World Music used to be a genre for purists. Music from specific ethnic groups using traditional instruments or vocal styles would be seen as representative of that particular country or culture.Now, things have become much more scattered. The lines of what defines World Music are blurred because more and more artists one would consider in the "mainstream" of rock and pop are using ethnic influences in their work. Some collaborate with a popular artist or band from a non-Western or non-English culture, having them sing backup or even collaborating on songwriting. Paul Simon did this with Ladysmith Black Mambazo, a band from South Africa few Westerners had ever heard of until Graceland came out. Peter Gabriel is another example -- his work with Senegalese performer Youssou N'Dour is considered some of his best, such as the powerful song of women's rights "Shaking The Tree." Gabriel is also an ambassador of World Music, having spearheaded Real World Records, a recording company devoted to distributing emerging artists. There are other artists who come from a specific cultural background and have "assimilated" so to speak, into the rock/pop world. The Cranberries, for example, is an Irish band that has found its way onto the North American charts. However, such acts may still draw upon their backgrounds, paying tribute to the music that surrounded them in their childhood. Lead singer Dolores O'Riordan's voice resonates with the traditional, quivering, Irish female vocal style. Some American acts even borrow sounds from other cultures. Black 47 is New York-based band who takes Irish influences and makes them their own. And with them, it doesn't stop with Celtic uilleann pipes -- they round out their rock sounds with rap and hip hop. Not bad for a bunch of boys in blue with the NYPD.
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