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Up until 1959, Cuba was one of the most influential sources of popular music styles in the world: Cuban dance crazes such as the mambo, chacha, and rumba had swept the Americas and Europe, while in extensive regions of Africa the Cuban son had dominated the popular music landscape. Cuban rhythms had also left a profound imprint on U.S. jazz (J. S. Roberts, 1985; Boggs, 1992) and even, to a lesser extent, rock music (Palmer, 1988). Indeed, only African American jazz and rhythm-and-blues have had a stronger and more continuous impact on musical developments worldwide. After the revolution, however, Cuba virtually disappeared from the popular music landscape in the United States, a victim of the Trading with the Enemy Act, which effectively blocked entry by Cuban music and musicians.
After going into exile, Cuban-born musicians such as Celia Cruz were able to develop successful careers in the United States, but travel and trade restrictions (not to mention ideological conflicts) blocked or dramatically reduced their direct connections with Cuba. And even though Cuban rhythms provided the framework for the new style of Latin dance music called salsa that emerged in the mid-1960s, they were drawn from prerevolutionary-era Cuban son; Cuba itself was completely out of the loop. With the exception of a brief period during the Carter presidency when tensions between the United States and Cuba were temporarily reduced, information available in this country about musical developments within Cuba was sporadic and incomplete, depending largely on individuals who had traveled either to Cuba or to countries with which Cuba had friendly relations and brought back Cuban recordings - which became prized collector's items but did not circulate widely.
In 1988, modifications to the Trading with the Enemy Act eased the restrictions on the exchange of cultural materials - in the case of music, allowing the distribution of material recorded in Cuba and permitting Cuban musicians to perform in the United States. As a result, although the embargo remained in place, Cuba's long isolation from the international music business began to reverse itself. In 1991, a compilation of the work of various Cuban artists titled Dancing with the Enemy (W2 26580) was released by a U.S.-based record label, Luaka Bop, a subsidiary of Warner Brothers Records. What was noteworthy about this recording was not so much the music itself as the fact that it inserted Cuban music not into Latin music networks as might have been expected but rather into a specialized market referred to as world music, most of whose consumers are non-Latino. The logic behind this unexpected convergence of Cuban music and world music has as much to do with ideologies of race and cultural authenticity as with economics and politics.
MARKETING AUTHENTICITY: THE WORLD-MUSIC MARKETPLACE
To untangle the complex relationships between Cuban music and world music, it is necessary to begin by defining the term itself. For music scholars, the term world music has long referred to everything that was not Western art music - tribal music, folk music, non-Western classical music, and, more recently, some popular music as well. World music, then, could include such varied material as songs of the pygmies, Celtic fiddling, classical Indian raags, Colombian vallenato, and Louisianan zydeco. The music industry struggled to find a way to market these diverse musics to international audiences and eventually appropriated the term world music for recordings that did not fit into existing market categories.(1) Underpinning the concept of world music is an assumption of cultural authenticity, and therefore it has tended to refer more to "roots music" than to more commercially oriented musics such as reggae, which is clearly rooted in Jamaica's folk past but uses electric and/or electronic instruments and displays prominent Western rock influences. Musics categorized as world musics are, however, hardly pristine and unmediated, since they, too, are recorded, broadcast, and disseminated via Western technology and capital. And while world musics may exhibit some musical borrowing, their appeal to Western audiences resides primarily in their relative proximity to traditional patterns of music making.
The term world beat emerged about the same time to refer to a subset of world music that included the more modernized, dance-oriented products of cross-fertilization between First and Third World musical traditions.(2) While the term does not refer explicitly to African-derived musics, operationally this is clearly the case, because in creative terms the most powerful forces behind the world-beat phenomenon have been black musicians from Africa or from the disparate regions of the diaspora. Indeed, even a partial listing of world-beat musics demarcates the diasporan region that Paul Gilroy (1993) has called the Black Atlantic: juju from Nigeria, soukous from Congo/Zaire/Senegal, chimurenga from Zimbabwe, zouk from Martinique and Guadelupe, soca from Trinidad, punta from Belize/Honduras, vodou-jazz and misik rasin from Haiti, and Jamaican reggae. Many world-beat musicians recognize their links to an African past and explicitly express the importance of black pride and pan-African solidarity through song texts or by other means such as adopting dreadlocks or wearing traditional African clothing. Underlying these signs, there appears to be a vision of, following Benedict Anderson (1983), an imagined diasporic community of which all black people, musicians and audiences alike, are a part. This diasporic identity is more important within the world-beat arena, but it also contributes to the attraction of these musics within the world-music arena.
Common - and indispensable - to both world music and world beat is a production, promotion, and distribution infrastructure for marketing these musics owned and maintained primarily by Western-based entrepreneurs who have carved out a niche for musics from the Third World within an international music industry otherwise dominated by U.S. pop. This infrastructure, which began to emerge in the early 1980s, is composed of a loosely connected network of small, independent record labels, mail-order houses, concert and music festival presenters, radio programs, …