Putumayo World Music

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Putumayo World Music
Putumayo World Music Logo.jpg
Founded1993 (1993)
FounderDan Storper
GenreWorld music, jazz & blues
Country of originUnited States
LocationNew Orleans
Official websiteputumayo.com

Putumayo World Music is a New Orleans-based record label that specializes in compilations of world music, jazz and blues.


Dan Storper founded Putumayo in 1975 as a retail store in New York City featuring handicrafts from around the world. Storper took the name of his company, Putumayo, from Colombia's Putumayo River Valley where he travelled in 1974. Putumayo is said to mean a heron and “the place where the river begins” in the local indigenous language.[1] He eventually opened 7 world handicraft and clothing boutiques across the northeastern United States. In 1991, on his way home from Bali, Storper stopped in San Francisco, California. In Golden Gate Park, he heard the Nigerian band Kotoja. He was impressed by the music and started compiling international music to play in his stores. The response from the public was so positive that, in 1993, he launched Putumayo World Music and began offering compilations for sale.[2]


Every release features the art of Nicola Heindl. Her art is both folky and modern, and, according to the Putumayo website, "represents one of Putumayo's goals: to connect the traditional to the contemporary."[3]

Putumayo Presents[edit]

Typically a Putumayo World Music compilation is presented as a theme under the title “Putumayo Presents:” The themes can be regional (South Africa, Caribbean, Asia), music styles (reggae, folk, Latin, jazz) and other themes (lounge, groove, party).

The Putumayo Kids division was created in 2002. Since the release of the World Playground CD in 1999, Putumayo Kids music collections have received over 20 Parents' Choice Awards[4] among other accolades.

Putumayo launched the Putumayo World Music Hour in 2000, a commercially syndicated world music radio show. Rosalie Howarth of KFOG hosts the Music Hour. The weekly show is heard internationally on over 100 commercial and non-commercial stations.[5]

In 2011, Putumayo developed a series of cultural coloring books.[6] Beginning in 2017, Putumayo began distributing multicultural books and activity sets in partnership with publisher Barefoot Books.[7] That same year, Putumayo started a series of world greeting card collections that have featured international folk art and photography by illustrator Nicola Heindl, photographer Emerson Matabele, Brazilian block print artist José Francisco Borges, Louisiana Folk Artist William Hemmerling, London artist Christopher Corr and Louisiana painter George Rodrigue.[8]

Putumayo's products are sold at a network of thousands of book, gift, clothing, coffee and other specialty retailers around the world.

Many of Putumayo music collections are now available for digital download and streaming.[9] In 2020, the company launched an ongoing series of themed streaming playlists.[10]


  1. ^ Interview with Dan Storper at itzcaribbean.com Archived April 8, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Interview with Dan Storper at wholefoodsmarket.com Archived July 16, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ worldmusic.about.com
  4. ^ Parents' Choice Award-Winning Company: Putumayo World Music
  5. ^ "Putumayo World Music Guaranteed to Make Listeners Feel Good". Voice of America. 1 November 2009. Retrieved 9 September 2020.
  6. ^ Mandy, Chaos. "Putumayo Kids Coloring and Sticker Books". Wired. Wired. Retrieved 16 September 2020.
  7. ^ More McCann, Sarah (17 March 2009). "An independent bookseller stars in her own fairy tale". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 16 September 2020.
  8. ^ "Putumayo". Faire. Retrieved 16 September 2020.
  9. ^ Sisario, Ben (29 August 2011). "At Last, a Label Goes Digital". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 September 2012.
  10. ^ Hill, Jack (27 August 2020). "MUSIC MADNESS: Music moves outdoors with Sad Daddy in SoMa". Arkansas Democrat Gazette. Retrieved 9 September 2020.

External links[edit]