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The Wire's Clarke Peters uncovers the stories of black musicians in Europe, from the birth of recorded sound to the height of the jazz age.

The Wire's Clarke Peters draws on a rare collection of archive recordings to explore a forgotten musical history.

Received wisdom has it that black popular music arrived in Europe with the Empire Windrush in 1948, but Clarke brings us black sounds recorded in Europe from as far back as 1900.

Focusing on early commercial discs made in the recording studios of London, Paris and Berlin, we hear from dozens of different performers, including African American travelling entertainers, traditional African musicians, black British classical composers and more.

Episode 1 - 1900-1910
Clarke discovers a huge variety of black music recorded in Europe at the start of the 20th century, including very early examples of blues harmonica, scat singing and stride piano. The programme also includes some of the earliest African music ever recorded, from Senegalese war songs captured at the Paris World Fair in 1900 to the music of a troupe of Congolese pygmies who toured Britain in 1905-07.

Much of the music in this series is drawn from Black Europe, a vast boxset issued by Bear Family Records and documenting the sounds of the era.
With readings by Paterson Joseph.

Produced by Tom Woolfenden
A Loftus Media production for BBC Radio 4.

Available now

28 minutes

Last on

Tue 19 Dec 2017 21:30

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