Musical Migrants

Stories of people who relocated to other countries, influenced by music.

Episodes

SeriesEpisodeTitleFirst
Broadcast
RepeatedComments
0101From Japan To Chicago2008050520090707
20080903 (WS)
20080904 (WS)
20080906 (WS)
20080907 (WS)

Japanese singer Yoko Noge became passionate about the blues as a schoolgirl.

After her mother's suicide, she set off for Chicago, the capital of blues music.

Her first stop was a Westside joint, where master bluesman Willie Kent was playing.

When Yoko told him she had come so far just for the music, he asked her to sing.

0102From England To Scotland *2008050620090714

Scotland-based band Lau won the 2008 Radio 2 Folk Music Best Group Award.

Lau comprises two Scottish musicians and English accordionist Martin Green, who describes how Scotland's astonishingly vibrant folk music scene lured him north.

English accordionist Martin Green plays with Scotland-based folk band Lau.

0103From New York To Rio De Janeiro2008050720090721

In the early 90s, Scott Feiner was a successful jazz guitarist on the highly competitive New York circuit before he became disillusioned and gave up.

Then he discovered Brazilian music.

He became entranced and visited Rio de Janeiro, where a brief encounter changed his life.

0104From Belgium To Buenos Aires *2008050820090728

Despite having little interest in Argentina or tango music, Belgian bandoneon player Eva Wolff won a scholarship and arrived in Buenos Aires in 2002, soon after Argentina's catastrophic economic meltdown.

The slump triggered a post-crisis tango renaissance and, as Eva relates, the tango scene is now more vital than at any time since it first developed in the city's slums.

Belgian bandoneon player Eva Wolff enthuses about the Argentinian tango scene.

0105 LASTFrom North To South *2008050920090804

Stories of people who relocated to other lands, influenced by music.

In the early 1970s, Bruce Greene left New Jersey to embark on a decade-long road trip around Kentucky and the Southern Appalachians to collect old time fiddle tunes and immerse himself in the traditional music that is part of that landscape.

He yearned for the sort of lifestyle that the music seemed to convey and which he now recreates at his home in a log cabin in the North Carolina mountains.

Bruce Greene left New Jersey to collect old time fiddle tunes.

0201Jamaica2009051820130101 (BBC7)

Born in England and raised in Canada, Maureen Sheridan was widowed suddenly while still in her 20s.

In the midst of bereavement, reggae music lifted her out of depression.

So strong was its effect that she moved to Jamaica with her two young daughters, and though she had no musical background, before long Maureen was doing much more than just listening to reggae.

: Maureen Sheridan tells her story - moving her young family to the home of reggae after the death of her husband.

0202Germany *20090519

A yearning to see where the composers whose music she loved to play had lived took violinist Amber Mcpherson from the USA to Leipzig, the city where Bach spent half his life.

But getting to know the tradition from which Bach came forced Amber to re-examine everything she had previously learnt.

0203Spain *20090520

In 1992, osteopath Mark Shurey happened to be catch a broadcast from the Seville Expo on television.

Famous flamenco guitarist Paco De Lucia was playing and Mark's life was changed forever.

After that, his days working for the NHS in Norwich were numbered.

0204Ireland *20090521

Stella Rodrigues' complex family roots are Dutch, Portuguese, Indonesian and Indian, but it was in Ireland that she found her music, her home and herself.

0205 LASTGeorgia *20090522

Fighting had just broken out when Carl Linich made his first visit to Georgia in 1991, but not even the threat of civil war could quell his passion for the country's extraordinary folk music.

And, a few years later, the upstate New Yorker moved there.

0301Nashville2011101720120110

Five portraits of people who relocated to other countries, influenced by music.

The man now known as Jesse Lee Jones went by a different name when he was living in Brazil. His decision to change his name was an expression of his desire to reinvent himself following his move to the USA.

Throughout a difficult upbringing, Jesse Lee always found solace in American music and dreamed of being there, but as a young man, he "was going nowhere fast". Then, out of the blue, the members of his church, in an effort to help him, clubbed together and bought him a plane ticket. Shortly afterwards, Jesse Lee arrived in Miami, Florida with a 12 string guitar but no English and no plan. On his first day, while travelling on a Greyhound Bus, he was robbed of the few possessions he had - including his money and that guitar.

He got off the bus in Peoria, Illinois. Out of pity, some people from a local church took him in. They became his "American family" and Peoria was his home for the next decade. Jesse Lee took a series of jobs (including training as a law enforcement officer) but he kept up with the music on the side - playing all kinds of American music in local bars. Then a friend gave him a CD by the country and western legend Marty Robbins. After that, Jesse Lee realised that his true passion was traditional country music. He headed to Nashville and got a job scrubbing the decks of the General Jackson Showboat for $3.25 an hour. However, within a few years, a series of serendipitous encounters led to his becoming first leader of the house band, then owner, of the "best honkytonk in Nashville" right in the heart of Lower Broadway.

Producer: Rachel Hopkin

A Falling Tree Production for BBC Radio 4.

Jesse Lee Jones explains how his love of country music took him from Brazil to Nashville.

The man now known as Jesse Lee Jones went by a different name when he was living in Brazil.

His decision to change his name was an expression of his desire to reinvent himself following his move to the USA.

Throughout a difficult upbringing, Jesse Lee always found solace in American music and dreamed of being there, but as a young man, he "was going nowhere fast".

Then, out of the blue, the members of his church, in an effort to help him, clubbed together and bought him a plane ticket.

Shortly afterwards, Jesse Lee arrived in Miami, Florida with a 12 string guitar but no English and no plan.

On his first day, while travelling on a Greyhound Bus, he was robbed of the few possessions he had - including his money and that guitar.

He got off the bus in Peoria, Illinois.

Out of pity, some people from a local church took him in.

They became his "American family" and Peoria was his home for the next decade.

Jesse Lee took a series of jobs (including training as a law enforcement officer) but he kept up with the music on the side - playing all kinds of American music in local bars.

Then a friend gave him a CD by the country and western legend Marty Robbins.

After that, Jesse Lee realised that his true passion was traditional country music.

He headed to Nashville and got a job scrubbing the decks of the General Jackson Showboat for $3.25 an hour.

However, within a few years, a series of serendipitous encounters led to his becoming first leader of the house band, then owner, of the "best honkytonk in Nashville" right in the heart of Lower Broadway.

0302Milan2011101820120117

Five portraits of people who relocated to other countries, influenced by music.

Pedro Carrillo is from Venezuela. He fell in love with Italian opera when he was five years old and heard a recording of Verdi's Rigoletto playing in his father's study.

When he grew up, Pedro fulfilled his childhood ambition and began singing regularly in the main theatre of Caracas. However, not long into his career, the political regime in Venezuela encroached on the nation's cultural life and Pedro, who had not hidden his anti-government views, found himself blacklisted. For three years - "three terrible years" - he was unable to work as a singer. He grew depressed. His voice suffered. He thought about giving up.

Eventually, despite many misgivings and his love for his homeland, he decided to emigrate. He moved, with his wife Victoria, to Milan - the city of La Scala and of Verdi. There, in the birthplace of opera, he had to start again and rebuild his career from zero.

Producer: Rachel Hopkin

A Falling Tree Production for BBC Radio 4.

A Venezuelan opera singer now living in Italy was forced to make a life-changing decision.

Pedro Carrillo is from Venezuela.

He fell in love with Italian opera when he was five years old and heard a recording of Verdi's Rigoletto playing in his father's study.

When he grew up, Pedro fulfilled his childhood ambition and began singing regularly in the main theatre of Caracas.

However, not long into his career, the political regime in Venezuela encroached on the nation's cultural life and Pedro, who had not hidden his anti-government views, found himself blacklisted.

For three years - "three terrible years" - he was unable to work as a singer.

He grew depressed.

His voice suffered.

He thought about giving up.

Eventually, despite many misgivings and his love for his homeland, he decided to emigrate.

He moved, with his wife Victoria, to Milan - the city of La Scala and of Verdi.

There, in the birthplace of opera, he had to start again and rebuild his career from zero.

A Venezuelan opera singer now living in Italy is the subject of today's programme.

0303Zanzibar2011101920130102

Yusuf Mahmoud swapped Cheltenham for Zanzibar because of his love of African music.

Watching the Live Aid concert on television in the mid 80s changed the life of Englishman, Yusuf Mahmoud. At the time, Yusuf was working as a milkman in Cheltenham and doing the odd bit of DJ-ing, but when he realised that music could be used as a tool for change he got involved in music promotion and festival organising for the Anti-Apartheid movement and similar operations.

After several years of doing that, an opportunity arose for him to work at the first Zanzibar International Film Festival. Driven by his interest in the music of the region, he headed off to Tanzania intending to stay for only 6 months. Thirteen years on, he's still there and has set up the Sauti Za Busara Festival - a thriving festival that promotes the music of East Africa.

Tanzania is one of the poorest countries in the world; Yusuf is used to going for months without power and his daily shower consists of a beaker and a bucket of water. Yet such things don't faze him because - he says - he's nourished by the cultural richness of his adopted land.

Produced by Rachel Hopkin

A Falling Tree Production for BBC Radio 4.

Five portraits of people who relocated to other countries, influenced by music.

Watching the Live Aid concert on television in the mid 80s changed the life of Englishman, Yusuf Mahmoud.

At the time, Yusuf was working as a milkman in Cheltenham and doing the odd bit of DJ-ing, but when he realised that music could be used as a tool for change he got involved in music promotion and festival organising for the Anti-Apartheid movement and similar operations.

After several years of doing that, an opportunity arose for him to work at the first Zanzibar International Film Festival.

Driven by his interest in the music of the region, he headed off to Tanzania intending to stay for only six months.

Thirteen years on, he's still there and has set up the Sauti Za Busara Festival - a thriving festival that promotes the music of East Africa.

Tanzania is one of the poorest countries in the world; Yusuf is used to going for months without power and his daily shower consists of a beaker and a bucket of water.

Yet such things don't phase him because - he says - he's nourished by the cultural richness of his adopted land.

Producer: Rachel Hopkin

Today's migrant swapped Cheltenham for Zanzibar because of his love of African music.

0304Cajun2011102020120124

Five portraits of people who relocated to other countries, influenced by music.

We join Ann Savoy cooking up some chicken sauce piquant in the kitchen of her traditional Arcadian home in Eunice, Louisiana, in the heart of Cajun country.

Ann was born in Richmond, Virginia and was raised to be a 'southern lady'. But her love for the wild freedom she found in Cajun music drew her to relocate to the Deep South and the prairies of south-western Louisiana - an area which she describes as 'Virginia blown to smithereens'. There, alongside her husband Marc Savoy (who hails from a Cajun family with many generations of musicians), Ann earned her stripes by playing Cajun guitar for hours at all-night parties out on the bayou, while gumbo bubbled away in trash cans. She also began documenting the old-time Cajun musicians and their way of life, interviewing some of the greats like Dennis McGee and Wade Fruge, whilst also raising a family who are now forming the new generation of Cajun musicians.

Producer: Rachel Hopkin

A Falling Tree Production for BBC Radio 4.

The wild freedom of Cajun music lured today's migrant to Louisiana.

Ann was born in Richmond, Virginia and was raised to be a 'southern lady'.

But her love for the wild freedom she found in Cajun music drew her to relocate to the Deep South and the prairies of south-western Louisiana - an area which she describes as 'Virginia blown to smithereens'.

There, alongside her husband Marc Savoy (who hails from a Cajun family with many generations of musicians), Ann earned her stripes by playing Cajun guitar for hours at all-night parties out on the bayou, while gumbo bubbled away in trash cans.

She also began documenting the old-time Cajun musicians and their way of life, interviewing some of the greats like Dennis McGee and Wade Fruge, whilst also raising a family who are now forming the new generation of Cajun musicians.

0305 LASTNorway2011102120120131

Five portraits of people who relocated to other countries, influenced by music.

Daniel Sanden-Warg grew up in Sweden listening to rock giants. As a teenager, he appeared on Swedish television playing the guitar a la Jimi Hendrix (including behind his back and with his teeth). Then a new boy arrived at his school and through him, Daniel discovered folk music, specifically the hardanger fiddle tradition of Norway's Setesdal Valley. Of hearing this music for the first time, he says "it was life-changing for me. I was sure at once that this is what I want to do. This is the music I want to play. I have to get good at it, and if I'm going to be poor, I don't care, that's going to be my life, that's it."

Daniel's dream was to study with the man who'd played on the first recording he heard - Hallvard Bjorgum. After practising for hours each day for months, he sent Hallvard a demo tape and waited anxiously for a response. On Christmas Eve, Hallvard called him. He told Daniel that his playing reminded him of his father and that he could come and study with him any time.

So Daniel moved to the extraordinary Setesdal valley in the south of Norway - an area famed for centuries for its fiddlers and where folklife is cherished. He became fully absorbed into the culture. He played side by side with Hallvard, built his own traditional log cabin, and learned the ancient art of silver-smithing - a craft typically practised by Setesdal fiddlers because it is gentler on their fingers than, for example, logging. Daniel, whom Hallvard describes as a genius, is now one of the most sought-after hardanger fiddle players in the world.

Producer: Rachel Hopkin

A Falling Tree Production for BBC Radio 4.

Daniel Sanden-Warg was drawn to Norway for the hardanger fiddle - its national instrument.

Daniel Sanden-Warg grew up in Sweden listening to rock giants.

As a teenager, he appeared on Swedish television playing the guitar a la Jimi Hendrix (including behind his back and with his teeth).

Then a new boy arrived at his school and through him, Daniel discovered folk music, specifically the hardanger fiddle tradition of Norway's Setesdal Valley.

Of hearing this music for the first time, he says "it was life-changing for me.

I was sure at once that this is what I want to do.

This is the music I want to play.

I have to get good at it, and if I'm going to be poor, I don't care, that's going to be my life, that's it."

Daniel's dream was to study with the man who'd played on the first recording he heard - Hallvard Bjorgum.

After practising for hours each day for months, he sent Hallvard a demo tape and waited anxiously for a response.

On Christmas Eve, Hallvard called him.

He told Daniel that his playing reminded him of his father and that he could come and study with him any time.

So Daniel moved to the extraordinary Setesdal valley in the south of Norway - an area famed for centuries for its fiddlers and where folklife is cherished.

He became fully absorbed into the culture.

He played side by side with Hallvard, built his own traditional log cabin, and learned the ancient art of silver-smithing - a craft typically practised by Setesdal fiddlers because it is gentler on their fingers than, for example, logging.

Daniel, whom Hallvard describes as a genius, is now one of the most sought-after hardanger fiddle players in the world.