In the eighties British and North American the music industry began to promote music from other countries, especially African music, which for a time was practically synonymous with the term “World music”. In addition, the term World Music was often equated with local or regional music, and interpretations tended to shift from one country to the next. Only a few World Music labels made it into the forefront of the music industry, such as rock singer Peter Gabriel’s Real World Records. Gabriel’s support had been key in the formation and survival of the annual World of Music, Arts and Dance (WOMAD) festivals. This festival played a vital role in introducing many artists who later became leading world music figures, including Pakistani qawwali singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.
Many would agree that artists from non-British/North American genres of music have accepted the World Music label as a means for breaking through the music industry. Presently, World music often juxtaposes regional sounds against pop music instrumentation and composition. Many genres of music are beginning to morph into one another and are becoming more and more difficult to label (i.e. Amadou & Mariam = Traditional Mali sound meets Rock, Anoushka Shankar = Flamenco meets South Indian meets North Indian etc.).
Perhaps we should drop the catch all label for regional music and acknowledge that each artist’s music is as unique as a flower and cannot ever be fully described by such a broad term. Looking forward to your feedback on this one!