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World Famous

Anne Hunt
Photo: Ian Anderson
Anne Hunt
The Bhundu Boys were, thanks to John Peel and Andy Kershaw, being played on BBC Radio 1. Charlie Gillett (and earlier the late Alexis Korner) were also broadcasting an eclectic range of music. Even Terry Wogan had played Bulgarian folk music. Then, shortly after the meeting which meant that Salif Keita’s recordings would henceforth be filed under ‘world music’, Stern’s released his seminal and wide-selling album Soro.

He came here to tour, playing to packed houses, as did many other musicians who were gigging here regularly like Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. This was before email and mobile phones made communication easier. Musicians were often introduced here because people like Lucy Duran went to places like Mali and found them, inspiring others too, as film-maker and one of Womad’s initiators, Mark Kidel remembers: “I heard, thanks to the totally indispensable world treasure Lucy Duran, Kassemady and Lafia Diabate play ngoni and sing together in Keyla under the stars, with an audience of just three of us Europeans, entranced.”

A lot of the successful touring circuit was thanks to the tireless work of Anne Hunt and Mary Farquharson who worked together at Arts Worldwide, an organisation set up by Anne in 1982, as she told me recently, “to give amazing musicians from other cultures a platform in this country”. (It was Anne who went to Mali and found Ali Farka Toure.) She also set up World Circuit Records, to put out the music of the artists she was working with, hiring subsequent director Nick Gold to help out through a YTS training scheme.

There was clearly an audience and a market for the music that was not reflected in its sales. As Joe Boyd says, “A few small record labels, mine among them, were struggling to get shops to stock ‘foreign’ LPs. They tended to consign them to ‘Ethnic’ or ‘International Folk’ or something very unsexy.” “We simply wanted to figure out how to sell more records,” recalls Amanda Jones from Real World.

fRom fRoots 289, July 2007


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