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All that is solid melts in the presence of funk. Maurice White — the prolific songwriter, singer, producer, arranger, bandleader, organizer and conceptualist at the helm of multi-platinum act Earth, Wind & Fire who transitioned on Thursday at 74 after a 25-year struggle with Parkinson's Disease — gifted us with years of optimistic, exuberant music that could instantly evaporate your frown into thin air.

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.



The imminent release of The Lumineers' second album, Cleopatra, warrants the cliche "long-awaited." It isn't simply the fact that the self-titled debut by the unassuming Denver trio came out almost four years ago (April 2012), but because it was the rare case of a new folk-rock artist making a major impact.

"These are just the strongest melodies and the strongest ideas that occurred to me over a three to four year period, distilled."

Tonight, Showtime presents a new documentary on the late pop star Michael Jackson, called Michael Jackson's Journey from Motown to Off the Wall. Director Spike Lee explores his journey from child prodigy to recording his best-selling 1979 album. It's the second in what Lee hopes will be a trilogy of films dedicated to Jackson's musical legacy.

Off the Wall was Michael Jackson's first solo album as an adult.

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Latin Roots: Monsieur Periné

Feb 4, 2016

On this special "Latin Roots" edition of World Cafe, the Grammy-nominated Latin jazz band Monsieur Periné performs live in front of an audience at World Cafe Live in Philadelphia. The central three members, including charismatic lead singer Catalina Garcia, joined forces as a Gypsy-jazz group with a love for Parisian guitarist Django Reinhardt. Their music has since evolved, but Reinhardt's influence still remains.

During the climactic final scene of Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Brad Fiedel's moody, pummeling synth score turns tender as industrial sounds clang in the background. That melody is as seared into viewers' memory as the scene itself. So it's hard to shake that melody from the first half of Good Willsmith's "What Goes In The Ocean Goes In You," which is centered on a modal, minor key as synths whir to life around it.

Savages' first album, Silence Yourself, was a ferocious and angry record. On the follow-up, Adore Life, the message is no less powerful, but the focus has shifted to love and the importance of living in the moment. The British post-punk band is incredible live, as this performance of "Adore" for KCRW's Morning Becomes Eclectic demonstrates.


  • "Adore"

Larry "Gimmer" Nicholson is, for all practical purposes, a ghost. His music has run the risk of vanishing into the ether as well, not due to any perception of rarity, but because even the most ardent music lovers did not know of his existence until relatively recently. (Evidence is beyond scarce.) History is like that sometimes, and it takes dedicated individuals to follow its path, to pull from its pages the things we should look at and listen to.

A certain musical and spiritual condition defines Wynonna Judd's first album with her band The Big Noise — not to mention the first album of original material in 13 years from one of country music's supreme redheads. That quality is joy. It dominates, not just because Judd is performing with a small group led by her husband, the drummer and producer Cactus Moser, letting loose on songs she hand-selected because she liked them rather than out of concern for padding her remarkable roster of hits.

Just before The Suffers' members begin performing, you'll see 20 arms stretched in the air Superman-style, followed by 10 voices. The first counts off, 1 to 10, then shouts long and hard at full lung capacity. That's just the warmup.

Fame can be a myopic beast. Whatever first lands a person in the spotlight is the thing most likely to keep attracting attention ever after. Throughout Vince Gill's late-'80s-to-late-'90s commercial heyday in country's mainstream, it was his sensitive ballads — many with adult-pop sheen, some with modern honky-tonk melancholy, all sold by the lustrous anguish of his singing — that served as his primary calling card. His other strengths took a backseat.

These days, the idea of home is on the mind of the fantastically gifted singer, songwriter and instrumentalist Rokia Traoré. It's been four years since Mali, Traoré's native west African country, began descending into ongoing bedlam.

Basia Bulat On World Cafe

Feb 3, 2016

Best known for her use of the autoharp, Basia Bulat loves stringed instruments, but she concentrated on keyboards for her latest album, Good Advice, which was produced by My Morning Jacket's Jim James. Bulat says she pushed herself out of her comfort zone to make her fourth album a pop record. Hear the Canadian singer-songwriter perform some of those new songs live on this episode of World Cafe.

Tift Merritt On Mountain Stage

Feb 3, 2016

Tift Merritt returns to Mountain Stage, recorded live on the North Shore of Lake Superior in Grand Marais, Minn. Born in Texas and raised in North Carolina, Merritt rose to the top of the alt-country singer-songwriter scene back in 2002, with the release of Bramble Rose. With an assist from fellow North Carolinian Ryan Adams, Merritt released the Grammy-nominated Tambourine in 2004.

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.



If your twee-dar's going off, it's because Free Cake For Every Creature's song "For You" is as cute as a one-inch button pinned to a thrift-store jacket. The VHS-quality video is equally adorable, shot on the streets of Philly on a budget befitting the back half of MTV's 120 Minutes, replete with floating doughnuts and questionably successful high kicks.

The Tuareg musician Omara "Bombino" Moctar first heard the guitar as a 12-year-old refugee in Algeria, where his family had fled during the Tuareg Rebellion of the early 1990s. The Tuareg are nomadic Berbers who traverse the countries along the Sahara Desert in North Africa, and Bombino's personal history reflects the turmoil of his community.

A Voice You Can Feel

Morris Robinson has the kind of bass voice that reverberates so strongly you feel it in your concert seat. Listening to it, you assume he's been singing all of his life. And he has — but not opera.

Morris Robinson has the kind of bass voice that reverberates so strongly, you feel it in your concert seat. Listening to it, you assume he's been singing all of his life. And he has — but not opera.

Two neighbors — Donnie Fritts and John Paul White, both from Florence, Alabama — make veteran songwriter and session man Fritts' new album, Oh My Goodness, some of his best work yet.

On this week's All Songs Considered, we've got several new favorites including Bob Boilen's No. 1 discovery of 2016 so far, Lucy Dacus. Robin Hilton shares songs by several artists he thinks are about to release their best albums yet, including Santigold and Ane Brun.

Once upon a time, an artist actually had to sell albums to earn gold or platinum awards from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). But today, the RIAA announced that they're catching up with how fans actually listen to music: On-demand streaming, either on video or audio platforms, counts toward that status.

New Video For PJ Harvey's 'The Wheel'

Feb 1, 2016