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Jay-Z, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey and Janet Jackson have experienced worldwide musical success and fame. Their music is accepted in the States and across the seas.  This success isn’t shared by non-American artists; Americans don’t embrace world music.

Black musicians from other parts of the world, especially Africa, still have a hard time breaking out of their niches and into our broader culture and playlists.

African and Afro-Caribbean music have sent some shoots through the American scene. Nightclubs pulse to dancehall and reggaeton. The Broadway musical Fela! spotlighted the Nigerian music giant and political activist Fela Kuti and the prowess of the production’s backup band, the Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Afrobeat group Antibalas. The Malian Tuareg band Tinariwen shook Coachella last year. These days, fans of the all-white quartet Vampire Weekend can hear the Congolese dance music soukous weave through the band’s maddeningly catchy song Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa.

Across the Atlantic, black world music is a vital part of the mainstream scene. In France, music from Africa and the African diaspora regularly shows up on the hit parade. In the United Kingdom, African musicians sell out major concert halls in London almost every week, said Simon Broughton, co-editor of The Rough Guide to World Music and editor of the magazine Songlines. In the United States, African music has left its imprint on American artists who collaborate with and borrow from Africans, but “we don’t have our African Bob Marley yet,” said Georges Collinet, the longtime host of the weekly public radio show Afro-pop Worldwide.

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