The music industry in North America likes things to fit into neat little compartments, so if you're from Africa they want you to play what they would consider "African music." It seems to have escaped the notice of most people that Africa is a rather large continent made up of a huge number of diverse cultures. It's not like North America, where, no matter what Canadians might claim, two out of three countries share one culture, and the third (Mexico, for those who don't remember) is only able to maintain its identity due to the fact they have their own language. So while you might be able to say something is American when referring to North America, you really can't say something is African. I'm not sure how much somebody in Egypt even has in common with somebody from the Cameroon or South Africa.
It was in late 2008 when I conducted an interview with Frances Jocky who was originally from the Cameroon and was now living in New York City. Growing up he had been exposed to music from all over the world and saw nothing odd in the fact that he really liked Dolly Parton and Jackson Brown. It was only when his family moved to Paris (France, not Texas) that he discovered he was supposed to be listening to "Black" music, and was shocked to realize that people weren't comfortable with him asking where he could find the latest Dolly Parton disc. For those who've not heard his music, it reflects his interests, and is a great mixture of pop, soul, and R&B; hardly what most would consider "African."
This turned out to be a serious problem for him when he came to North America as one label interested in him wanted him to be more "African." I've often wondered what they meant by wanting him to sound, or be, more African. Did they want him to sing in one of the many dialects that are spoken in the country of his birth? Did they want him to sound like bands from South Africa? (Which may be the case because they said they saw him as the next Hugh Masekela, the famous South African jazz trumpeter.) The trouble is, that's not what he was interested in doing at the time, so he never signed and continued to do his own thing.
Times change and so do people's musical interests and Jocky is no exception, and his latest release finds him turning to the land of his birth for inspiration. Elephant: An African Tale isn't available through a label as of yet and can only be purchased through the disc's website. However, that isn't a reflection on its quality or Jocky's talent, as this disc not only shows off his talents as a musician and a songwriter, but his production skills as well.