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African Popular Music


Subject Imperial, Colonial, and Postcolonial History » Postcolonial History

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781444334982.2016.x


In recent years, the coverage of African popular music has grown from passionate journalistic expositions into a field of serious academic inquiry. This radical shift stems from the realization that popular music is much more than dance entertainment. It is a critical site for the production and expression of modern African identity and culture. The early work of Gary Stewart, Graeme Ewens, and Ronnie Graham (1988) grew from magazine pieces to biographies of popular musicians providing critical impetus for the kind of academic inquiry that has been opened up by Wolfgang Bender (1991) , Kelly Askew (2002) , Frank Tenaille (2002) , and Tejumola Olaniyan (2004) , although the earlier pieces by John Low (1982) and John Collins ( Collins and Moore 1985 ) signaled the potential for extensive research on African popular music. While the oral literatures of precolonial Africa are replete with creative texts and colorful performances commenting on everyday activities and facilitating the observance of various rituals, communal beliefs, and moral teachings, the innovative genius of postcolonial musicians has lent a dynamic mobility and compelling currency to the field of popular music, making it a tool for moral censure, identity formation, economic enterprise, political mobilization, and radical protests against inequity and oppressive regimes. Opinion on the definition of African ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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