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Putumayo = Whole World Music

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!

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307 comments

Comments

Hong Pham says …

This is the first time I was introduced to Putumayo. I'm excited to get to know more about Putumayo Music.

Maureen says …

Here I am on a wintr'y twilight Minnesota eve listening to Putumayo World Party. It not only has put me on the sunny side of the globe, but also inspired a spate of Caribbean style cooking, ala Whole Foods recipes.

Ana McKinney says …

I love all Putumayo CD's, but I do have a preference for instrumental Peruvian, Mexican and African sounds.

Pat Henry says …

I like Luis Munoz Latin music CD's. He is a local Santa Barbara musician. His music is just great!

Carol says …

Wow, I had no idea this was available. I am going to check out these CDs right away, they sound wonderful. I love hawaiian music, cajon music, reggae, anything with a lot of feel good spirit. Thank you!

Bruce Larson says …

My most played Cd is "Latinas".Such wonderful women voices.A blend of African,Euroean,and Native American influences.I love the sound of rain on the track by Lhasa.

Bruce Larson says …

My most played Cd is "Latinas".Such wonderful women voices.I love the sound of rain on the track by Lhasa.

Amy says …

I've been enjoying Putumayo collections for many, many years. French bistro music, anyone? Looking forward to the next release!

Robin D. says …

I am a YogaDance teacher who uses the amazing Putumayo CDs almost daily. I can't imagine teaching without them! After reading your story I thought it was interesting that the group Kotoja got you started. Salawe is one of my favorite songs that I play all the time. Many of the students in my classes are disabled, and they respond so positively to your music. Thank you for this gift!

Misty says …

I love music from other cultures and much of my collection is from the countries or places that I have visited (Philippines, Germany and Hawaii). But I also have music from the cultures that speak to me (Native American, R&B, Celtic, Scotish and Afican) or moves my soul. I can feel the energy and the pride of the people that are a part of that area/culture in their music. Music tells tales of the history of a culture or people. Before there were books or easy travel...the only way to communicate or pass down history was through music. What better way to show your respect and appreciation of the history of the world then through sharing music. That energy/pride is passed on through the recordings of Putumayo World music....next best thing to being there in person.

Maryann says …

I became interested in world music through a world music class that I took in college. My first exposure to Putumayo was at the library, I was looking for some world music bands that I could listen to, the first one being Afro beats. I have since listened to many other Putumayo CD's and just recently brought a chldren's world music CD for my great neice who is 1 year old. Thank you Putumayo for opening our minds..

Laurel says …

I love Putumayo music at home and in my classroom. There's nothing like taking a 5 minute break and dancing to a different beat. Our favorite cd is Swing Around the World.

Rich OC says …

My favorite Putumayo CD is Music from the Wine Lands.

Sherry says …

My daughter loves these World Music series. She always listens these music when she plays.

jenny sugrue says …

I love Jamaican music of any kind...dancehall, esspecially! I also love the blues, so I'm really hoping I get lucky and win this CD, so I can check out Putumayo's take on the blues!

Susan V says …

Just as you stated in your article your CD's are great for themed dinners. I have purchased your theme CD's on several occasions for very successful dinners for large groups at work. I also know that my little 2 year old granddaughter likes singing and dancing to your CD's. I was also drawn to your Women of the World CD's especially pleased to see that group represented. Your Putumayo radio shows are great too! Keep making such great music and sending out the CD's for us all to enjoy.

sandra says …

i bought a CD for my son, and got hooked on their music selections myself, ha-ha!

Anna says …

I've been a fan of Putumayo since they began in the '90s. Their compilations have IMPROVED over time. I especially like their underrated Asian-themed compilations,such as "India","Asian Groove","Asian Lounge" and "Music from the Tea Lands." One of their hidden gems is the now out-of-print "Gardens of Eden." Think of it as acoustic New Age worldbeat. On it,I discovered the Indian smooth jazz of Shweta Jhaveri,and Brazil's Ana Rita Simonka,who combines Indian classical music with bossa nova. Ana Rita Simonka's "Bossa Nova Delhi" is a soothing New Age/world music classic. It's Indian ragas meeting the silky sensuality of bossa nova. Putumayo World Music is the best! They've introduced me to great musicians--like Algeria's Cheb Mami, Brazil's Ana Rita Simonka, the French performance art collective Lo'Jo. All-around great!

Mary says …

My favorite Putamayo CD (and has been for years) is Women's Work. I use to listen to this with my roommate way back when, and now I listen to it with my 4 1/2 year old daughter. It's not only beautiful music but also powerful. I love the "sister spirit" it evokes. My personal favorite song on the CD is I Met a Man by Toni Childs. Her voice just grabs hold of you.

Nicole Black says …

I love Brasileiro. The rhythms simply move me to dance. I put it on and dance around the living room.

dymphna agos says …

The music I like the best is something up and probably Jamaican. Something that has rhytm and a beat and is up-lifting. I hope I win.

Latoya says …

I would love to win this cd, love music!

KEVIN GAUTREAU says …

I like south Louisiana Swamp Pop,its part of my culture,and brings me back to a simpler time

Walt Samuel says …

My musical tastes are fairly catholic but recently I have been listening to fado and modern flamenco.

sherry says …

Not long ago, I owned a small bookstore. My favorite vendor was Putumayo. I loved playing the music in my store (customers also enjoyed the music) and being able to offer Putumayo CDs. My contacts with the people at Putumayo were always positive and professional. I'm a long time fan of Putumayo music. My favorites recently are: African Dreamland, American Folk and Women of the World: Acoustic.

Joetta Umla says …

I like the Putumayo Samba Bossa Nova also. But I also use them when I entertain. I've had a Greek nite with rolled grape leaves from Whole Foods with a Greek salad and give out olive oil soap. The Greek Cd was great for that. I plan on doing something similar with the Asian and the Arabic using Moroccan food.

Emma says …

I love Putumayo's various cds and the introduction they give me to various genres within cultures all around the world. My favorite would probably be Turkish Groove (my first Putumayo purchase) which I listen to almost every day. I'm a bellydancer and I love dancing to the middle eastern cds that Putumayo puts out. Furthermore, I think the numerous charities Putumayo has collaborated with are fatastic- I am amazed by all the great causes that are out there and I never thought of until I discovered them on the Putumayo page. Fellow dancers, performers, and musicians along with myself have collaborated for several shows to send money onto some of these fantastic charities. Rock on, Putumayo!

Jodi says …

I like many of their albums but right now it would be the World Playground.

Connie Garrett says …

Hi Dan! Thank you for your wonderful company; what a boon it is to music lovers everywhere. My problem is: EVERY Putumayo CD I've heard has been my favorite! That said, the Christmas CDs really provide a cross cultural experience that's an educational - and musical - surprise. Keep up the great work! Connie G.

Claire says …

Women of the World! That is one of my favorite Putumayo Cd's! I am a yoga instructor and my students love when I play any and all Putumayo Cd's. They always have a wonderful mix of languages, which I love. And students always ask what I'm playing.

William Watkins, Jr. says …

let me win

yelena says …

I love any Latin music -- the energy in it just makes you want to get up and dance

Merry Bateman says …

Thank goodness for Putumayo! It brings the world to us in such vibrant and colorful ways. I have enjoyed so much music from Putumayo especially the Music from Tea Lands CD. I spent time in Asia exploring tea and came back to find this wonderful music collection.

P.J. Goddard says …

I love the Paris CD the most. It reminds me of my trip to Paris and the French countryside in 2006. Ironically, when we were there, we heard more American music than French music. Those cafes need the Putamayo Paris CD!! ~P.J.

Betty Abbott says …

Thank You, for giving us Music of the world. One more way we can show how really alike we are. Music is the connection we all can appreciate.

jj says …

I like the kids' music.

Christina says …

I love Putumayo! The 'Greece: a Musical Odyssey' plays in my kitchen when I cook Greek food!

Minjeong Kim says …

Love at first tune.. In 2002, as a foreign student struggling with lectures, homework, and homesickness, I didn't know about Putumayo at all.. One quiet weekday afternoon I stepped into a small art craft shop in town and found music soothes my soul and body.. Before coming out of the shop, I asked the shop clerk what she was playing. She said "Putumayo".. Wasn't sure if I got the spell right but anyway I straight went to Barnes&Nobles next door and asked that if they have "Petimayo" and bought the first Putumayo CD "Music From the Chocolate Lands". Now I got married and have a beautiful son. I recall that when my husband and I met first time, both of us were pleasantly surprised that we both enjoy Putumayo CDs..

Kristen J says …

I've had the priviledge of owning and listening to Putamayo CDs for several years. Now that we have a daughter of our own, we've started collecting the Putamayo Kids CDs ... she loves the Seasame Street from around the World! My husband and I especially love the French CDs--we already own the French Carribean CD--a must-have for everyone! We wish Putamayo the best, and keep the great cover art coming!

Irene Gale says …

When you were in Bali in 1991, did you run into Carl Berman, who has a Batik co.? I stayed at his apt. in San Francisco, with my cousing, his stepsister Barbara for a long weekend. Interesting guy---American 70's world roamer who ended up in Bali, married a Balanesian princess, who cleaned up his act. Then with her help he started a Batik business. Last I heard he was still living in Bali 6 mos. & the rest in San Fran, where he hawked his fabric. Thought you may have run into him when you buy wares for your co. Haven't heard anything since Barbara passed 5 yrs. ago.

Kristen says …

I like many of their CDs, but the Latin music offerings are my current favorites.

Anne Baldwin says …

My comments may not be admissible because I cannot declare a favorite. WUMB, the campus Public Radio station for UMASS Boston has a wonderful show on Sun. afternoons called Folk Odyssey which has broadened my appreciation of World Music to the extent that choosing is most difficult. I guess i would that music of West Africa along with Andean, Hawian slack-key guitar and singing, Balkan choir, and Gypsy music are my favorites. ( But that's today ! )

Betty Mordecai says …

I love this type music.

mn ziegler says …

The music of Putumayo gently reminds me that there are peoples and cultures other than my limited surroundings. Thank you for bringing it my attention whenever I do something as simple as putting on a CD.

Frances Barrett says …

Exciting to hear new work and the flavors, so organic. This could describe Whole Foods as well, but seriously, the feeling, the rhythm, VIVA, VIVA, VIVA!!!

Denise Newsome says …

I especially enjoyed the Italia CD listening to the Brazilian vibe mixed with a reggie beat which is very uplifting! Also was pleasantly surprised with the Israel CD as I expected something quite different, but found that I liked the mixed cultural sounds of french and ethiopian folk. Great for relaxing and while cooking!

Flora Faverman says …

I love Putumayo World Music Series. I would love to add this to my collection!!

Joanne says …

Pick a favorite-wow that is hard! I could never chose between Latin Grooves and Zydeco, I have worn both CD's out-glad I put them on my iPod. All of my Putumayo CD's are wonderful!!

Anna says …

I have at least 30 (or more) Putumayo CDs--of their recent CDs,I especially like "India" and "Israel." "Israel" is sadly underrated--and it comes with a GREAT recipe! It's got great musicians like David Broza,the Idan Raichel Project, Moshav Band, and Tea Packs. I'm looking forward to seeing what Putumayo will release this year...

Natalie S. says …

Love the Reggae tunes. Gotta dig it. =] I haven't heard most of the other ones but I hope to soon!

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