs. He rerecorded this one for his World Circuit CD Niafunke.

I still have not indentified the artists in this song. It is another recording that was made by Radio Mali. I have always loved the melody and the relaxed delivery.

  • [audio:] Mali ‘Badalabourou’

These next two tracks come off a reel that was sent to the Voice of America from our embassy, in what was then Zaire, back in the 1970s. For my money, the Mutuashi is one of the toughest grooves on the planet. This is the root of all modern Luba music-think Tshala Muana. The second track is a sweet Kikongo guitar rumba.

  • [audio:] Troupe Luba ‘Mutuashi’
  • [audio:] Groupe Kikongo

This final track is from the same reel as the tracks featured in the Ethiopia post. It didn’t ‘make the cut’ but is charming nonetheless.

  • [audio:] Ayele Mamo

I’ll be back in a few weeks. Thanks as always for your time, help, support and encouragement.

11 responses to “Listeners and lost nuggets”

  1. Anonymous says:

    These are exceptional tracks. Love the pictures.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Those are some fine photos! And I enjoyed the selection of tracks as I always do. Bon voyage, Matt, and I’ll look forward to your next post.

  3. Anonymous says:

    My cuz recently turned me on to your show & blog. I just wanted to say bravo and to keep it going.

    I’m a dedicated crate digger back in the States, and avid collector of all kinds of African music. Here’s a recent mix:

  4. Anonymous says:

    Great stuff – where can we buy the T-shirt!? Funny coincidence: I bought two Dahmane El Harrachi cassettes in Brussels last Friday without knowing who he was – the cover looked kinda interesting … Haven’t listened to them yet though – still shrinkwrapped … Looking forward to the post!

  5. Anonymous says:

    SUMj, thanks for the link to the mix!!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Hi Matt,

    The Mali Badalabourou recording brought some tears. I could nt
    help it after hearing such pure and honest music (although I do not
    understand the words).

    I am playing this all day. It is rich food for my soul.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Hello Augustine,
    yeah, the badalabourou track is one of the most moving West African tracks I have heard. It is like a perfect circle… nothing can be added or removed. I’ll try and get a translation of the lyrics up soon.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I only get the chance to listen to your program when i am in Accra. Am now in Kumasi, how can i listen to the show cause am simply in love with it.

  9. Anonymous says:

    MALI Badalabourou.
    Matthew, look for Bandalabourou, in Ali Farka – Radio Malí and you will find all the complette story of this beutiful Poular song, but singing by Ali himself.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Hello Ngoni,
    Thanks very much for steering me to this source that I overlooked!!! I will read the notes this evening.
    best matthew

  11. Exceptional post. I was checking constantly this weblog and I’m impressed! Really helpful data specially the last part I care for such information much. I was seeking this particular details for a long time. Thank you and greatest of luck.



Heather Maxwell produces and hosts the award-winning radio program “Music Time in Africa” and is the African Music Editor for the Voice of America. Heather is an ethnomusicologist with Doctorate and Master’s degrees from Indiana University specializing in African Music. She is also an accomplished jazz and Afrojazz/Afrosoul vocalist and has been working, researching, and performing in Africa and the U.S. since 1987.

The Leo Sarkisian African Music Collection >>

Latest Selection

Sidebar Playlist

Listen to Archived Music from 2007-2013