Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Popular Culture and the Commonwealth

Popular culture (or pop culture) can be deemed as what is popular within the social context - that of which is most strongly represented by what is perceived to be popularly accepted among society. Otherwise, popular culture is also suggested to be the widespread cultural elements in any given society that are perpetuated through that society's vernacular language or lingua franca. It comprises the daily interactions, needs and desires and cultural 'moments' that make up the everyday lives of the mainstream. It can include any number of practices, including those pertaining to cooking, clothing, consumption, mass media and the many facets of entertainment such as sports and literature. Popular culture often contrasts with a more exclusive, even elitist "high culture,", that is, the culture of ruling social groups.

Popular (1490), "public," from L. popularis "belonging to the people," from populus "people." Meaning "well-liked, admired by the people" is attested from 1608. Popularity "fact or condition of being beloved by the people" is first recorded 1601; popularity contest is from 1941. Popular Front "coalition of Communists, Socialists, and radicals" is from 1936. Popularize "to make a complex topic intelligible to the people" is from 1833
pop (adj., n.) "having popular appeal," 1926, of individual songs from many genres; 1954 as a genre of its own; abbreviation of popular (q.v.), earlier as a shortened form of popular concert (1862), often in the plural form pops. Pop art first recorded 1957, said to have been in use bconversationally among Independent group of artists from late 1954.

Those few elements of popular culture we will be discussing in the Cultures of Commonwealth English course will be taken from the areas of Film, Sport, Literature, Art and Communities. The first four areas are self-explanatory but the final one is a bit less clear. By communities I mean the cultures expressed through groups, be it the rave culture of the illegal dance party, the dress up costume play of Cosplay or the underground adventures of the Cave Clan of Melbourne, Australia. The so called 'Schoolies Week' which celebrates the end of High School for thousands of teenagers in Australia is one example of community as popular culture. There are many examples throughout the Commonwealth.

Popular culture does not sit under a single heading such as film, literature or music. Take the example of India, which is a huge subcontinent made up of thousands of different groups of people who speak different languages, have different religous beliefs (Hinduism is not a organised religion in the same way the Christian church is, but is a very complex system of practices and groups centered around a number of books, traditions and teachers). In India the culture of Kolkata is dramatically different from Mumbai, with different languages spoken, different types of food eaten, different music played. In the south of India (the Deccan) very few people speak Hindi and in the north Hindi is spoken by most people on the Ganges Plain. Likewise in South Africa popular culture depends on where you are and who you are talking to. The cultures of Cape Town are different to those of Johannesburg. In Australia there is some variation on cultures depending on where you are, however the predominance of English and a well established national media network assures that what is popular in Melbourne is usually also popular in Sydney but perhaps with its own local variation.

The degrees of variation in popular culture dependant on region and language groups can be traced back to the colonial history and earlier in each of the 3 former colonized nations discussed in this course. Both India and Southern Africa were divided into states and regions according to historical events (e.g. Kolkata - formerly Calcutta and the capital of India during the British Raj until 1911 - is the capital of West Bengal. What was once known as East Bengal during the colonial period is now Bangaldesh). Australia, because it is an island and has never been transfered back to be administered by its former occupants, is a the most unified nation in terms of culture and language of the three. The former coloniser, England has had to approach popular culture from a totally different direction, with the arts and cultures of the former colonies now making up mainstream culture in England. From Australian pop stars such as Kylie Minogue, Natalie Imbruglia and Nick Cave who all live full time in England now, to the many South Asian artists who live and work there, the citizens of the Commonwealth have all made England a more diverse cultural community.

There are examples of popular culture through out each of the sections of this course but in this section devoted to it I want to look at how the histories of each of the regions have contributed to the unique mix that it found there today. There is much I am missing out of course but I hope the concept of hybid or mix is clear from the examples of popular culture I have chosen from each area as well as what they all share with each other. What is common here is that popular culture in each area is unique and very mixed. In fact, as this series of lectures has progressed there has been a lessening of what can be spoken about as being common between South Africa, Australia and India. In popular culture this diversity or hybridity comes to the fore. For this reason the section of Popular Culture is not so much comparative as merely a brief overview to give you some idea of the depth and breadth of cultural production in each area.

Southern Africa

The fifty years during which the apartheid system was in force in South Africa and the divisons created by colonialism in other southern African states (such as Zimbabwe) had the intended effect of keeping cultures seperated. For European South Africans to learn from and adopt musical and poetic forms from the Zulu or Xhosa traditions was extreamly diffficult. However, since 1994 it is no longer illegal for different ethnic and cultural groups to mix, although the harsh realities of economic and social divisions can make this sometimes a dangerous and difficult thing to do. The life and recent death of South African artist Lucky Dube is an example of the struggle that many South African artists had to go through in order to cross boundaries of style and tradition and the harsh environment which forces many South Africans into violence.

Lucky Dube - Prisoner

Counting Headz: South Afrika’s Sistaz in Hip-Hop.”
“I wanted to do a documentary on inner city youth culture in Johannesburg, where I live. Then we shot a lot of footage of hip-hop, because the music has become such a big part of South African youth culture,” Magubane says, explaining the genesis of his film, which was co-directed by a producer based in Canada, Erin Offer. Voice of America

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House of Hunger poetry slam in Zimbabwe
In August 2006 the House of Hunger poetry slam in Zimbabwe showcased young artists who performed their inspirational work on issues ranging from corporate power to child soldiers. The event was filmed by organisers Pamberi Trust and this excerpt features four of the poets.
South Africa v Australia - Tri Nations 2009

Nadine Gordimer (born 20 November 1923) Nadine Gordimer is a South African writer, political activist and Nobel Prize in literature laureate. Her writing has long dealt with moral and racial issues, particularly apartheid in South Africa. She was active in the anti-apartheid movement, joining the African National Congress during the days when the organization was banned. She has recently been active in HIV/AIDS causes.

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Cricket is very very popular in England, India, Australia and South Africa. It is a complicated game and to the uninitiated it can appear to be boring but trust me it isn't. Cricket is a bat-and-ball sport contested by two teams, usually of eleven players each. A cricket match is played on a grass field, roughly oval in shape, in the centre of which is a flat strip of ground 22 yards (20.12 m) long, called a cricket pitch. A wicket, usually made of wood, is placed at each end of the pitch.
The bowler, a player from the fielding team, bowls a hard, fist-sized cricket ball from the vicinity of one wicket towards the other. The ball usually bounces once before reaching the batsman, a player from the opposing team. In defence of the wicket, the batsman plays the ball with a wooden cricket bat. Meanwhile, the other members of the bowler's team stand in various positions around the field as fielders, players who retrieve the ball in an effort to stop the batsman scoring runs, and if possible to get him or her out. The batsman — if he or she does not get out — may run between the wickets, exchanging ends with a second batsman (the "non-striker"), who has been waiting near the bowler's wicket. Each completed exchange of ends scores one run. Runs are also scored if the batsman hits the ball to the boundary of the playing area. The match is won by the team that scores more runs.
Cricket has been an established team sport for hundreds of years and is thought to be the second most popular sport in the world. More than 100 countries are affiliated to the International Cricket Council, cricket's international governing body. The sport's modern form originated in England, and is most popular in the present and former members of the Commonwealth. In many countries including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Australia, cricket is the most popular sport. It is also a major sport in England, New Zealand, South Africa, Zimbabwe and the English-speaking countries of the Caribbean, which are collectively known in cricketing parlance as the West Indies. Many countries also have well-established amateur club competitions, including the Netherlands, Kenya, Nepal and Argentina.
The sport is followed with passion in many different parts of the world. It has even occasionally given rise to diplomatic outrage, notoriously the Basil D'Oliveira affair (which led to the banning of South Africa from sporting events) and the Bodyline Test series in the early 1930s (which led to a temporary deterioration in relations between Australia and the United Kingdom).

Kwaito is a music genre that emerged in Johannesburg, South Africa in the early 1990s. It is based on house music beats, but typically at a slower tempo and containing melodic and percussive African samples which are looped, deep basslines and often vocals, generally male, shouted or chanted rather than sung or rapped. DJ Diplo described kwaito as "poor South African kids' form of slowed-down garage music." More recently, kwaito artists like Zola have rapped their lyrics in a hip-hop style, while others such as BOP and Oskido have sped up their beats and toned down the male chants to create a softer form of kwaito or african house. Other prominent kwaito artists include Arthur, Mandoza and Mzekezeke. Kwaito's lyrics are usually in indigenous South African languages or in English, although several languages can be found in the same song. The name kwaito itself is derived from the Afrikaans word Kwaai, meaning "angry". This Afrikaans word is derived from the Isicamtho, South African township slang, word amakwaitosi, meaning "gangster". Arthur Mafokate, one of the founding fathers of kwaito describes the relationship between kwaito and "gangster" being because it is "all about the ghetto music". Kwaito was born in Soweto, one of the townships where blacks were forced to live during the time of apartheid. Similarly, kwaito has been referred to as the "sound of the ghetto", and emerged from the most economically depressed areas of South Africa. Therefore, kwaito "opened up an economic avenue for a lot of young people as well as a creative avenue". Older musicians looked down upon this new music, calling it the music of gangsters, while current kwaito musicians tended to interpret this relationship of the word "gangster" to their music as it being "hot and kicking". Other listeners describe kwaito as “a mixture of all that 1990’s South African youth grew up on: South African disco music, hip hop, R&B, Ragga, and a heavy, heavy dose of American and British house music.”

Athol Fugard
Harold Athol Lannigan Fugard (b. June 11, 1932, Middelburg, South Africa), better known as Athol Fugard, is a South African playwright and actor. His wife, Sheila Fugard, and their daughter, Lisa Fugard, are also writers.

Television review of Athol Fugard

Athol Fugard: An Episode in the Life of Hildegard of Bingen
Athol Fugard, the distinguished South African playwright, has written Boesman and Lena, Sizwe Bansi is Dead, A Lesson from Aloes, and Master Harold and the Boys, among other acclaimed plays. He recently completed a play about Hildegard of Bingen, a twelfth century German abbess, mystic, naturalist, composer, and author, who is considered one of the most remarkable women of the medieval period. Fugard reflects on Hildegard of Bingen and his own research into her life and work. Series: Burke Lectureship on Religion & Society

David Kramer (born Worcester, South Africa in 1951) is a singer, songwriter, playwright and director. During Kramer's stay in Worcester he had some music lessons with the classical composer Cromwell Everson. He played in a South African band called The Creeps (Band) in the 1960's, and moved to England in 1971 to study textile design at Leeds University. His first release was a half live/half studio album Bakgat issued by Mountain Records in 1981, most of which was banned by the SABC. His follow up album Die Verhaal van Blokkies Joubert came later that year and produced the singles Hak Hom Blokkies and Die Royal Hotel both of which topped singles charts on various South African Radio stations. The album reached number 11 on the South African LP charts. His only other singles chart success was with Stoksielalleen from the Kwaai album, however he did chart with Delicious Monster, Hanepootpad and Kwaai in the albums charts. In 1986 he collaborated with Taliep Petersen on the highly acclaimed stage musical District Six It was also with Petersen that he produced Fairyland and Kat & the Kings all to critical acclaim, the latter having successful runs on Broadway and in London's West End. With his trademark red velskoene shoes, bicycle and guitar, he has been an enduring figure on South Africa's music scene. His songs are mostly stories about ordinary life in South Africa life

Television Advertisement for Volkswagon Bus featuring David Kramer

Official Website of David Kramer

Interveiw with Koos Kombuis, who is actually a musician who sings in Africaans but is here speaking in English about the cultural scene in South Africa

The Power of One by Bryce Courtaney
The Power of One is a bildungsroman (novel of personal development) written by Bryce Courtenay (born 14 August 1933 South Africa/Australia), first published in 1989. Set in South Africa during the 1930s and 1940s and later on in the story, Northern Rhodesia, it tells the story of an English boy who, through the course of the story, acquires the nickname of Peekay. (In the movie, the protagonist's given name is Peter Phillip Kenneth Keith, but that is not mentioned in the book.)

South African Literature and Arts


Australian Television
Australia is a federated nation and therefore is made up of states and territories, Each state has its own television stations, which often are run under a nation wide brand and organisation. The Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) is the main public service media network for Australia with representative radio and television stations in each state and territory and online. A brief introduction to how television was introduced into Australia in 1956 (the year of the Melbourne Olympics) can be found here: Launch of TV in Australia and From Wireless to Web (Note. Wireless being radio)

Triple J
Triple J is a nationally-networked, government-funded Australian radio station (a division of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation), mainly aimed at youth (defined as those between 12 and 25). Music played on the station is generally more alternative than commercial stations with a heavy emphasis on Australian and live music. In metropolitan rating surveys Triple J usually has less than one third the market share of its major commercial rivals, but its influence on Australian popular music belies the modest ratings, having provided a launchpad for numerous Australian recording artists and announcers. It is streamed over the internet and it would be good if you could listen to it at least 3 or 4 time during the course. Be aware of the 8-10 hour time difference between Sweden and Australia (Australia being ahead).

The Chaser's War on Everything is an Australian television comedy series broadcast on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) television station ABC TV. The series is produced by the Australian satirical group, The Chaser, consisting of Chris Taylor, Julian Morrow, Craig Reucassel, Andrew Hansen, and Chas Licciardello. Fellow Chaser members Dominic Knight and Charles Firth are not part of the regular on-screen cast. However, Knight is a writer, and Firth compiled roving reports for the show from the United States, until he left the group to start a satirical newspaper in mid-2007.

Australian Hip Hop
Morganics: Australian Hip Hop artist, performer, director and community worker.

Combat Wombat: Activists, artists, DJs, break beats and hip hop.

Schoolies Week
Schoolies or Schoolies week (known as Leavers' or Leavers' week in Western Australia) refers to the Australian tradition of high-school graduates (known as "Schoolies" or "Leavers") having week-long holidays following the end of their final exams in late November and early December.

Australian Rules Football. A game based on Gaelic football and very popular in the southern states of Australia. Here an Aboriginal team plays the Melbourne Bombers.

The Doof Scene
A doof is a type of outdoor dance party in Australia, generally held in a remote area and similar to raves or teknivals, but with a different, more empathetic atmosphere. Doofs generally have live electronic artists and DJs playing a range of electronic music, commonly Goa and psychedelic trance, now days there are clans like the Tribots that operate Trip Hop and a couple of groups that also do DJ Performances in Industrial, Punk Rock & Gabber. The word is used with an ironic liberality and can be used to describe the music, the event at which it gets played, and the dance that happens there. Example: "let's go to a doof, listen to some doof, and have a bit of a doof.", When one of the original members suggested Food Clan, it was revisited as 'Doof' Clan derived from the onomatopoeic sound of the kick drum used in electronic music frequently played at these events (as in "doof doof music") and the reversal of the word Food. One feature of the doof is the extravagant artwork and use of UV lighting. Fire twirling and toys are generally common at doofs.

Videos from Australian Alternative Culture

Australian Hip Hop artists and political activists Combat Wombat, with Police Brutality (Its a Reality)

Australian Film Industry Australia's film history has been characterized as one of 'boom and bust' due to the unstable and cyclical nature of its industry; there have been deep troughs when few films were made for decades and high peaks when a glut of films reached the market.
Australian film has a long history. Indeed, the earliest known feature length narrative film in the world was the Australian production The Story of the Kelly Gang (1906).
Arguably one of the world's first film studios, The Limelight Department was operated by The Salvation Army in Melbourne, Australia, between 1897 and 1910. The Limelight Department produced evangelical material for use by the Salvation Army, as well as private and government contracts. In its 19 years of operation, the Limelight Department produced about 300 films of various lengths, making it the largest film producer of its time. The major innovation of the Limelight Department would come in 1899 when Herbert Booth and Joseph Perry began work on Soldiers of the Cross, arguably the first feature length film ever produced. Soldiers of the Cross fortified the Limelight Department as a major player in the early film industry. However, Soldier of the Cross would be dwarfed when the Limelight Department was commissioned to film the Federation of Australia.

Australian Institute of Sport (AIS)
The Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) leads the development of elite sport and is widely acknowledged in Australia and internationally as a world best practice model for elite athlete development. The AIS is a pre-eminent elite sports training institution in Australia with world class facilities and support services. The Institute's headquarters is situated in Canberra, the capital city of Australia. The 65 hectare site campus is in the northern suburb of Bruce, but some of the institute's programs are located in other Australian cities. The AIS is a division of the Australian Sports Commission. The AIS has 35 sport programs in 26 sports.

Gallipoli by Peter Weir(1981)
When Australian film director Peter Weir, perhaps best known to American audiences for Witness and The Truman Show, was planning his next film after completing Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975), he wanted a story set in France depicting the big battles of 1916-1917. A friend suggested he make a film about the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) attack on Gallipoli. Unconvinced, he nevertheless traveled to Istanbul in 1976. After spending two days climbing the hills and wandering the trenches, Weir was struck by what he found: buttons, old leather belts and other items left behind by ANZAC forces. He decided then and there that he would indeed make a film about Gallipoli, saying, "I felt somehow I was really touching history."
His original idea was to tell a comprehensive story from enlistment in 1914 though the evacuation of Gallipoli near the end of 1915, but after several drafts, he was unhappy with the results. Instead, he decided to write a tale about two friends and their journey to war. The result is the outstanding anti-war film Gallipoli (1981).

Aboriginal Hip Hop (BBC Radio Documentary) Rap's the No1 sound for young Aboriginal people in Australia. They've connected with US rappers not only for their lyrics but also because they share the same colour skin. And now young Aborgines are using hip hop to tell their own stories. 1Xtra travels from the projects of Sydney to the outback in search of the new sound of Australia. It's rare to hear Aboriginal voices in mainstream Australian music, so can any of these MCs break through?

The Kranksy Sisters
The Kransky Sisters come from Esk, a real rural town in Queensland. The two eldest sisters, Mourne and Eve Kransky, are full biological sisters, and have lived together all their lives. Mourne and Eve's father was a travelling salesman for the (fictional) Asbestos Cookware Company. Their mother left their father to be with his brother, who is Arva and Dawn's father. The two brothers haven't spoken since, and Mourne and Eve ostracise Arva and Dawn, using their guilt over the affair to dominate them. The Kransky Sisters are an Australian musical comedy trio created, written and performed by Annie Lee (Mourne) and Christine Johnston (Eve) in collaboration with Michele Watt (Arva) and Carolyn Johns (Dawn). The Kransky Sisters tell offbeat and occasionally macabre stories and accompany these stories with strangely relevant covers of popular songs.


Chitra Ganesh - Tales of Amnesia detail (Godzilla) 2002-2007

Contemporary Art of India
The Empire Strikes Back: Art in India Today

A Passage to India
Passage to India is the fourth exhibition at Initial Access and will present new Indian art from the Frank Cohen Collection. It will showcase a selection of important painting and sculpture by a new generation of artists from India who are starting to take centre stage in the international contemporary art world.

Sunil Gupta

A Dance Party in Dharavi, a slum in Mumbai
The best part of the whole night was how everyone, like everyone of every color danced their ass off. I had a couple people from workshop say they haven't danced in years and they danced the whole night. So anyways at 10:30 we shut it down, we all ate samosas and called it a day. Damn, you can't capture that on camera or film (literally my camcorder showed up pitch black) it probably the craziest party i ever played and it was drugless and alcoholess.
Download the DJ Mix

Sheela Gowda

India’s Art, Booming and Shaking New York Times
FOR an uninitiated Westerner, making your way to one of this city’s new art galleries can be a disorienting study in contrasts. In the crowded streets behind the Taj Mahal Hotel Palace and Tower, where the air is heavy with the smell of gasoline and flowers, you are approached by women begging for money and food. Men shout invitations to enter their carpet shops or purchase wares like watches, magazines, leather jackets and cigarettes.
Then, from a narrow thoroughfare, you enter a courtyard where an old man sits wearing a black security uniform. He speaks no English but, when asked for directions, points toward a flight of wood stairs so worn they are bowed in the middle. At the top, a door is opened by a barefoot woman in a scarlet sari. Behind her is an art gallery as white and sleek as any space in Chelsea.

Jitish Kallat

Indian Art Now
Over the last decade, contemporary Indian art has gained prominence on the world stage. Artists from Bombay, Delhi, and Bangalore travel the globe to participate in prestigious exhibitions and fairs, while curators and collectors flock to these cities to explore their flourishing artistic communities.

NDTV New Delhi TV Good Times A lifestyle channel from India.

Bollywood (Hindi: बॉलीवुड, Urdu: بالی وڈ) is the informal term popularly used for Mumbai-based Hindi-language film industry in India. Bollywood is often incorrectly used to refer to the whole of Indian cinema; it is only a part of the Indian film industry. Bollywood is one of the largest film producers in the world, producing more than 1,000 films a year,[1] with ticket sales of 3.6 billion.[2] The name is a portmanteau of Bombay (the former name for Mumbai) and Hollywood, the center of the American film industry. However, unlike Hollywood, Bollywood does not exist as a real physical place. Though some deplore the name, arguing that it makes the industry look like a poor cousin to Hollywood, it seems likely to persist and now has its own entry in the Oxford English Dictionary. Bollywood is commonly referred to as Hindi cinema, even though Hindustani, the substratum common to both Hindi and Urdu, might be more accurate. Bollywood consists of the languages of Hindi, Urdu and English. The use of poetic Urdu words is fairly common. There has been a growing presence of Indian English in dialogue and songs as well. It is not uncommon to see films that feature dialogue with English words and phrases, even whole sentences. There are a growing number of English films. Wikipedia

The Cinema of India
Indian movies commonly include several song-and-dance routines. In high caliber movies, songs convey emotions and passions, ranging from love and pathos to triumph and celebration. In Indian movies, playback singers commonly sing the songs, and actors and actresses lip-sync them. The tunes of songs in an Indian movie strongly determine the extent of commercial success of the movie. Indian movies are usually two to three hours long, often with an intermission. They feature romance, comedy, action, and suspense. The Indian Censor Board oversees the contents of the movies.
Dance sequence taken from Devdas (2002) the most expensive production so far from Mumbai.

Bride and Prejudice is a 2004 Bollywood-style adaptation of Jane Austen's 1813 novel Pride and Prejudice.
Lalita: There's so much to see in India, Mrs. Darcy; you must come sometime.
Mrs. Darcy: (with slight hostility) Well, if I had a hotel I might have. But with yoga and spices and Deepak Chopra and wonderful Eastern things here, I suppose there's just no point in traveling there anymore.
Lalita: Well, I don't know about that. After all, people haven't stopped going to Italy just because Pizza Hut's opened around the corner.

The Hindu METRO PLUS throws the spotlight on what's happening in the city. Events, Music, Heritage, Lifestyle, People, Fashion, Dining Out and Sport are the broad categories finding expression on this supplement's pages. Capturing the pulse of the city and its changing lifestyle, it caters for the information and entertainment needs of a cross-section of readers. The site gets updated on days specified against each city.


Asian Dub Foundation: The Real Great Britain

Uploaded Image

SoulDeep is the artist name of Rav Dhillion from Essex and of Punjabi background. He sings and raps in English and Punjabi. Musical influences are R&B, rap, hip hop, and 'world music'. While not exactly famous Rav is a good example of someone who has blended elements of culture from numerous traditions and brought them into the contemporary culture of (post) modern England.

Talvin Singh - Devotion
Talvin Singh (Matharoo) (born in 1970 in Leytonstone, London, England) is a British DJ and tabla player, known for creating an innovative fusion of classical Indian music and drum n bass. Talvin Singh is generally considered involved with an electronica sub genre called Asian Underground.
Singh grew up in Leytonstone and began playing the tabla, breakdancing and listening to punk rock as a child. At the age of 15, Singh went to India where he studied tabla under Pandit Lashman Singh, but he returned to the UK after just one year. In spite of this classical training, Singh's tabla playing was not accepted by British promoters of classical Indian music, as he incorporated too strongly his western influences.

Mathangi "Maya" Arulpragasam (born July 17, 1975) is a British vocalist, songwriter, composer, record producer and visual artist, and a Tamil of Jaffna origin. Best known by her stage name, M.I.A., her work in music often features a range of elements of genres including grime, Funk Carioca, hip-hop, ragga, dancehall and electro.
An accomplished visual artist by 2002, M.I.A. came to prominence in early 2004 through file-sharing of her singles "Galang" and "Sunshowers" on the Internet. In 2005, her debut album, Arular, was nominated for the Mercury Prize. Her second album, Kala, was released in 2007 and awarded the title Album of the Year by both Blender and Rolling Stone. M.I.A. was also included on USA Today's "100 Most Interesting People of 2007".

UK Black podcast
UK Black is 20 minutes of talk show highlights from African and Caribbean programmes on BBC Local Radio. Download your snapshot of contemporary Black Britain every Monday.

Hard Times of Old England Retold
by The Imagined Village (Billy Bragg)

For five generations my family have farmed
By horse and by tractor and by hoe and by hand
But that won't stave off the bank's latest demand.

Singing oh the hard times of Old England
In Old England very hard times.

Time was I could sell what I grew at the shop
Then Tesco's turned up and all that had to stop
Now I can't make a living out of my crop.


More and more of our village gets sold every day
To folks from the city who are happy to pay
But their halls and their cottages stand empty all day


The Countryside Alliance expects my support I suppose
When they're marching to bloody Blair's nose
But they said not a word when our post office closed.


The hedgerows my grandfather tended have gone
And with them the Lapwing and Corn Crake's sad song
No fear Ill be carring on before long.


And now to conclude and finish my song
Let's hope that these hard times they will not last long
And I may soon have occaision to alter my song
And sing Oh the good times of Old England
In Old England such very good times.
The Imagined Village
The Imagined Village was a 2007 project by a goup of performers based in England but coming from a variety of cultural and ethnic backgrounds. The title is taken from the book, The Imagined Village: Culture, Ideology and the English Folk Revival by Georgina Boyes (1993). Performers in the group included

Benjamin Zephaniah
Billy Bragg
Chris Wood
Eliza Carthy
Johnny Kalsi
Martin Carthy
Paul Weller
Sheila Chandra
Simon Emmerson
The Copper Family
The Gloworms
Tiger Moth
Trans-Global Underground

Video and audio of the group are available online

Tam Lyn (retold) by Benjamin Zephaniah with The Imagined Village
Tam Lin is the hero of a Borders' legend about fairies and mortal men. While this ballad is unique to Scotland, the motif of capturing a person by holding him through all forms of transformation is found throughout Europe in folktales. Tam is the Scots pet-form of Thomas; one of several "Thomases" in myth, such as True Thomas also known as Thomas the Rhymer.

Rishi Rich (born Rishpal Singh Rekhi) is a British Asian music producer based in London, UK. He is internationally known for his bhangra tracks as well as Hindi remixes. He has also produced remixes for various mainstream artists such as Madonna and Britney Spears, Mis-Teeq, Craig David and Aqua's Lene Nystrøm. In the past, he has produced many remix albums, for example Love 2 Love. Recently, he has produced two solo albums, including his latest album The Project.

Mentor Kolektiv
Mentor Kolektiv are a British Asian, Bhangra group. The Mentor Kolektiv, headed by Mentor (born May 14) consists of punjabi vocalist Des-C, rapper MC A.C.,and DJ Mr Mak. Today the Mentor Kolektiv present 'The Jump Off' on the BBC Asian Network every Saturday from 5.00-8.00.

Jay Sean (born Kamaljit Singh Jhooti on March 26, 1981); is a British Asian R&B singer, best known for his hits "Stolen", "Eyes On You" and "Ride It". He has released two albums, Me Against Myself and My Own Way along with four top 20 hits in the UK singles chart.

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