Since 1961, the Peace Corps has promoted world peace and friendship in 139 countries. The Peace Corps provides American expertise to nations in need, and facilitates intercultural understanding between the United States and Peace Corps host countries. In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps, the 2011 Smithsonian Folklife Festival hosts performances, discussions and demonstrations by fifteen Peace Corps nations on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
The groups and individual musicians featured on this playlist, while not scheduled to appear at the 2011 Smithsonian Folklife Festival, are from Smithsonian Folkways, the non-profit record label of the Smithsonian Institution, and represent the rich diversity of musical expression of the Festival participants. The selections here range from the unmistakable sound of the sitengena, or thumb piano, as played by a ¡Kung San musician from the northwestern Kalahari Desert in Botswana; to the distinctive tuning of ancient choral polyphony from the mountains of Georgia; to Kyrgyz music evocative of the hoof-beats of horses across the grasslands of Central Asia; to a classic protest song from American singer and activist Bernice Johnson Reagon; to a traditional Bambara jaliya song played by Malian musicians resident in New York City. The amazing range of musical sounds featured here also includes Kenyan afropop from Seattle, Guatemalan marimba, rural Jamaican calypso, and much more.