I was writing a review on Shtetl Superstars, when I realised that I really don’t like the term ‘World Music’. Surely, all music should be world music, since we’re all part of the same world? The unspoken implication of ‘World Music’ is often Music from somewhere that isn’t the U.S. or the better known parts of Europe. ‘Roots Music’ is a little better, but it’s still not right. It implies a a kind of museum music, something stuck in the past, reproducing and preserving what’s gone. There’s nothing wrong with that, in its way, but a lot of Roots Music is vibrantly situated in the present. It’s as much about leaves and flowers as it is about roots. It’s about the present and future as well as the past, about growing up in a new environment, incorporating the musical culture around you into the culture of your parents or grandparents, and transforming it into something new which expresses your own unique situation.
Music isn’t just entertainment; it’s an expression of life and identity, and a part of human nature which is as unique and essential as language.