Globalization has been a sometimes controversial mixed bag in different areas and different parts of the world, but I think we can all agree that on the plus side, one of its grooviest benefits has been to bring to spread many of the exciting cultural achievements of societies much different from our own.

Nowhere is this more exciting than in the field of “world music”, a term that came into vogue beginning in the 1980s to describe music both non-Western and non-mainstream Western. Initially referring to traditional music, it’s now rather broader, extending to all kinds of funky fusion, from pop to electronica and beyond.

There are thousands upon thousands of talented world music artists out there, but here are a dozen of the most influential of the present and recent past which have done the most to popularize their sounds beyond their own cultures. Some you already know (and may even find a bit obvious), but others you may not. And yet others you may think I have perhaps unfairly left out; if so, please let us know in the comments!

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