About Fonotopia

Fonotopia is a radio show hosted by Ian Nagoski and produced by Lawrence Lanahan and Bruce Wallace. It focuses on early 20th century music from around the world, and tells the stories of the people and cultures behind the music.

Nagoski is a musicologist and the founder of Canary Records. His avocation is inspiring people who love music to love it more.

In 2007 Ian released Black Mirror, a collection of gripping folk and devotional music recorded between 1918 and 1954 in Syria, Bali, Scotland, Yugoslavia, Cameroon, and a dozen or so other countries. It was released on Grammy-winning label Dust-to-Digital (Goodbye Babylon); Baltimore’s City Paper called it “enigmatic, transfixing, haunting, pretty, and just plain odd,” and the Kronos Quartet began performing a piece from it. The academic journal Ethnomusicology lauded it as an exceptional collection, despite having been made for the general public.

Nagoski followed Black Mirror with A String of Pearls, on his own label, Canary Records (manufactured and distributed by Mississippi Records of Portland, OR) and released a licensed vinyl version of the ARKO CD Mortika: Recordings From a Greek Underworld, compiled by Charles Howard and annotated by Tony Klein. The album includes music from the pre-WWII Greek underworld of outlaws, hash smokers, and smooth operators. Canary’s upcoming releases include surveys of superlative recordings of the singers Marika Papagika and Abdul Karim Khan, and the music of American immigrants from the Ottoman Empire.

Ian is also a writer, who has contributed to dozens of magazines and blogs, including a recently-published feature on under-the-radar ethnic record stores in Baltimore as well as infrequent posts at the Arthur blog.

Send us an e-mail at


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: