All posts by Matthew Lavoie

Waka and Apala from Nigeria

Posted February 18th, 2008 at 11:51 pm (UTC-4)

In 1965, Leo Sarkisian launched the Voice of America radio program ‘Music Time in Africa’, a show that featured traditional and contemporary music from throughout Africa. Today, 43 years later, Music Time is still on the air, presenting, every Saturday and Sunday, music from throughout the continent, to listeners across Africa. It was also in […]

Posted in Nigeria

Musical memories from Cameroon

Posted February 12th, 2008 at 12:35 am (UTC-4)

Yesterday, the Egyptian national soccer team, the Pharoahs, only needed one goal to beat Cameroon’s Indomitable Lions, and win the Africa Cup of Nations for the sixth time. This morning, the Pharaohs-who were the defending champions- returned to Cairo International airport, where they were met by thousands of overjoyed fans. The Cameroonians, meanwhile, returned to […]

Posted in Cameroon

Kadongo Kamu from Uganda

Posted February 5th, 2008 at 12:47 am (UTC-4)

Kadongo Kamu, or ‘one guitar music’, is a style of narrative song from central Uganda that dates back to the early 1950s. Over the last fifty years the genre has gone through many transformations, but has never strayed from its central purpose: communicating traditional wisdom and morals through anecdotes, stories, and social commentary. The earliest […]

Posted in Uganda

Tendé from Niger

Posted January 28th, 2008 at 11:40 pm (UTC-4)

One of the great pleasures of working at the Voice of America is the letters, pictures and cassettes that our listeners send us from throughout Africa (in the future I’ll devote a post to some of the home-recordings we have received). Last week I saw this beautiful snapshot of a listener from northern Niger on […]

Posted in Niger

The music of Mauritania, Part One.

Posted January 23rd, 2008 at 12:12 am (UTC-4)

The Islamic Republic of Mauritania is where West Africa and the Maghreb meet- a huge, sparsely populated, country-stretching between Morocco and Senegal, Mali and the Atlantic ocean. The country’s name comes from its dominant ethnic group, the Moors (Maures in French), and it is their nomadic traditions and culture that give Mauritania its unique character. […]

Unreleased recording of the Cuban Marimba Band

Posted January 14th, 2008 at 11:39 pm (UTC-4)

In early 1973 the Public Affairs Officer at the United States Information Agency office in Tanzania received a request from David Wakati of Radio Tanzania. Mr. Wakati had previously worked at the Voice of America in Washington D.C. and later became the director of broadcasting at Radio Tanzania, from 1979 to 1991. Radio Tanzania needed […]

Posted in Tanzania

Music from Burkina Faso

Posted January 7th, 2008 at 11:36 pm (UTC-4)

Today I’m going to take you back to the 1960s (and early 1970s) with some great music from Burkina Faso.   Let’s start with L’Harmonie Voltaique, the group that was founded by Antoine Ouedraogo in 1948. They were the first group created to play ‘modern music’ in what was then the French West African colony […]

Posted in Burkina Faso

Orchestre Bantous rarities from 1961

Posted December 27th, 2007 at 12:50 am (UTC-4)

Today I have got a few tracks from one of my favorite recordings in our collection for you. The tape (reel) in question was sent to the Voice of America by the US embassy in Brazzaville back in October of 1961. A memo accompanying the tapes (the Bantous reel was accompanied by an Orchestre Novelty […]

Recent nuggets from the Cote D’Ivoire

Posted December 17th, 2007 at 10:40 pm (UTC-4)

Over the last several years it has been difficult to escape music from the Cote D’Ivoire. Throughout all of West Africa, and much of the rest of the continent, it seems like every nightclub and radio station has been going heavy on the Coupe Decaler and it’s many offshoots (the grippe aviare, the decaler chinois, […]

Posted in Cote D'Ivoire

Welcome to the Blog…our first treasures from the Archive

Posted November 30th, 2007 at 7:33 pm (UTC-4)

Over the last year I have gone through a lot of African music blogs and discovered a lot of forgotten African music, and this collective effort of dozens of netizens has inspired me to share our large collection with other music lovers (to read more about the collection, and see some pictures, click on the […]

Posted in Rwanda



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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