[16 Jun 2015 ]
‘A Lot Of Hope And A Lot Of Fear’: Anouar Brahem’s Arab Spring Remembrance

Anouar Brahem is one of Tunisia’s best-known composers and musicians. He’s released numerous solo albums and collaborated with a renowned French choreographer and an esteemed Greek filmmaker. Yet Brahem couldn’t figure out a way to respond to the upheaval in his country that began at the end of 2010 — the one that launched the Arab Spring. So he waited four years.
That response is captured on Brahem’s new album Souvenance, which is French for “remembrance.” He wrote this short text for the album’s liner notes:
“Extraordinary events had suddenly shaken the daily lives …

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PRI's The World »

[16 Jun 2015 ]
A rising female singer in Cuba gets a shot at international fame

Last May, 22-year-old singer Daymé Arocena was invited to take part in an ‘open mic’ audition in Havana. She was one of a couple dozen Cuban artists getting a shot at a chance to record on a new album for Gilles Peterson’s label. Peterson is a well-known DJ and producer based in Britain.
Daymé says she was tense. ”Each person sang one song, I was so scared ’cause that open mic was huge. A lot of beautiful talent and famous Cuban singers, and I was so scared ’cause nobody knows me there.”
Gilles Peterson had invited …


[16 Jun 2015 ]
From Four Different Corners Of Africa, Four Bold New Albums

World-music DJ Betto Arcos is back — this time, with music he’s found all over the African continent. The host of Global Village on KPFK in Los Angeles recently joined NPR’s Arun Rath to discuss new albums from four different corners of Africa, including soulful songs from a prison in Malawi, dance music from Congo and a collaboration between a Malian singer and a Cuban pianist. Hear their conversation at the audio link, and check out the music below.
Mbongwana Star – “Shégué”
from: From Kinshasa
Ben Masekese (Zomba Prison Project) – “A Message (I …

PRI's The World »

[16 Jun 2015 ]
This Mexican author says languages aren’t straitjackets, but tools to start a bilingual conversation

Cristina Rivera Garza is a Mexican writer and professor who has developed her career on both sides of the US-Mexico border. Her novels in Spanish have won literary awards in Mexico, and she’s taught writing both in Mexico and the United States.
So she knows what it’s like to work and write in both Spanish and English. Producer Betto Arcos caught up with her at LéaLA, the Spanish-language book fair in Los Angeles, and asked her what it’s like being a published author in two languages, and how living on both …


[13 Apr 2015 ]
DJ Betto Arcos Spices Up The Accordion

Betto Arcos, host of Global Village on KPFK in Los Angeles and globetrotting DJ, is a frequent guest on the weekends on All Things Considered, where he discusses the music he’s found on his journeys. On this episode, Arcos shares music that utilizes the accordion, with eye towards coaxing new and unexpected sounds out of the instrument. Hear the conversation at the audio link, and check out the music below.
Jean-Louis Matinier and Marco Ambrosini
“Tasteggiata” from: Inventio

Kepa Junquera
“Sorginak Infernuko Hauspotik Irtetzen” from: Una pequeña historia de la Trikitixa

Chango Spasiuk
“Tierra Colorada (En Vivo en el Teatro Colon)” from: Tierra …

PRI's The World »

[13 Apr 2015 ]
A Mexican series finds overlooked stories of immigrants in America — including one from The World

Journalists love to tell stories, but they’re not always fond of being the subject. But that’s exactly what happened to radio producer Betto Arcos, who frequently covers music from Latin America for PRI’s The World.
Arcos is featured in a 15-part Mexican documentary series called ”Los Otros Mexicanos,” which shows average Mexican immigrants who have made a big impact on American society.
“When they first approached me about it, I kind of just sort of laughed,” says the 52-year-old. “I’ve always been the one always asking the questions … [but] they said they really liked the aspect about …