Planet Mercury

The singer of Queen was actually born Farrokh Pluto Bulsara and was native to Zanzibar. Think of him with African roots.

What would it mean to consider Freddie Mercury as one of the first big African pop artists? That was a question Christina Zanfagna’s Music in Africa class was asked this winter, as part of a visit by musician and scholar Jason King. Mercury was born Farrokh Pluto Bulsara. He gained superstardom as the frontman of British rock band Queen. But he was native to Zanzibar, Tanzania. This fascinating shift in perspective changes the possible impact of African musicians like Manu Dibango. “We oftentimes think of everything emanating from the West, the McDonaldization of the world,” Zanfagna says. Instead, we should take opportunities for “thinking through these other kinds of global flows.”

post-image Freddie Mercury singing on stage. /Photo by Getty Images
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