Since the early Eighties the enthusiasm for music from ‘outside’ Western pop culture has been steadily mounting. More and more international artists, many of whom are big stars in their own countries, are coming here on tour. They started off, like The Bhundu Boys, playing small clubs and pubs, but now many acts are so popular that they are packing out larger venues.
The excitement and word-of-mouth appeal is backed up by radio – Andy Kershaw and Charlie Gillett’s shows to name but two… and the demand for recordings of non-Western artists is surely growing. This is where the problems can start for the potential buyer of WORLD MUSIC albums – the High Street record shop hasn’t got the particular record, or even a readily identifiable section to browse through, it doesn’t show in any of the published charts, and at this point all but the most tenacious give up – and who can blame them?
In response to this, representatives from most of the main independent record labels dealing with international/roots music met and agreed to launch a concentrated WORLD MUSIC campaign throughout October. Practically this means that the term WORLD MUSIC will be used to make it easier to find that Malian kora record, the music of Bulgaria, Zairean soukous or Indian Ghazals – the new WORLD MUSIC section will be the first place to look in the local record shop.
For those who like a little bit of everything or would like to sample the wide variety of music the labels have to offer, there will be an NME WORLD MUSIC CASSETTE with a stupendous compilation of tracks taken from all eleven labels… release date October. To keep the public up-to-date with the latest world sounds there’ll be a new WORLD MUSIC CHART published in the music press and on selected national and local radio shows. Live, the already buoyant scene seems to go from strength to strength – THE CROSSING THE BORDER FESTIVAL at the Town & Country Club, London promises seven nights of great entertainment, Super Diamono De Dakar on tour, and the start of the winter season for Arts Worldwide and WOMAD.
Now for the labels involved: Cooking Vinyl, Earthworks, GlobeStyle, Hannibal, Oval, Rogue, Sterns, Triple Earth, Topic, WOMAD, and World Circuit… whilst not all of these labels are devoted exclusively to World Music, they have united to bring recognition to the many diverse forms of music as yet unclassifiable in Western terms. Trying to reach a definition of ‘WORLD MUSIC’ provoked much lengthy discussion and finally it was agreed that it means practically any music that isn’t, at present, catered for by its own category e.g.: Reggae, jazz, blues, folk. Perhaps the most common factor unifying all these WORLD MUSIC labels is the passionate commitment of all the individuals to the music itself.