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Accounting for Taste


When we talk about the influence of American performers on African music, we usually think about a few obvious examples, legends like Michael Jackson, Jimi Hendrix or James Brown. In this episode, we go beyond these stars to explore the legacy of some lesser-known inspirations. We’ll learn how the fluid guitar playing of ’70s rock band Dire Straits became massively popular in the Sahel, influencing Tuareg rockers like Tinariwen and Tamikrest. We’ll hear about the American country superstar Jim Reeves’ African career, and the unlikely story of how the pedal steel made it from Hawaii to Lagos. Finally, we’ll travel to Angola with the help of director Jeremy Xido, to explore that nation’s death metal scene. And along the way, we will try to understand just how to account for taste. Produced by Sam Backer with help from Jesse Brent.

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Pedal Steel Primer 


Uchenna Ikonne on Country Music in Nigeria 

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  • Peter Foster

    Brilliant! I’m a massive Dire Straits fan and I find it fascinating to hear how popular and influential their music has been in the Sahara. I also enjoy the music of Jim Reeves, probably some of the whitest of white music. It’s amazing that this is appreciated in Nigeria. Music is truly an international language. The Anglo/Celtic and African musical styles and traditions that were fused into Country and Blues are shown to have turned full circle in this excellent broadcast.

  • Kathleen Gillogly

    Please, what was that Tamikrest song? I’d love to have links to this music on YouTube or even for where we could buy it.

    • Afropop Worldwide

      The song is called Imanin Bas Zihoun, from Tamikrest’s 2012 album Chatma.