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MICHELE NORRIS, host:

From NPR News, this is All Things Considered. I'm Michele Norris. We live in a world of choices from the countless tracks you can download to your iPod, to the hundreds of channels available on cable and the dozens of different ethnic cuisines you can find in the frozen food section of the grocery store. All these choices can be overwhelming, but fortunately, when it comes to world music, we have a guy to connect us with the artist performing some of the most interesting music this planet has to offer. His name is Charlie Gillett. He's a DJ with the BBC, and he's just released his latest compilation CD of world music called "Beyond the Horizon." Charlie Gillett joins us now from London. Welcome back to the program.

Mr. CHARLIE GILLETT (DJ, BBC): Hello, Michele.

NORRIS: Well, let's plow to some of the music that's included in this compilation. I want to begin with a track by Jorge Drexler. It's called "Disneylandia," and this is an artist from Uruguay. Tell us a little bit more about this as we listen.

Mr. GILLETT: The theme of this, as far as I can figure it out, is that the singer is describing the many people in the world, the plight that they are in and what brings them together, what they have in common with each other.

(Soundbite of song "Disneylandia")

Mr. JORGE DREXLER: (Singing in Spanish) Hijo de inmigrantes rusos casado en Argentina con una pintora judiĆ­a, se casa por segunda vez con una princesa africana en Mexico. Musica hindu contrabandeada por gitanos polacos se vuelve un exito en el interior de Bolivia.

NORRIS: The lyrics in the song are really interesting. A son of Russian immigrants married in Argentina to a Jewish painter gets married for the second time to an African princess in Mexico. It goes on and on and on it. It really paints this sort of operatic picture with all these characters.

Mr. GILLETT: Yeah. And once you begin to get a feel of what it might be about is interesting. Every time I hear it, I hear another word that I didn't notice the first time. And I find that happens a lot with listening to songs that are not in my own language that you hear - you just hear words, not necessarily the meaning, but the meaning comes through usually in the emotion that you sing in.

(Soundbite of song "Disneylandia")

Mr. DREXLER: (Singing in Spanish) Para entrarda en Disneylandia.

NORRIS: I want to listen to this song by Simphiwe Dana - and I hope I'm pronouncing this correct.

Mr. GILLETT: You're doing really well. Yeah.

NORRIS: "Bantu Biko Street."

(Soundbite of song "Bantu Biko Street")

NORRIS: It's music that makes you want to go on a journey. Doesn't it sound like?

Mr. GILLETT: Yes, yes. I mean, I find that the journey is often in my head. I must admit that I don't take as many physical journeys as people might imagine. And I'm sure in this ecological age where you're not supposed to burn up too many carbon whatever it is in planes, this is the way to travel.

NORRIS: Oh, listen to world music and reduce your carbon footprint.

Mr. GILLETT: Exactly.

NORRIS: There you go.

Mr. GILLETT: Exactly.

(Soundbite of song "Bantu Biko Street")

NORRIS: And we talked about Simphiwe Dana, it's not surprising that you'd have music that represents black South Africa on a CD, because there's so much wonderful music that comes out of that - that part of the world and that culture. Less well-known are white South African artists, and you include one of those artist on the CD.

Md. GILLETT: Well, I'm glad you noticed that. It was a bit of a surprise to me and I amused myself by putting the two of them next to each other. First, Simphiwe and then this man called Gert Vlok Nel. And the song is about a man who has noticed that a woman that he used to go out with has now got married to somebody else. And he wonders does she remember some of the experiences that they shared together in the backseat of his car and various little glimpses of the past come through. And it's another of those songs you - every now and then hear an English phrase in the Afrikaans.

(Soundbite of song "Beautiful in Beaufort Wes")

Mr. GERT VLOK NEL: (Singing in Afrikaans and English) En jy was beautiful in Beaufort-Wes En ek was so verskrik en verskriklik lief vir jou En jy het op grafte en op treine En op Ford Fairlaine se agterseats gevry En nou is jy en jou man both computer analysts En laas winter you tried to cut your wrists En nou kan jy nie meer slaap nie, nie meer lag nie, Nie meer iets vir jouself doen nie, Nooit ooit weer vir my soen nie

NORRIS: Now, you actually discovered an artist that's included on this compilation through a cab driver that you were speaking with in Morocco.

Mr. GILLETT: Yes, I did. That was good fun. That's Ishan(ph), a driver of a Mercedes in Marrakesh. So, we set off on our journey to the high upmost(ph) mountains. And the first thing he did was to put on a CD by Supertramp and I complained vehemently and said come on this is not what we've come to hear.

NORRIS: The 1970s rock group, Supertramp?

Mr. GILLETT: That's Supertramp, indeed. So, he took that off and slipped in the greatest hits of Nancy Ajram, who is a Lebanese singer who you do hear wherever you go, in, I was going to say, the Middle East. Morocco hardly feels like the Middle East in some ways, but it is one musical culture from Lebanon through Egypt to Tunis and Algeria all the way to Morocco.

(Soundbite of song "Baddalaa Aleyk")

NORRIS: When you listen to music particularly on music that comes from the Arab world, tell me about the difference in listening in your studio, but actually hearing that music in context as you're driving through the streets of Morocco.

Mr. GILLETT: Now, it's a great question because one can listen to music in the cold office or wherever it is I sit in and put the CDs on. And they may or may not attract my attention, but if you're driving along and the landscape is whizzing beside you and the people that you see on the streets are visually similar to the people whose music one is listening to, it makes a huge difference. And funny enough, I find the same thing if I go to the United States and go through the southern states - you're going driving in Tennessee or Mississippi - you feel - if you could find music which feels like it was made in such a place, it really changes how it sounds.

(Soundbite of song "Baddalaa Aleyk")

NORRIS: Charlie, it's always good to talk to you.

Mr. GILLETT: Great pleasure to me, Michele. Thank you.

(Soundbite of song "Baddalaa Aleyk")

NORRIS: That's DJ Charlie Gillett of the BBC. He pulled together the CD "Beyond the Horizon" a selection of the best music from around the world. You can listen to entire songs that he recommends at npr.org/music. You're listening to All Things Considered from NPR News.

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