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Charlie Gillett's 'World 2003'

The BBC's Charlie Gillett in the studio.
The BBC's Charlie Gillett in the studio.
Cover for the CD 'World 2003'
Cover for the CD 'World 2003'

Veteran BBC Radio host Charlie Gillett returns to Weekend Edition to tell NPR's Scott Simon about his fourth world music compilation, World 2003. He discusses the artists, nations and trends reflected on the double CD, and how he chose the songs.

For this latest collection, Gillett drew on music from Kenya, Spain, Canada, West Africa and Russia, among other far-flung destinations. Some of the artists are well-established in their home countries and others, like recent Gillett favorite Weird MC, are unsigned.

A female Nigerian rap artist born in England, Weird MC has worked primarily as a backing vocalist, but she sent Gillet a demo of her own material. He gave it a spin and listener response was immediate. World 2003 represents Weird MC's first commercially available solo recording.

Over the past decade, Gillett has witnessed a growing cross-cultural influence in world music, with pop and rap working their way into the mix and augmenting traditional sounds associated with the genre.

Typical of this development is the track "Paris Dakar" by Senegal's Daara J. While the song sounds similar to American rap, its message encourages young people who travel from Dakar to Paris not to forget their homeland of Senegal.

There's a surprise appearance from Gillett's homeland: "Mondo Bongo" by the late Joe Strummer, former guitarist for the clash and enthusiastic promoter of world music during his lifetime.

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Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.
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