Blog December 1, 2021
Looking Back on 2021, Forward to 2022

Thanks to you, Afropop Worldwide has navigated another year of pandemicmonium! Despite shifting circumstances, we have managed to stay connected with—and even visit—a variety of music scenes and communities, advancing our mission to bring the music and stories of Africa and the African diaspora to American public radio and the Web. Georges Collinet and our global team send deep thanks to all our loyal supporters. As we wrap up our Peabody Award-winning radio program’s 33rd year on the public airwaves, we remain focused on the crucial work artists are doing to address the pandemic and highlight advances and setbacks in racial, gender and environmental justice. With your continued support, we will remain an essential voice in moving our country and our world toward a better place in 2022.

One silver lining of the COVID era has been the widespread adaptation of Zoom. This technology has allowed us to connect with artists in their studios and homes in Lagos, Nairobi, Kinshasa, Bamako and beyond. Still, Afropop has always been about going directly to the scene, and we’ve taken every safe opportunity to do that, with live recordings and interviews at Miami’s Afro-Roots Fest in May, spending time at the Nyege Nyege Villa—a burgeoning hub of ground-breaking musical innovation in Kampala, Uganda—and most recently, working the WOMEX trade fair in Porto, Portugal, a global hub that provided new connections with artists and cultural activists from Senegal, Ivory Coast, Cuba, Colombia, Angola and throughout Europe’s African diaspora communities. In short, the calamity of COVID has not stopped us.

Meanwhile, we continue to digitize our massive media archive. We preserved another 100 hours of at-risk recordings from our early field work. These recordings have provided rich content for retrospective programming, including a podcast on my 1985 interview with the late Congolese legend Franco, and a deep dive into the legacy of Baba Sora Sissoko, one of the most generous and mysterious patrons of the arts West Africa has seen in the last century. Other program highlights include “New Moves in African Jazz,” two deep dives into new music from Brazil, also “Reggae Pioneers Bunny Lee, U Roy and King Tubby,” “Changui!” a long hidden musical gem from Eastern Cuba, and “The Black History of the Banjo,” which was picked up as a special on a number of public radio stations that do not regularly carry our program.

As promised, we have continued to bring new and more diverse voices into our productions, notably Zimbawean-Australian producer and broadcaster DJ Kix, who has produced two excellent programs on emerging music in Australia and Zimbabwe, and is now at work on a special for International Women's Month in March 2022. This fall, we surveyed our audience to gauge interest in a new digital platform, providing subscription-based services including access to our field archive, curated music playlists, live events and more. The results were encouraging, and we will have more to say about this soon.

All of this positions us well to face the realities of 2022, but we are going to need your help. Our priority remains to forge new directions in our productions—podcasts, youth-oriented programming, especially with links to social justice movements, and coverage of the burgeoning explosion of new music emerging from the lands we have covered all these years. As we look to 2022, our goals are clear and straightforward:

  • To produce a new season of current programs and podcasts. Radio program episodes cost between $4,000 - $8,000; podcasts $1500 - $3000.

  • To continue and accelerate the processing of our archive, and move ahead with plans to develop and go public with a digital content platform.

  • To continue work with the Rock and Roll Forever Foundation and Wesleyan University to create educational curricula based on our archive and network of artists and experts.

  • To enhance our editorial staff adding a young producer/writer dedicated to following the newest music coming out of Africa: Afrobeats, Afro-techno, Zimdancehall, on and on…

These are big challenges, and involve significant investments. But as our world seems more and more inclined to retreat into insular camps, the expansive vision that has driven our work for over three decades feels more important than ever.

Your gift will allow us to move forward on these strategic initiatives at this watershed moment for Afropop Worldwide. We believe our record proves that we will use your support wisely to evolve our productions to the next level and help create a better future for our African planet!

Donations can be made at

Thank you and Happy Holidays!

Sean Barlow, Executive Producer

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