All posts by Matthew Lavoie

Papa Ntita Albert, Mbuji Mayi, 2011

Posted April 14th, 2011 at 11:31 pm (UTC-4)

I have just returned from a month in the Democratic Republic of the Congo that confirmed my long held conviction that the DRC is the most musical country on the planet. Often called the beating heart of Central Africa, Kinshasa―despite the city’s many problems―remains obsessed with music. From thousands of churches, from the bars of […]

Khadija al Bidawiya: Queen of Al-Aita Marsawiya

Posted February 24th, 2011 at 9:27 pm (UTC-4)

Hello again!  I am happy to announce that, after a brief hiatus, African Music Treasures is back with a new design—let me know what you think—and more musical gems to share with you.  First up: the long promised Khadija el Bidawiya feature. Khadija el Bidawiya was born in 1953, in Ben Msik Sbata, the densely […]

Posted in Morocco

The Harlem Band of Kinshasa

Posted September 15th, 2010 at 8:44 pm (UTC-4)

Most of the time I have found recently to devote to this blog has, unfortunately, been devoted to working on a redesign of the site. This has meant that I have had less time to finish the several long posts I have promised, and that I have been working on. The good news is that, […]

Yandé Codou Sène, R.I.P.

Posted August 4th, 2010 at 5:31 pm (UTC-4)

On July 15, while much of the planet was still recovering from World Cup fever, the news came from Dakar that Yandé Codou Sène, one of Senegal’s greatest traditional singers, had passed away. Known for her long association with the late President Léopold Sédar Senghor and for her commitment to Serere culture, Yandé Codou was […]

Posted in Senegal

S.E. Rogie, the VOA outtakes

Posted June 29th, 2010 at 8:46 pm (UTC-4)
1 comment

I am one of those suckers who love massive box sets stuffed full of twelve versions of the same song, of endless alternate takes, and mumbled studio chatter. I am particularly fond of false starts, missed cues, flubbed notes and botched recordings. Listening to these by-products of the recording process makes it possible to isolate […]

Posted in Sierra Leone

Khadija al Bidaouia Teaser

Posted June 1st, 2010 at 8:34 pm (UTC-4)

I first heard the music of Khadija al Bidaouia back in the mid 1990s and I soon became obsessed with her strident voice and the rhythmic punch of her music. Fifteen years later my love for her music has not diminished. I have just returned from a trip to Morocco, and am pleased to report […]

Posted in Morocco

The Hard Mbalax of Ouzin Ndiaye

Posted April 28th, 2010 at 9:16 pm (UTC-4)

Most articles on Senegalese music identify Youssou N’Dour as the man who put the mbalax rhythm on the map, who created an internationally identifiable Senegalese musical ‘brand’. And while Youssou’s many accomplishments can never be underestimated, his music remains somewhat atypical, more soigné than the ‘hard mbalax’ that packs Dakar’s dance floors weekend after weekend. […]

Posted in Senegal

The Orchestre Novelty de Brazzaville

Posted April 8th, 2010 at 10:15 pm (UTC-4)

Many of the most interesting recordings in our archives are frustratingly mysterious; they have no track listings, no recording dates, no recording location, and no list of band members. One of the more enigmatic tapes in our collection is a reel sent to us from the United States Information Service Officer in Brazzaville back in […]

Unreleased Ali Farka Toure & Khaira Arby

Posted March 8th, 2010 at 10:52 pm (UTC-4)

This past week, in preparing a radio program featuring the final recordings of Ali Farka Toure, I stumbled on an unusual tape that I immediately wanted to share with you all. Have you ever wondered, when listening to Ali Farka Toure’s CDs, what it would be like to just hear him play-not trying to nail […]

Posted in Mali

Benin Roots-Alekpehanhou and Gbessi

Posted February 4th, 2010 at 4:05 pm (UTC-4)

Benin, with artists like Angelique Kidjo, the T.P. Orchestre Poly-Rhythmo, Lionel Loueke, and the Gangbé brass band, is a small country that continues to punch above its weight on the international music scene. All of these aforementioned artists, each in their own ways, have drawn inspiration from Benin’s mother lode of traditional music; a diverse […]

Posted in Benin



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.

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