Afropop principles Georges Collinet, Sean Barlow, and Banning Eyre made a trip up to Canton, New York, last weekend to commune with friends and listeners at North Country Public Radio. With 8 stations, and over 30 transmitters nestled in the hills and valleys of the Adirondack Mountains, NCPR is a model of rural public radio. It’s a community building force, and in times of trouble, a lifeline. Afropop is especially proud to have been on these airwaves for our entire 25 year career. So it was worth a long drive to share stories and music with loyal listeners.
The event went down on the campus of St Lawrence University. It began with a multi-media presentation by Banning Eyre on Afropop’s Hip Deep projects in Egypt and Lebanon. Banning went deep with politics, history, music, and social realities, and a nearly full auditorium stayed with him every step of the way, asking probing questions and adding insights of their own. These folks seemed totally relate to the Hip Deep concept–the idea that music is encoded history, and that if you listen closely and ask the right questions, there’s no limit to what music can teach you. (Thanks to the New York State Counsil for the Humanities for their support of this event. And thanks to the NEH for their funding of Hip Deep on air and on line since its beginning in 2003.)
Next, NCPR’s David Sommerstein (the evening’s host) then introduced Afropop host and legendary Cameroonian broadcaster Georges Collinet. Georges delighted the crowd with stories of his early days at the Voice of America, his own extensive travels in Africa, and his undaunted enthusiasm for Afropop Worldwide after 25 years at the microphone.
Then it was time to dance. The chairs were swept away, the bar opened, and the music played for hours, with a slide show of images from 25 years of Afropop field work were projected on a huge screen above the DJ stand.
Sean Barlow–a.k.a. Prince Segue Segue–traded off DJ sets with David Sommerstein, who hosts his own world music show The Beat Authority, on NCPR. David credited APWW with introducing him to untold worlds of music, and the vibe between the two DJs was excellent. The music ranged from classics of Congo and Nigeria to African salsa, and the latest club grooves. This crowd, which doesn’t get a lot of local African music, went for all of it.
For the Afropop team, this was a splendid opportunity to meet listeners and share experiences and music. We need more of this!