Louis Sarno

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Louis Sarno (July 3, 1954 – April 1, 2017) was an American musicologist and author. In the mid-1980s he lived among a Bayaka Pygmy clan in the Central African Republic, and recorded their music.[1] His experiences were published as Song From The Forest, which was included among the "99 books that capture the spirit of Africa" by Geoff Wisner.[2]

Louis Sarno was born and raised in Newark, New Jersey. In 1985 he went to Africa to record the music of a pygmy tribe. He "combined recordings of Bayakan music with sounds of their surrounding environment into a two-CD/book package entitled Bayaka: The Extraordinary Music of the BaBenzl Pygmies (Ellipsis Arts)."

Louis Sarno was married to a Bayakan and has two sons.[3] He lives in the forests of Central Africa. The documentary film Song from the Forest by German director Michael Obert tells his life´s story. The film premiered at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam 2013[4][5] where it was honored with the Award for Best Feature-Length Documentary.[6][7] A movie based on Sarno´s life called Oka! ("Oka" is pygmy for "Listen") was released in 2011. Sarno died on April 1, 2017 in Teaneck, New Jersey.[8]


  1. ^ Swains, Howard (April 18, 2015). "Inside the World of Louis Sarno, the Pygmy Chief From New Jersey". Newsweek. Retrieved April 4, 2017. 
  2. ^ Geoff Wisner (2008). A basket of leaves: 99 books that capture the spirit of Africa. Jacana Media. p. 28. ISBN 978-1-77009-206-8. 
  3. ^ Louis Sarno, an interview by Deni Kasrel. Philadelphia City Paper, June 13–20, 1996.
  4. ^ Young, Neil (November 23, 2013). "Song From the Forest: IDFA Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 14, 2017. 
  5. ^ Kohn, Eric (April 6, 2015). "In ‘Song From the Forest,’ Louis Sarno Joins a Pygmy Tribe, Starts a Family and Returns to New York". IndieWire. Retrieved April 14, 2017. 
  6. ^ Macnab, Geoffrey (November 29, 2013). "Song From The Forest wins at IDFA". ScreenDaily. Retrieved 2017-04-14. 
  7. ^ "Song From the Forest wins IDFA Award". International Documentary Filmfestival Amersterdam. Retrieved April 14, 2017. [dead link]
  8. ^ "Louis J. Sarno, Age 62". The Hunterdon County News. April 4, 2017. Retrieved April 4, 2017. 


  • Planets Above and Below, Volume I, Grues and Kirns, is dedicated to Louis Sarno

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