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Putumayo = Whole World Music

By Dan Storper, January 31, 2010  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Dan Storper
Around here, we feel like Putumayo World Music and Whole Foods Market kind of grew up together. In celebration of our 30th birthday this year, we asked Dan Storper, founder and president of Putumayo, to write about how it all came to be. Post a comment by February 7th with your favorite kind of world music or Putumayo CD and you might just win a copy of their upcoming release, Rhythm & Blues. putamayoPutumayo World Music was created as a result of a happy series of coincidences. I must say that serendipity (destiny?) has played a major role in much of my professional life. Back in 1991, on my return from Bali, where I was designing and buying clothing and handicrafts for my wholesale and retail business based in New York, I stopped off in San Francisco for a day. On the way to visit a museum exhibit in Golden Gate Park, I heard an incredible African band called Kotoja performing in front of a few hundred people of all ages and backgrounds who were dancing to their wonderful Nigerian-based Afro-beat music. I was struck by how the music had brought these different types of people together on a beautiful San Francisco day in the park. Back in New York a few days later, I walked into my Putumayo clothing and handicraft store and heard some intense heavy metal music coming from the speakers. I knew that it was time to address music in my stores. I put together a special mixed tape combining some of my favorites like Van Morrison, Bob Dylan, Bonnie Raitt and others with African, Brazilian and other world music I had started collecting. The response was immediate and overwhelming. Everyone started asking about the music. danA few weeks later, I found myself at a conference of the Social Venture Network, which had members at the time including Anita Roddick of the Body Shop, Ben & Jerry, John Mackey, Whole Foods' CEO, and the founder of Rhino Records, Richard Foos. I started talking with Richard about releasing a CD of world music I was playing in my stores and he agreed to partner with us on the first CD, which came out in 1993. I discussed the idea with retailers, including John Mackey, at the Social Venture Network. At first there was some skepticism. But once we had our first CDs, we started approaching individual Whole Foods stores to try out our music. From the beginning it worked out well and the staff seemed to like the idea of being able to present great world music for adults and, later, kids as a way of introducing people to the world through music. Eventually, I met Walter Robb, Whole Foods' Co-President, who became a fan and introduced us to many of the regional managers and helped us in the process of having Putumayo sold at most of the Whole Foods stores. Today, Whole Foods is our biggest account. More than 20 of our CDs include recipes and we've noticed the connection between food and music, and we even have a food-based CD for children called Picnic Playground. People play our music at home parties and have themed dinners in which French, Italian, Latin or other music is played and the recipes by well-respected chefs in our CDs are used. We're also pleased that through the sales of CDs at Whole Foods and other retailers, we've raised more than $1 million to contribute to non-profits doing good work in the regions where the music comes from. (Note: In response to the unprecedented tragedy in Haiti, Putumayo is giving all receipts from their French Caribbean CD to The Red Cross. Five of the songs on this collection are from Haiti.) putamayo1Now that I live in New Orleans, I've been happy to introduce great American music to the world. Our upcoming Rhythm & Blues release features many of my favorite soul artists from New Orleans and beyond. It's a throwback to my youth when I loved the Four Tops, Manhattans, Otis Redding and many others. It's coming out soon, but if you'd like to win an advance copy, just post a comment below and let me know what's your favorite world music or Putumayo CD. Two comments will be selected at random to receive a free copy of our Rhythm & Blues CD. Post your comment by February 7th to be eligible. Enjoy the music!

02/10 - Congrats to our randomly selected winners of the Putumayo Rhythm & Blues CDs!

Samir As far as Putumayo’s back catalogue is concerned, “Women of The World: Acoustic” and “Music from Chocolate Lands” are two of my favourites. Listening to these will guarantee you lower blood pressure and make great listening whether you are stuck in traffic or just chillin’ in your home. Putumayo’s label is full of some of the most fascinating and original music produced on this planet.

Claire Calhoun My first CD was New Orleans Christmas…I love it…gave several as gifts. There are so many that I love and enjoy…World Groove is one. Just heard some of the blues CD’s and hope to add them to my collection soon. Fabulous music….makes me happy and wanting to dance!

Category: Trends & New Stuff




Kim says ...
I love the CDs - it's a great way to learn about music from areas I might not have considered.
01/31/2010 7:36:47 AM CST
Nancy says ...
Putumayo is an incredible social enterprise! I think world music is key to cross-cultural reconciliation. If we can begin to appreciate another culture's music and food, we can appreciate and respect the people of that culture. My favorite world music group is from southeastern Uganda and is called Kinobe and Soul Beat Africa. Check them out: http://www.kinobemusic.com/
01/31/2010 7:43:19 AM CST
Lana C. says ...
I love Hawaiian music - it's American but it's completely different from anything else you might term "American". It's serene, simple, beautiful, diverse and rich, and listening to it takes me back to a relaxing sunny afternoon on the beach in Waikiki, listening to the ukelele players in the plaza. Even if I'm stuck in traffic :)
01/31/2010 8:54:00 AM CST
maureen tjoflat says ...
Putumayo Music has been a great resource making music from around the world so accessible. My family has a number of recordings, including one of my favorites the Celtic CD's. I also love the World Music CD and curriculum with Passport Journals---it's a favorite of my middle school music students!!
01/31/2010 9:23:27 AM CST
denise petersen says ...
I love Women's Work, and my son would never have learned the Bongo Bongo song if it weren't for the first World Playground! I sold Putumayo cd's in my coffee shop in Marin County in the late '90's and love them to this day. I miss the clothing stores, though!
01/31/2010 11:46:52 AM CST
Monica says ...
I think From Congo to Cuba is a near-perfect CD. I ordered CDs from every artist featured on it, and love every one. My first love of Putumayo CDs was Afro-Latino and yes, I am one of the people who walked into the Putumayo store in Soho and was electrified by the music and have been buying Putumayo CDs ever since. Cripes, I even WENT to Putumayo in Colombia! My ambition is to acquire every Putumayo CD out there and I have a whole bookshelf dedicated to them. I am crazy about Putumayo CDs with titles like: Latin Jazz, Colombia, French Caribbean, World Lounge, the Dalom Kids & Splash, Johnny Clegg, Mo' Vida, Latin Groove, Radio Latino, World Groove, Baila!, Nuevo Latino, Celtic Crossroads, North African Groove and gosh there are so many more, awesome all of them! Right now, I'm playing the lovely Afro-Portuguese Odyssey.
02/01/2010 2:01:26 AM CST
anonymous says ...
During the first days after the Haiti Earthquake, I played French Caribbean nonstop and wrote my newspaper editorials (this is my job) about Haiti while listening to this sound under the headphones.
02/01/2010 2:08:03 AM CST
Debra Banks says ...
One of my favourite CD's from Putumayo is 'One World' have been a fan of this label from its' inception...Love this collective CD of rhythm and tunes from all about our global community..always listen to it...One Love..
02/01/2010 11:17:51 AM CST
Claire Calhoun says ...
My first CD was New Orleans Christmas...I love it...gave several as gifts. There are so many that I love and enjoy...World Groove is one. Just heard some of the blues CD's and hope to add them to my collection soon. Fabulous music....makes me happy and wanting to dance!
02/01/2010 11:22:15 AM CST
Stephanie says ...
I LOVE Putumayo!! I like to use the Playground cd's in preschool classrooms throughout the day and the Dreamland cd's during naptime. It is a great way to introduce cultural music. Right now my favorite cd is Acoustic Africa. I am in the process of obtaining my Master's degree and I enjoy listening to Acoustic Africa while I am writing essays. It puts me in a wonderful mood and makes my essay writing more enjoyable! :)
02/01/2010 11:32:20 AM CST
Daniel says ...
My favorite is probably the India CD. The way their langauge and singing style is capable of conveying such raw passion is absolutely beautiful.
02/01/2010 11:35:08 AM CST
Samir says ...
As far as Putumayo's back catalogue is concerned, "Women of The World: Acoustic" and "Music from Chocolate Lands" are two of my favourites. Listening to these will guarantee you lower blood pressure and make great listening whether you are stuck in traffic or just chillin' in your home. Putumayo's label is full of some of the most fascinating and original music produced on this planet.
02/01/2010 11:46:24 AM CST
Kate Walsh says ...
We just returned from a long road trip, and the Putumayo cds were the ones most requested by my children :) It made the driving very pleasant indeed! The most requested were: Women of Spirit, and Music from the Chocolate Lands.
02/01/2010 11:48:34 AM CST
Annie Woods says ...
I have over 120 putumayo CD's and my favorite is a tie between South Pacific Islands and India. Can't wait to hear more!
02/01/2010 12:01:04 PM CST
Debbie L Rogers says ...
When I requested music from my family, other than my usual request of jazz, I was given Music from the Coffee Lands II. It is still my favorite. I love the vocals in other languages. I don't have the time to do a music search in languages & Putumayo has done it for me. Yea!
02/01/2010 12:08:06 PM CST
ricardo says ...
I own about 25+ Putumayo CDs, as a matter of fact, my entire iPod lists are Putumayo music. My favorite are the groove and lounge collections.
02/01/2010 12:24:30 PM CST
Karen says ...
Where can you listen to a sampling of this CD????
02/01/2010 1:02:04 PM CST
Tom Albrecht says ...
This is fantastic! :D
02/01/2010 1:04:41 PM CST
Davey says ...
New Orleans is a great place to experience a various music styles. Welcome to the city! It sounds that the music on your CD's will nourish the soul and calm the spirit.
02/01/2010 1:22:44 PM CST
Monika Star says ...
I love the Whole World Music experience I put on the headphones and get lost in the sounds of Wordly Music-Real authentic Music!
02/01/2010 1:24:01 PM CST
Elizabeth says ...
I have a number of Putumayo cds. My favorites are the New Orleans and Zydeco compilations. They are always playing on my ipod. I also listen to the internet music stream.
02/01/2010 1:27:10 PM CST
Paivi Lohikoski says ...
I love Putumayo records! I´ve got five cd`s and I´ll definitely get more. Not many people in Finland know yet about this record label, but I´m certainly spreading the message here :-) My favourite albums are Espana, Women of Jazz, World Lounge and Acoustic Brazil, or Music from the Coffee Lands. My two daughters (3,5 and 2 years) love to dance to this music also! We would love to get the newest Rhytm and Blues! Love Paivi
02/01/2010 1:35:32 PM CST
Alina says ...
my best of the best is Asian Groove. Can't get enough of it
02/01/2010 1:38:01 PM CST
Connie Hostak says ...
I first discovered Putumayo CDs while traveling in Puerto Rico. I wanted some local music as a souvenir and chose the brightly colored Putumayo CD that caught my eye. I loved it from the first listen and have since run across Putumayo CDs in the Caribbean, Spain, and even Alaksa! My collection has expanded faster than my travels, however, and my current favorite is Music from the Coffee Lands.
02/01/2010 2:02:25 PM CST
Chef Edmund Gelfman says ...
Hi! My two favorite Putumayo CDs are: Animal Playground and African Dreamland. The selections on Animal Playground are upbeat, diverse and fun. A great compliment to family time or a child's activity or play date occasion. And also, my children ages 14, 11, 8 and 6 truly enjoy listening, singing, dancing and drawing/coloring while this CD play over, and over...again African Dreamland is superb for when you'd like to create peaceful, soothing and restful times. Beautiful music for all ages. Highly Recommend, Putumayo.
02/01/2010 2:14:06 PM CST