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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




Barbara Selmo says ...
We played Putamayo's "World Playground" and "Sing Along with Putamayo" for our children endlessly when they were little. These two cd's were our go-to play time and bed time music. We loved them!
02/03/2010 9:06:45 PM CST
Laurie Stuckey says ...
I love all the Putamayo music, but my favorite ones have to be the cd's for children. My daughter asks me for the "jumpy music" and we put it on and dance around the kitchen together, giggling and laughing.
02/03/2010 9:11:47 PM CST
Chris Staley says ...
Jai Uttal and the Pagan Love Orchestra - Beggers and Saints When I want to travel the world through music, I reach for this CD. It has classical Indian instruments (for that Far East sound)accompanied with vocals (English/Sanskrit/Hindi) that have a funk-pop vibe. Some instramental to relax to and some that make you want to dance. Great balance, which we all need more in our lives.
02/03/2010 9:12:36 PM CST
Marilyn Stemp says ...
I've always enjoyed the jazzy sounds of Hugh Masakela.
02/03/2010 9:14:09 PM CST
Mary Epstein says ...
I have listened to many Putmayo Cd's but my all time favorite is " Women of Jazz." When I listen to the music on my Ipod, I feel as though I am in New Orleans surrounded by each and every one of these fabulous female artists who sing their melodies with such heart and joyous rhythm.
02/03/2010 9:14:37 PM CST
Elaine says ...
I have the Portuguese and Italian Putumayo CDs and I love them. Lots of happy songs.
02/03/2010 9:15:15 PM CST
Kurt Rowe says ...
I've been a fan of Putamayo World music for quite some time. Latin American, African, Caribbean, and especially Rhythm & Blues, New Orleans style ... its all SO good! Thanks and keep up the great work.
02/02/2010 4:53:51 AM CST
Howard says ...
I have a number of these CDs but my current favorite is Italia — my daughter got it for me at the Whole Foods near our house for Christmas because my wife and I are going to Italy in March for our 35th anniversary. It's on constantly to get us in the mood for the trip (as if we needed more incentive!) Great music.
02/02/2010 6:29:17 AM CST
Renee Potere says ...
I love that your passion has become your work by serendipity. Magical that you love your work and certainly part of being Whole is great music ! Renee
02/02/2010 7:33:21 AM CST
E. Brooks says ...
My favorite Putamayo CD... that's a tough one....there are so many good ones..... But since I have to pick just one favorite it will have to be Celtic Tides.
02/03/2010 6:56:17 PM CST
Jean says ...
I like Vampire Weekend's music - their eclectic sytle and rhythms.
02/03/2010 6:57:14 PM CST
Denise DiFalco says ...
I am a Big Fan of all types of world music. I think Music is the Key to our connection. Music spreads joy and love. Thank you for the AWESOME opportunity~
02/03/2010 7:00:25 PM CST
R. M. says ...
I do not own a Putumayo CD. I have heard the CDs when I have been in bookstores, coffeeshops and boutique stores during my travels across the country. I especially like the Latin and African flavored/themed songs; you can't help moving to the rhythmic beat.
02/03/2010 10:43:25 PM CST
Ted says ...
I have downloaded some awesome samplers of African music that I really enjoy. I would love to hear this too.
02/03/2010 10:55:46 PM CST
Traci L says ...
I am a big fan of Putumayo CD's! Whenever I am stuck in traffic, I put one of them on and it is like going on a mini escape/vacation!
02/03/2010 10:56:17 PM CST
Cornelius Ejimofo says ...
The Habib Koite CD Ma Ya is one of my favorites but I have not heard on I don't like yet. Thanks for the music.
02/04/2010 2:38:32 AM CST
jeff says ...
music knows no borders
02/04/2010 3:44:32 AM CST
Bett says ...
Can't wait for this one. This style of R&B was the music of my youth, and hearing it brings me right back to the old days!!
02/04/2010 4:23:08 AM CST
Karen says ...
I love the Asian Lounge and the Latin Lounge collection The music can be relaxing and energizing all at same time1
02/03/2010 2:57:33 PM CST
Alyce says ...
We got the Dreamland CDs for our twins when they were born and they are wonderful for our evening bed time routine.
02/04/2010 9:25:51 AM CST
Anne says ...
I love the Brazilian music cd for children. My husband is from Brazil and we wanted to introduce our daughter to the music and not have to order cds from brazil. I was very impressed and my husband was familiar with most of the songs. She now knows a few of the songs by heart and is speaking more portuguese! Thanks
02/04/2010 9:26:49 AM CST
lacey says ...
Hi! One of my favorites is Braziilan Lounge. Keep up the good work and cant wait to hear more! If there any other place to get them besides wholefoods and online?
02/04/2010 9:27:53 AM CST
Shirley Abreu says ...
While I love listening to blues, African music is a big draw with me. From Afropop, Griot to djembe I'm mesmerized by the various areas. Artists like Angelique Kidjo, Konono No. 1, Youssou N'Dour Fela Futi, Ali Farka Touré
02/04/2010 9:28:30 AM CST
Jessica says ...
The French Cafe is my favorite so far, it is so upbeat and always puts me in such a good mood.
02/09/2010 8:12:05 AM CST
Jana says ...
I love Putumayo-my fav right now is the Salsa Around the World. Can't wait to hear this new one!
02/04/2010 9:13:51 AM CST