Whole Story

The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

Putumayo's Latest: African Blues

Read on for a chance to win a 6-CD set from Putumayo’s blues and African titles. Dan Storper is the CEO and Founder of Putumayo World Music.

The blues has long been about storytelling, about raising a voice from the margins and edges of American life. As it spread from the Deep South to Chicago and beyond, the blues incorporated a powerful musical groove that has influenced music around the world.

Now, musicians are reaching across the Atlantic and finding that they have a common story to tell in shades of blue. Putumayo’s African Blues, now available in most Whole Foods Market® stores, chronicles the return of the blues to its African motherland.

It also demonstrates the burgeoning connections between West and East African musicians and performers from the blues’ traditional heartland in the US, as well as converts in Europe — and shows how these connections are revolutionizing traditions on both continents. Taj Mahal, together with the Culture Musical Club of Zanzibar, gets down and deep in a slow-burning meditation on the beauties of Dhow Countries. Mali’s Issa Babayogo brings his characteristic, sparkling knack for gritty, melodic grooves.

The ever-evolving Playing for Change band — this time featuring hip desert rockers Tinariwen and Keb Mo — reveals how globally malleable a good old 12-bar blues can be. For me, it’s like two halves of a circle. The blues’ roots are in Africa but emerged and evolved as a powerful musical style in America. Now they’re reuniting in new and exciting ways. When we worked on Mali to Memphis, we recognized the powerful connection between the bluesy music of West Africa and the Mississippi Delta.

That began my search for American and African blues and blues-influenced music and led to a series of successful CDs including Mississippi Blues, American Blues and Blues Around the World. Putumayo will contribute $5,000 from sales of African Blues to the International Rescue Committee in support of their humanitarian work helping refugees to survive and rebuild their lives. For more information, visit www.rescue.org.

Are you a blues enthusiast too? Got a favorite blues band or artist? Tell us in the comments below for a chance to win a 6-CD set from Putumayo’s African and Blues series. Comment by May 17th for a chance to win. We’ll choose one comment at random to receive the CDs.