• 382 pages
  • 6 x 9
  • Price: $26.95
  • EAN: 9780877229162
  • Publication: May 1992
  • Price: $74.50
  • EAN: 9780877227939
  • Publication: Jun 1992
  • Price: $29.95
  • EAN: 9781439904978
  • Publication: May 1992

West African Pop Roots

John Collins

Having spent more than twenty years as a performer, manager, and producer of African music, John Collins brings an insider's perspective and a personal passion to this account of popular music in West Africa. He explores the roots of the various styles and genres and the "feedback" of black music adapted to the New World and returning to Africa to reinfluence its origins. Collins celebrates the personalities and sounds of today's music, its influence on an international audience, the African music business, and the cross-fertilization between African music and that of other cultures. Interspersed with his rich descriptions and historical narratives are colorful biographical sketches of important African musicians along with a wealth of rare photographs of individuals and bands.

With the intention of exposing "the inner driving forces of popular music in Africa," Collins delves into the history of African music, traces its evolution throughout the twentieth century, and explores the current "world beat" explosion. He demonstrates that the enormous energy generated by African music is in part a result of its polyrhytmic nature and rhythmic spacing, "the hot sounds and the cool space." He describes the complexities of African rhythms: the cross-beats, the inside rhythm, the varying tempo, the positive and negative sound, and the rhythmic dialogue. "African music," Collins observes, "is a gestalt of opposites that unifies the up and down-beat, head and feet, the audience and performer, into the communion of the beat.... There is no separation, only universal 'togetherness.'"

West African Pop Roots treats the significant personalities and inside stories of many of its greatest stars, including Manu Dibango with Soul Makossa, E.T. Mensah, Victor Uwaifo, Fela, Youssou N'Dour, and Sonny Okosun, among others. Collins describes the global research for the African roots of pop, which has attracted such Western performers as Ginger Baker, Paul McCartney, Mick Fleetwood, Peter Gabriel, Paul Simon, David Byrne, and many others. The author describes Africa's world-wide influence on music and dance as "the nearest thing we have in the twentieth century to a global folk music."


"(A)n important resource for anyone interested in the historical development of popular music.... Collins brings to light the contexts, the sources, the crossovers and the evolution of the music in a highly readable way. This is...a book full of life and unique 'insider' insight into African society and music on all levels." —Popular Music

"A tremendous resource, not only for those outside of Africa who are trying to understand the source of Afro pop but also for Africans themselves...." —George Collinet, "Afro Pop Worldwide," National Public Radio

About the Author(s)

John Collins is manager of the Bokoor Recording Studio (Ghana), acting Chairman of the Bokoor African Popular Music Archives Foundation, and is on the Ghanaian National Folklore-Copyright Administration Board. The author of several books and numerous articles about African music, he is a doctoral candidate at State University of New York at Buffalo.