On Tuesday November 14th in New York, Public Radio International's Afropop Worldwide inducted Habib Koite from Mali, Vusi Mahlasela from South Africa and Dobet Gnahore from the Ivory Coast into the Afropop Hall of Fame. They join the ranks of past inductees including Baaba Maal & Mansour Seck, Youssou N'Dour, Thomas Mapfumo, and the Mahotella Queens. All are honored for their artistic excellence and their significant success in connecting Americans with Africa. Dobet Gnahore won first prize in a new category for 2006--the Afropop Hall of Fame's Emerging Artist of the Year.
The 2006 Afropop Hall of Fame took place before a rapturous, sold-out crowd at the B.B. King Club in New York City as part of the hugely successful "Putumayo Presents: Acoustic Africa" U.S. tour. Unlike a typical three-set presentation, KoitŽ, Mahlasela and GnahorŽ all performed on each other's songs, and interchanged musicians in constantly shifting lineups that added new textures and vocal power to familiar songs, and broke new ground as well. This novel way of presenting mixed sets was the brainchild of Michel de Bock, head of the Belgian record label Contre Jour which was the first company to release internationally the work of Habib Koite and Dobet Gnahore.
Afropop Worldwide is the internationally syndicated public radio series hosted by Georges Collinet from Cameroon. Afropop Worldwide Executive Producer Sean Barlow said, "For nearly twenty years, we have had the honor of introducing American listeners and more recently the global on-line community to the music and stories of Africa and the African Diaspora. We created the Afropop Hall Of Fame in order to give under-recognized African artists the respect and celebration they so richly deserve. These artists have lifted the souls of the ever-widening circle of Afropop fans and we want to give something back to them."