Radio Africa

African classics: African journey "A search for the roots of the blues"

Reviews of classic recordings from Africa


Volumes 1 and 2

In the early 1970s Samuel Charters travelled to West Africa in order to trace the roots of the blues, especially the "pre-war" style of the 1920s and 1930s. He recorded musicians in Ghana, The Gambia and Senegal, focusing on the music of the professional musicians - the griots. The LP recordings feature two kora tracks by Jali Nyama Suso, plus other songs performed by griots on the balafon and xalam. In addition there are also some superb shaped-note hymns and choral pieces performed by a Ghanaian choir, as well as recordings of street celebrations, Ewe drumming, a Jola dance, plus excellent liner notes and photographs. Originally released through Sonet, it is a pity that these albums have never been re-released on CD, for they form part of an invaluable resource on early recordings of griot music.

Charters also published a book which described his trip through West Africa in detail - 
The Roots 
of the Blues. London: Quartet Books. 1982.


Graeme Counsel © Copyright