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Every Wednesday at 4pm the North 103.3 highlights global artists during Northland Afternoon

World Music Wednesday: Afro Celt Sound System

Kevin Westerberg / Real World Records

Exploring the similarities between African and Celtic Music

World Music Wednesday is a weekly segment on The North 103.3 FM. Every Wednesday at 4pm on Northland Afternoon, we will feature a brand-new release or a significantly important past work from our vast library of music from around the world.

Support for World Music Wednesday comes from Simply Ballroom in Duluth's Craft District.

Afro Celt Sound System are a European and African group who fuse electronic music with traditional Gaelic and West African music. They formed in 1995 but the inspiration behind the project goes back to 1991, when Simon Emmerson, a Grammy Award-nominated British producer and guitarist, collaborated with Afro-pop star Baaba Maal. While making an album with Maal in Senegal, Emmerson was struck by the similarity between one African melody and a traditional Irish air.

He decided to experiment with this similarity, bringing two members of Baaba Maal's band together with traditional Irish musicians to try some ideas, also adding a bit of modern electronic dance beat sound. "People thought I was mad when I touted the idea," Emmerson explained, "but the success was extraordinary."

Over the years, there have been four musicians consistently at the heart of the ensemble, but Afro Celt Sound System are best seen as a collective of many musicians on a wide range of traditional instruments from Ireland and West Africa.

Afro Celt Sound Systems' second and third albums featured many guest artists, including Sinéad O'Connor, Robert Plant, and Peter Gabriel.

Afro Celt Sound System went on hiatus in the early 2010s for a time but have since released two more full-length recordings. Sadly, founder Simon Emmerson passed away in 2023, one day after his 67th birthday. Their newest album, OVA, coming out this year, features the single "Magical Love," which was completed prior to Emmerson's passing.

Chris Harwood is The North 1033’s Production Director and (acting) Program Director, a morning/daytime host, and the host of Soul Village. He is also a musician, a music historian, an audio engineer, and an avid record collector.
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