Global Minstrels: Voices of World Music is a fascinating collection of interviews Elijah Wald (former Boston Globe music critic) carried out while living in Boston. This means the book focuses primarily on international artists that toured the Boston area of the United States. Therefore, it is not a collection of the best or better known world music artists, but rather a sampling of great musicians who visited the United States.
The artists featured include stars like Caetano Veloso, Ravi Shankar, Paco de Lucía, and King Sunny Ade, as well as lesser-known musicians. Some of the musicians provide insightful information about their music and feelings, while others are not very talkative. It’s hard to determine if the real personality of a musician can be revealed with one interview, while on a tour.
Wald divides the chapters by regional area and later by genre. He begins the book with Africa. Thankfully, his focus goes well beyond West Africa. In addition to featuring the ever popular Malian artists like the late Ali Farka Toure and Oumou Sangare, Wald talks to artists from Nigeria, Congo, South Africa, Zimbabwe and lesser known (musically) parts of the vast African continent: Kenya and the island nation of Madagascar.
Next he travels to the Caribbean, where he looks into the sounds of the English, Spanish and French-speaking Caribbean with a special focus on artists from the powerhouse of Cuba: Eliades Ochoa, Compay Segundo, Los Van Van, etc..
There are also chapters dedicated to South America, North Africa and the Arab World, Western and Central Asia and East Asia. There is even a chapter dedicated to the United States. Even though many US citizens don’t consider American roots music world music, Wald does ([just like World Music Central] . He includes styles like American Indian (also known as Native American and Aboriginal American) music, Hawaiian and Mexican-American.