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Sept. 29th: Afropop’s Icons & Innovators Benefit Party in D.C.


Afropop Worldwide, in partnership with Timothy and Shigeko Bork, will host its inaugural Icons & Innovators Benefit Party  at the historic Friendship House in Georgetown, Washington, D.C. on Thursday, September 29, 6-9 p.m.


Afropop Worldwide is the Peabody Award-winning public radio series hosted by Georges Collinet that since 1988 has introduced listeners to the powerful music and inspiring stories of Africa and its diasporas. PRI distributes the program to over 100 stations in U.S. and it is available on demand via, Soundcloud, and iTunes.

The Afropop Icon honoree is Congo-born soukous legend Samba Mapangala. His group, Orchestra Virunga, is one of the classic dance bands from the Golden Age of African music.

The Media Icon honoree is Cameroonian radio personality Georges Collinet, who captivated tens of millions of fans in Africa as host of programs in both English and French on the Voice of America from 1965-98, and who also is the beloved host of public radio’s Afropop Worldwide from 1988 to the present.

The Artist Innovator honoree is Nigerian visual artist Laolu Senbanjo, who did the eye-catching body painting for Beyoncé’s Emmy-nominated Lemonade visual album, and whose work formed part of the BET International/Grammy Museum’s Sounds of Africa exhibit.

Co-chaired by Jeffrey Sturchio, Chairman of the Corporate Council on Africa, Stephen Hendel, Producer of FELA! on Broadway, and philanthropist Rosemary Pritzker, Icons & Innovators will bring together leaders in African entertainment, arts, media, business and politics, and the D.C. metro area’s diverse African diaspora community to celebrate over a quarter-century of Afropop Worldwide, connecting the world to Africa and the diaspora through world-class music and inspiring stories.

The party also marks the return of the Afropop radio program to airwaves in the Washington area, via D.C.’s newest public radio stations: WOWD, 94.3 FM in Takoma Park, MD, and WERA, 96.7 in Arlington, V.A. Says WOWD’s founder and former NPR producer Marika Partridge, “For WOWD, Afropop Worldwide is a local show.  Host Georges Collinet lives near here and stops in to share stories and music, especially vinyl gems. In this Afrocentric city, we are proud to carry the show twice a week.” Afropop airs on WOWD Mondays 10-11 a.m. and Thursdays 3-4 p.m. and on WERA Sunday evenings from 10 to 11.

The Icons & Innovators Benefit Party will celebrate this exceptional work by acknowledging icons who have helped shape the field and individuals who are the leading innovators of today and tomorrow. The evening’s festivities will include a rare acoustic performance by Mapangala and a live demonstration of Senbanjo’s Sacred Art of the Ori body painting. Guests who purchase tickets for the V.I.P. reception will have the added opportunity to be painted by Senbanjo.

Afropop’s Executive Director and Founder Sean Barlow says, “Afropop is a bridge between the Golden Age of African music which continues in today’s vibrant roots pop and the phenomenally successful youth music now sweeping the continent and making inroads worldwide. This is a pivotal moment in Afropop’s growth. Proceeds from the benefit will support our move to new, mobile-friendly digital platforms, ongoing programming with a focus on music’s role in social justice initiatives, and major research trips in 2017 to Nigeria, Jamaica and Cuba, revealing the burgeoning and diverse musics of these cultural titans.”

Afropop is delighted to hold its Icons & Innovators Benefit Party in Georgetown’s Friendship House, a national landmark once used to entertain presidents, members of Congress, and ambassadors. Timothy and Shigeko Bork, the current owners, have continued this tradition by hosting events for African government and business leaders as well as key Africa-related U.S.-based institutions.

General admission tickets for Icons & Innovators are $100; and 6-7 p.m. V.I.P. Reception tickets are $250. Tickets can be purchased at For inquiries, please contact Sheriden Booker: 718-398-2733 |

Founded in 1988 by Sean Barlow, Afropop Worldwide was the first ongoing national media showcase in the U.S. devoted to contemporary African music. The program, hosted by broadcast personality Georges Collinet from Cameroon, introduced American listeners to musical giants such as Salif Keita, Angelique Kidjo, Franco, Khaled, Brenda Fassie, Thomas Mapfumo, Gilberto Gil, Los Van Van and many many more. In 1990, the program changed from Afropop to Afropop Worldwide, expanding its vision to include the music and cultures of the entire African diaspora, taking listeners on radio journeys from Mali to Madagascar and Congo to Cuba. The sub-series Hip Deep, launched in 2003, uses music as a lens to investigate the movement of people and ideas through history, religion, and politics. The program is distributed by Public Radio International (PRI) to over 100 stations across the U.S. and globally via podcast and streaming at, iTunes, SoundCloud, and other platforms. Afropop has also launched a Web-based education initiative entitled “The Story of Samba at the Dawn of Modern Brazil” ( In honor of its outstanding contributions to American media, Afropop received a Peabody Institutional Award in 2015. For more information, visit


More on Georges Collinet: Collinet began his radio career at the Voice of America in 1965 when his personality-driven shows in English and French skyrocketed him to fame, earning fans in the tens of millions across the continent. Many Africans heard James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, and other greats for the first time thanks to Collinet. In 1988, Collinet came full circle as host of public radio’s Afropop Worldwide where he introduced American listeners to the greats of African music. In a wide ranging career, Collinet has also worked as a recording artist, produced numerous films and videos, launched publications, hosted star-studded events and led media training workshops around the world.


More on Samba Mapangala: Mapangala and his group Orchestra Virunga are one of the classic dance bands from the Golden Age of African music. Known and loved for his astounding voice throughout East Africa and beyond for 30 years, Samba created an innovative blend of the best Congolese rumba and soukous with an earthier Kenyan style. His 1984 song and CD of the same name, Malako Disco, is regularly included in lists of the top all-time African recordings. Mapangala relocated to the U.S. in 1997. He and his band perform at festivals in North America, Europe and Africa. Mapangala’s latest album is Maisha Ni Matamu (Life Is Sweet).


More on Laolu Senbanjo: Senbanjo is a Yoruba visual artist, musician, and human rights lawyer originally from Ilorin, Nigeria. Senbanjo is the celebrated creator of the “Afromysterics” style of art, which transcends artistic media and articulates how the mysteries of music, sound, visual patterns, and forms connect in African thought for a new generation. In addition to Beyoncé’s Lemonade visual album and the BET International/Grammy Museum’s Sounds of Africa exhibit, his work has been featured as part of the Masters of Air/Nike Air Max Conference NYC and Equinox Fitness’ #Committed Campaign, and on CNN, Vogue, Huffington Post, ABC, FOX, BBC, Elle, and more.

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Afropop Worldwide hosts inaugural Icons & Innovators Benefit Party Sept. 29 in Washington D.C. honoring Laolu Senbanjo, Samba Mapangala and Georges Collinet. #afropopicons #afropopinnovators  #afropopbenefit2016

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