The only way to truly branch out when to listening to music is to listen to music from other parts of the world. Many of us are so sheltered when it comes to music, whether it’s listening to only one radio station or one genre or, in this case, only one language. How can one truly appreciate music when that person is only listening to 10% of the music out there?
That’s where Putumayo World Music comes into play. Putumayo is basically a record label that puts out hundreds of different compilation albums based on different regions of the world. It started in 1993 and continues to introduce us to amazing artists to this day, both for adults (Putumayo World) and for kids (Putumayo Kids).
I first discovered Putumayo about four years ago when I checked out one of their Putumayo Kids CDs called Hawaiian Playground. The cover is what caught my eye at first, and I thought the songs would be fun for my then 6-month-old daughter to hear in the car.
Well, the album was awesome, and I was hooked. I decided I was going to start collecting as many Putumayo albums as I could (project!!), and thanks to the wonderful libraries to which I belonged, I found many.
To date, Putumayo has churned out 213 albums. 213! That’s many, many hours of music. I’m nowhere near that, but I’m getting there. All the albums are pretty awesome, but here are 13 of my personal faves that I highly recommend you go listen to if given the opportunity.
IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER:
Acoustic France (2008)
- “Sombre Con” by Rose
- “Quotidien” by Sandrine Kiberlain
- “Clash Dans Le Tempo” by Constance Amiot
- “Doly” by 4 Etoiles
- “Anoma” by OOM
- “Wassiye” by Habib Koite & Bamada
Brazilian Beat (2012)
- “Samba Na Mao, Eu Tenho” by Tamy
- “A Coisa Mais Linda Do Mundo” by Monica Da Silva
- “Feriado Pessoal” by Bruna Caram
Celtic Dreamland (2007)
- “Cagaran Gaolach” by Mary Jane Lamond
- “A Phluirin Mhillis” Susan McKeown
- “Ye Banks and Braes” by The Cast
Celtic Tides (1998)
- “Caledonia” by Dougie MacLean
- “An Gabhar Ban” by Clannad
- “The Maid on the Shore” by Solas
Gypsy Groove (2007)
- “Zsa Manca” by Deladap
- “Yor Uzga” by Karen Gafurdjanov
- “Amari Szi, Amari” by Luminescent Orchestril
Hawaiian Playground (2008)
- “Right On” by The Moonlighters
- “Po La’iIa’i” by Raiatea
- “Holoholo Ka’a” by Willie K
- “Il Mare Mi Salva” by Rossomalpelo
- “Gina” by Lu Colombo
- “L’Americano” by Marco Calliari
Jazz Around the World (2009)
- “La Mer” by Chantal Chamberland
- “Young and Naive” by Heather Rigdon
- “Te Reo o Papatuanuku” by Kataraina Pipi
Music from the Wine Lands (2006)
- “Tita” by Pauline Croze
- “Puerto Claridad” by Amparanoia
- “Liebe” by 2raumwohnung
- “Cette Ville” by Mathieu Mathieu
- “Un Homme” by Annie Villenueve
- “Brulots” by Chloe Sainte-Marie
Salsa Around the World (2007)
- “Flores y Tambores” by Orquesta de la Luz
- “Havana Mambo” by Malanina
- “Haris Catsimichas” by Forest Flower
Turkish Groove (2006)
- “Kimizi Biber” by Bendeniz
- “Sinanay” by Gulseren
- “Dudu” by Tarkan
Besides the awesome music these albums contain, I can’t help but swoon over the album covers. The artwork is done by Nicola Heindl, and if I could have actual prints based on all these albums, I would totally cover my walls with them. Or maybe a Page-a-Day Calendar that has one album cover a day. Maybe I could make that myself! Anyway, LOVE THEM.
Of course because I’m a collector, half the fun in all this is the actual search for all these albums. I’ve purchased some, but only because I hadn’t been able to find them at libraries. I currently have five albums on request from the Hennepin County library, meaning they’re being sent to my local library two minutes from my house so I can pick them up there instead of driving all over the place to find them. Don’t get me wrong, I love going to new libraries and discovering new Putumayo CDs, but sometimes this way is just easier.
Of course all the libraries aren’t going to have all 213 albums, which means there are some that I may never find. Some albums on my wish list that I have yet to find are as follows:
- Islands (1997)
- Romantica (1998)
- Women of Spirit (1998)
- Italian Musical Odyssey (1999)
I’ve never seen those albums at any library or any store, but time will tell. I may get lucky.
Up until last year, Putumayo albums were only available for purchase at music stores like Barnes and Noble and at Whole Foods. But thankfully you can now buy them on iTunes (for a lot cheaper, too). The only downside is that you can only download the albums from 2012 and later. Anything older than that you can only get the actual CD. But Amazon carries a bunch, and finding a used CD for cheap isn’t too difficult.
But the search aside, it all comes back to discovering new music and opening your eyes to all the different cultures in this world. There’s more to music than just what you hear on the radio or see on MTV (well, USED to see when they actually played videos) or purchase on iTunes. There’s a whole world out there just waiting for you to hear it.
So open your ears. You won’t regret it.