I’ve been listening to World Routes on Radio 3, on and off, for a few years now. I think it was the late and much missed Charlie Gillett who alerted me to it all those years ago. I was thinking about him this morning: it’s almost two years since he died, and it’s lovely that he’s remembered by presenters such as Bob Harris and Lucy Doran, both of whom have mentioned him in recent shows.
Over the last couple of days, I’ve been catching up on World Routes: I have a bit of a backlog, but I should catch up within a day or two. I can typically listen to three hours of radio while I’m at work
One of he more recent programme I heard today was broadcast just over a week ago. It featured Mexican duo Rodrigo y Gabriela playing a couple of songs and in conversation with Lucy Duran.
Unfortunately, you can’t listen to the programme on the BBC iPlayer, as it’s over 7 days old. Which is a bit disappointing, as there are several much older programmes still available.
Two of which I also listened to today. The main appeal of the programme is, of course the wide variety of music from all over the world. But sometimes, I am introduced to people that I’d not heard of before, and whose stories are fascinating in the own right.
Today, I learned about two very inspirational women: totally different backgrounds, totally different life stories, but equally fascinating.
In the first, Lucy Duran explored the archive of pioneering ethnomusicologist Jean Jenkins. In the 1960s and 1970s, before I was even aware of such a thing as ‘world music’, she was travelling the world, recording the local music on the best recording equipment available.
Read more on the programme, see photos and listen while you can: The Jean Jenkins Archive.
The second woman was mentioned almost in passing during a show from The Jerusalem International Oud Festival 2011. Roza Eskenazi is (I learned) known as Queen of the Greek Blues. Born a Greek Jew in the 1890s, she enjoyed a singing careen from the 1920s through to the 1970s.
During the Second World War, and the German occupation of Greece, she managed to hide her Jewish identity, helped other Jews and resistance fighters, even sheltering English agents in her home, and all the while having a relationship with a German officer.
The programme featured a tribute to Roza, and as is often the case, knowing the background to the songs renders the songs all the more powerful.
More about the programme here – and this one is still available on the iPlayer.
So, overall, a highly recommmended Sunday afternoon listen: