Jina Moore of the Christian Science Monitor reports that in the world music industry, many bands are “snagging the spotlight with their biographies.” Groups like the Sierra Leone Refugee All Stars have reeled in a fan base due in large part to their interesting back stories. The All Stars met in refugee camps, and their rags-to-recording-studio tale resonated with audiences who’d seen Blood Diamonds and heard about Sierra Leone in the news. The result was an outpouring of compassion for the band and fascination with their music.
Other world musicians have taken a similar path to world stardom. Moore cites Emmanuel Jal, K’naan, and Andy Palacio and the Garifuna Collective as artists who’ve reaped the benefits of an intriguing band history.
“People interested in world music are looking for that kind of meaning,” says Jacob Edgar, head of music research for the Putumayo label. “They want to be connecting with other cultures, enjoying music that has more spirit and soul to it than just another rock band trying to create hits.” —Cara Binder