Yale Evelev, head of world music label Luaka Bop, digs up information about great-but-forgotten musicians for a living. His quest to compile and release the work of Nigerian funk legend William Onyeabor, though, was a unique challenge.
Her voice feels old, but it's got power that's young and vibrant. In fact, Christine Salem sings songs that are old: They're work songs and chants from the maloya tradition on Réunion Island in the Indian Ocean. I first heard her in New York City as she shook a flat board called a kayamb, made of cane reeds, with two percussionists flanking her to provide rhythm.
Thursday night — just as Twitter was coming down from Scandal's midseason finale, and it's hard to think of this as a coincidence — Beyonce dropped an album out of nowhere. The news ricocheted through social media. People called it Bey Day and Christmas come early.
Born in Milan on December 5, 1972, Stefano Bollani was playing piano by age six. He grew up listening to his father's stride piano albums, and the pop music of Italian superstars Renato Carsone and Adriano Celentano.
The East Tennessee State University Old Time Pride Band makes its first appearance on Mountain Stage, recorded live in Johnson City. Founded in 1982, ETSU has the oldest established roots-music studies program at any four-year institution. Each year, the Bluegrass, Old-Time and Country Music Studies program fields its own band that plays and tours throughout the region. This year, the group focused on the historic Johnson City Sessions from country music's infancy; songs from these sessions make up the entirety of the band's set.
Fans of Midlake have no doubt grown accustomed to the band's malleable sound, which fluctuates from album to album. The Texas folk-rock band's second record, The Trial of Van Occupanther, was steeped in the atmosphere of the '70s, while 2010's The Courage of Others headed in another direction altogether.
Originally published on Fri December 13, 2013 1:37 pm
Grammy-winning soprano Renée Fleming is a regular at the world's top opera houses and concert halls around the globe. Her awards include a Fulbright Lifetime Achievement medal and the National Medal of Arts.
Jazz guitarist, composer and arranger Jim Halldied in his sleep Tuesday; he was 83. Hall was known for a subtle, lyrical playing style, a gift for innovation and collaborations with a host of talented musicians in a career that stretched more than seven decades.
Toward the end of every year, NPR Music invites some of the world's best jazz keyboard players to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. We ask them to take on some of their favorite Christmas tunes, solo, and the recording becomes the public radio special A Jazz Piano Christmas.
Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 8:42 am
The year may have suffered a couple of black eyes in the form of shuttered opera companies and orchestras in labor disputes, but as far as recordings go, don't let anyone tell you classical music is dying — the music and musicians are thriving.
This week, the Los Angeles group La Santa Cecilia joins World Cafe in concert for WXPN's first installment of Latin Roots Live. This set with the popular Mexican-American band was recorded at World Cafe Live Upstairs in Philadelphia.
"Old Time Angels," a new song by Nashville, Tenn.-based singer-songwriter Jim Lauderdale, sounds so ebullient that at first, you may not realize he's singing about one of music's most terrifying moments.
Old Man Luedecke makes his first appearance on Mountain Stage, recorded live on the campus of East Tennessee State University. A native of Nova Scotia, Chris Luedecke isn't actually old, but his music clearly draws from his remarkable ear for the music and melodies of years gone by.
Deer Tick visits the WXPN studio to perform songs from its fifth album, Negativity. Of all the material the band has released over the past seven years, this record contains some of lead singer John McCauley's most personal songwriting yet.
The Jazz Institute of Chicago and the city's Park District teamed up in December 2012 to present this free family concert with Dee Alexander. As we air it on JazzSet a year later,Alexander is just back from performing the show in Poland where, she writes, "everyone was on their feet."
Jennifer Holliday won fame by turning a Broadway show tune into an anthem. With her performance of "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" in the musical Dreamgirls, she became a star on Broadway. But Holliday's life and career offstage slipped out of control as she battled obesity and depression. After years out of the recording studio, Holliday is back with the album The Song is You. It's due out in January.
Originally published on Thu January 23, 2014 10:15 am
This audio is no longer available.
Our friends in the public radio system are some of the most open-minded listeners we know. Each month, our Heavy Rotation series brings you free downloads of what our fellow programmers and producers are experiencing on repeat.
World Cafe revisits a 2002 studio session with Rusted Root as Sense of Place: Pittsburgh continues. The energetic, percussion-heavy band has become synonymous with the sound of the city. Formed in 1990, Rusted Root is a sextet featuring many instruments and styles; the group is known for blending acoustic rock with world music. Its percussion style is heavily influenced by the music of Africa, Latin America and Native America, while its lyrical content often touches on Christianity, Judaism and Islam.