About Leo Sarkisian
University of Michigan Archive
A journey from international shortwave to digital broadcast, the Music Time in Africa Archive takes audiences through an on-line experience of vintage Voice of America radio programs broadcast from 1966. The collaborative project with the University of Michigan digitized nearly 900 audio recordings and associated scripts of the weekly radio program. The archive now features 691 radio programs with a combination of program script and broadcast audio, with an additional 120 radio programs coming soon.
The broadcasts feature show hosts playing a variety of African music and original field recordings by VOA ’s “Music Man for Africa,” ethnomusicologist Leo Sarkisian. Sarkisian recorded and collected music from the early 1960s through the late 1980s throughout the entire African continent, including pre-independence regions and states such as Balundo, Upper Volta, and Rhodesia. Visitors can play digitized broadcasts with original sounds and scripts, searchable by location or performer. The portraits displayed for each show are Sarkisian's original artwork, painted and sketched over the years. Listeners can listen to music ranging from iconic urban artists Fela Kuti or Franco to traditional performances by Karanga “Gawo" of Zimbabwe or griot music by kora master Sidiki Diabaté of the Republic of Mali. The site will soon allow the audience to explore 361 reels of Sarkisian’s original field recordings and engage with the music and scripts in a comment section.
Launched in 1965 by Sarkisian, Music Time in Africa is VOA’s longest running radio broadcast to the African continent. The program continues to feature traditional and contemporary music from musicians throughout Africa.