West African Pop Roots

November 1, 2020
West African Pop Roots

Having spent more than twenty years as a performer, manager, andproducer of African music, John Collins brings an insider'sperspective and a personal passion to this account of popular musicin West Africa. He explores the roots of the various styles andgenres and the 'feedback' of black music adapted to the New Worldand returning to Africa to re influence its origins. Collinscelebrates the personalities and sounds of today's music, itsinfluence on an international audience, the African music business,and the cross-fertilization between African music and that of othercultures.Interspersed with his rich descriptions and historicalnarratives are colorful biographical sketches of important Africanmusicians along with a wealth of rare photographs of individualsand bands. With the intention of exposing 'the inner driving forcesof popular music in Africa', Collins delves into the history ofAfrican music, traces its evolution throughout the twentiethcentury, and explores the current 'world beat' explosion.He demonstrates that the enormous energy generated by Africanmusic is in part a result of its polyrhytmic nature and rhythmicspacing, 'the hot sounds and the cool space'. He describes thecomplexities of African rhythms: the cross-beats, the insiderhythm, the varying tempo, the positive and negative sound, and therhythmic dialogue. 'African music', Collins observes, 'is a gestaltof opposites that unifies the up and down-beat, head and feet, theaudience and performer, into the communion of the beat...There is no separation, only universal 'togetherness'."WestAfrican Pop Roots" treats the significant personalities and insidestories of many of its greatest stars, including Manu Dibango withSoul Makossa, E.T. Mensah, Victor Uwaifo, Fela, Youssou N'Dour, andSonny Okosun, among others. Collins describes the global researchfor the African roots of pop, which has attracted such Westernperformers as Ginger Baker, Paul McCartney, Mick Fleetwood, PeterGabriel, Paul Simon, David Byrne, and many others. The authordescribes Africa's world-wide influence on music and dance as 'thenearest thing we have in the twentieth century to a global folkmusic'.John Collins is manager of the Bokoor Recording Studio (Ghana),acting Chairman of the Bokoor African Popular Music ArchivesFoundation, and is on the Ghanaian National Folklore-CopyrightAdministration Board. The author of several books and numerousarticles about African music, he is a doctoral candidate at StateUniversity of New York at Buffalo.