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Regents of the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1382)
Paul L. Conway (Project Director: July 2015 to June 2019)
Kelly M. Askew (Co Project Director: March 2016 to June 2019)

Humanities Collections and Reference Resources
Preservation and Access

$260,000 (approved)
$260,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
6/1/2016 – 5/31/2018

Ethical Access to "Music Time in Africa"

The digitization and creation of online access to archival materials, dating from the 1960s to the 1980s, which document African popular music, including approximately 7,500 hours of audio recordings, as well as program scripts and field notes. The materials were collected and created by Leo Sarkisian for the radio program Music Time in Africa.

"Music Time in Africa" is the oldest and longest running English-language radio program broadcast to the African continent by the Voice of America. Ethnomusicologist Leo Sarkisian created the weekly program in the early 1960s at the invitation of famed journalist Edward R. Murrow. Leo recorded hundreds of hours of original field recordings in at least 38 newly decolonized African nations and utilized selections from these and other regional recordings as the raw material for weekly 30-minute broadcasts. He scripted the broadcasts - based on his first-hand knowledge of musical genres and cultures of the African continent - which were then performed by a series of popular announcers. Leo embraced the full spectrum of African musical practices. Included within the corpus of recordings are: the only known recording of Louis Armstrong performing at the 1967 Tunis Festival; the first known recording of famed Nigerian Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, the first known recording of Guinea's popular Bembeya Jazz Band, and so much more. Traditional music, chorale music, big band music, Afro-funk, Latin covers, and Western-style opera and symphonies by African composers are included among Leo's 500 field recordings.