The World Music Charts Europe (WMCE) are an institution. Fans and professionals alike turn to the monthly list for inspiration. It represents the essence of chart listings provided by radio journalists from 25 European countries.
Its first edition in 1991 was the result of chart listings compiled in eleven countries and put together with the cooperation of the European Broadcasting Union. Since 2010, 25 countries are involved while the jury consists of 42 members. Each of the participating radio stations submits up to three chart listings per month with every jury member contributing ten frequently broadcast titles from their world music programmes. The monthly nominations amount to a number between 100-180 different albums from all over the world resulting in the WMCE’s top twenty published at the beginning of every month.
Those who can do the math have long since guessed: The WMCE are celebrating their 30th birthday this year. To mark the anniversary, a double album is released featuring the best songs of the past two years. Music from Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, the Balkans, the Middle East, Scandinavia, Eastern and Southwestern Europe – songs placed among the first 200 of the WMCE in 2019 and 2020. And it is no wonder there are familiar names to be found: the selection ranges from Aziza Brahim to Vedan Kolod, Helene Blum & Harald Haugaard to Maria Kalaniemi, from Tamikrest to Tautumeitas. But there are also new discoveries to be made!
Credit for the fact that the WMCE have left their mark on the scene since its inception in no small degree goes to world music expert Johannes Theurer, who at the end of last year handed over responsibility to Milan Tesař of Radio Proglas. From 1987 to 2020, radio veteran Theurer was host and producer of the world music radio show “Dschungelfieber” (“Jungel Fever”) on various channels of the Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg (RBB). Theurer went into a well earned retirement at the end of 2020.
Milan Tesař has worked as music director at Radio Proglas in Brno, Czech Republic, since 1995. Among other broadcasts, he presents “Slyste, lide!” (“Listen, People”), a weekly radio show which focuses on world music, jazz, blues, folk and alternative music.
“The WMCE helped to establish Europe as a world music market. In relation to traditions from Africa, Asia or Latin America, we were all equally ‘foreigners’, because an African release in Sweden could just as well be made available in Poland or Hungary or Greece. The loyal way in which we collaborated with each other was something new – things like this had not exactly been common in the music business before. It also provided inspiration for the WOMEX music fair, which would hardly have survived its first edition without the WMCE broadcasters,” Theurer looks back today.
There was a lot of enthusiasm in the beginning, but support from the participating broadcasters dropped significantly from around 2008, he reports. Did that frustrate him? In the liner notes Theurer writes: “Today I am overjoyed that a new team around Milan Tesař from Brno has taken over with fresh energy. The charts are also available now on Facebook and as a playlist on Spotify. The story goes on. And will do so as long as there are radio programmes dedicated to world music and as long as there are people in the background reliably doing their work.”
Year of Release: 2021