African Sounds of the Indian Subcontinent

In this Hip Deep program, Afropop explores musical connections between Africa and India. First up is the story of the Afro-Indian Sidi community. In the 13th century, Africans arrived in India as soldiers in the armies of Muslim conquerors. Some were able to rise through the ranks to become military leaders and even rulers. Their descendants continue to live in India today, performing African-influenced Sufi trance music at shrines to the black Muslim saint named Baba Gor. Next, we dive into the swinging jazz era of 1930s Bombay, when African-American jazz musicians arrived by the dozen to perform at the glitzy Taj Mahal Hotel. They trained a generation of Indian jazz musicians who would become instrumental in the rise of India’s Hindi film music industry. Then we head south to the island of Sri Lanka, where Africans have had a presence for almost 500 years. We explore their history through the groovy Afro-Indo-Portuguese pop music style known as baila, popularized by 1960s star Wally Bastiansz and still performed at parties in Sri Lanka today. Finally, we speak with Deepak Ram, a Indian jazz flutist who recounts his experiences growing up Indian in apartheid South Africa. Throughout, we hear from leading experts, and of course, introduce fantastic and often-unexpected music. 

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