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If you've spent any time on TikTok, then you know a remix of "This Is America" has become an unofficial anthem for the n...
06/04/2020
Donald Glover's 'This Is America' Holds Ugly Truths To Be Self-Evident

If you've spent any time on TikTok, then you know a remix of "This Is America" has become an unofficial anthem for the nationwide protests. Back in 2018, NPR Music critic Rodney Carmichael broke down the song and video's barrage of symbolism.

NPR Music's hip-hop journalist Rodney Carmichael breaks down the political and racial nuances of Donald Glover's new video.

Washington, D.C. emcee Sa-Roc was shaped by the sounds of go-go, Gil Scott Heron and The Last Poets. For her Tiny Desk (...
06/04/2020
Sa-Roc: Tiny Desk (Home) Concert

Washington, D.C. emcee Sa-Roc was shaped by the sounds of go-go, Gil Scott Heron and The Last Poets. For her Tiny Desk (home) concert, the Rhymesayers signee shares two tracks from her forthcoming album, 'The Sharecropper's Daughter.'

The Washington, D.C. rapper and Rhymesayers signee debuts two songs from her upcoming album, The Sharecropper's Daughter.

Freddie Gibbs and The Alchemist's new LP runs counter to major-label rap's current overstuffed, deluxe edition approach....
06/04/2020
Freddie Gibbs And The Alchemist Perfect The Rap Duo Recipe

Freddie Gibbs and The Alchemist's new LP runs counter to major-label rap's current overstuffed, deluxe edition approach. The product of a deceptively simple recipe, the musical and thematic ingredients of the rapper-producer combo achieve near-perfection when combined on 'Alfredo.'

Alfredo not only pairs Freddie Gibbs' top-tier lyricism and The Alchemist's gritty rhythms but also engages a hip-hop tradition going back decades.

By changing a few notes and shifting the key, Anthony McGill, the principal clarinetist of the New York Philharmonic tur...
06/04/2020
Clarinetist Anthony McGill Kneels, Pleads And Plays For Justice

By changing a few notes and shifting the key, Anthony McGill, the principal clarinetist of the New York Philharmonic turned "America the Beautiful" into an act of protest against police violence, challenging Americans to #TakeTwoKnees.

With the help of a few "wrong" notes, the principal clarinetist of the New York Philharmonic turned "America the Beautiful" into a solemn protest of police violence.

The songs from Lara Downes' recent album, 'Some of These Days,' may be old tunes, but they endure as strong statements t...
06/04/2020
Lara Downes: Tiny Desk (Home) Concert

The songs from Lara Downes' recent album, 'Some of These Days,' may be old tunes, but they endure as strong statements that resonate in new ways.

Watch the pianist reimagine old spirituals and songs of freedom that continue to resonate in new ways.

Curtis Mayfield was born on this date in 1942. His 1967 track "We're a Winner" was the third in a series of Impressions ...
06/03/2020
'We're A Winner' Married Black Pride To An Irresistible Beat

Curtis Mayfield was born on this date in 1942. His 1967 track "We're a Winner" was the third in a series of Impressions songs that were designed to spread the message of civil rights activists.

Curtis Mayfield's previous songs for The Impressions had often been broadly inspirational — but here, he aimed his pen directly at black listeners, pledging that better times were ahead.

Due to temporary venue closures, the healing potential of live concerts is largely unavailable; however, livestreaming s...
06/03/2020
Finding Connection And Comfort In Livestream Concerts During Quarantine

Due to temporary venue closures, the healing potential of live concerts is largely unavailable; however, livestreaming shows are creating new virtual musical communities across genres.

NPR Music correspondents Ann Powers and Sidney Madden recommend a few favorite livestreaming performance series to check out while in-person concerts are on hold.

Warner Music Group, parent company to labels like Atlantic and Parlophone, has listed 77 million new shares on the Nasda...
06/03/2020
Warner Music Group Debuts On Wall Street, Promises Social Justice Support

Warner Music Group, parent company to labels like Atlantic and Parlophone, has listed 77 million new shares on the Nasdaq. The company also used the day to announce a $100 million fund intended to "support charitable causes" with no beneficiaries named.

One of the world's three major record labels is now a publicly traded company.

Denied a stage at D.C.'s Constitution Hall due to a white-artist-only clause, on Easter Sunday 1939, Marian Anderson gav...
06/03/2020
Denied A Stage, She Sang For A Nation

Denied a stage at D.C.'s Constitution Hall due to a white-artist-only clause, on Easter Sunday 1939, Marian Anderson gave a 25-minute concert on a stage built over the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to a crowd that stretched to the Washington Monument.

Seventy-five years ago, Marian Anderson made history when she sang to crowd of 75,000 at the Lincoln Memorial. The Daughters of the American Revolution had denied her the use of Constitution Hall.

'RTJ4' is here. Hear the new album from Run The Jewels, aka Killer Mike GTO and EL-P, two days early.
06/03/2020
Run The Jewels Releases New Album 'RTJ4' Early

'RTJ4' is here. Hear the new album from Run The Jewels, aka Killer Mike GTO and EL-P, two days early.

Killer Mike and El-P drop their fourth full-length album two days ahead of its scheduled release date and days after Killer Mike addressed protests in his hometown of Atlanta in a televised speech.

06/03/2020
The Law Police Used To Keep Musicians Of Color Off Stage

Jazz musicians have always faced systems of discrimination in America. One insidious example was the cabaret card, a form of identification required for any musician to work in a New York nightclub from 1940 to 1967.

Mahalia Jackson was one of the first singers to take gospel out of the church; she inspired generations of singers, incl...
06/02/2020
Mahalia Jackson: Voice Of The Civil Rights Movement

Mahalia Jackson was one of the first singers to take gospel out of the church; she inspired generations of singers, including Aretha Franklin, Della Reese, Albertina Walker and Mavis Staples, and soundtracked the civil rights movement.

Beginning in the 1940s, she was one of the first singers to take gospel out of the church, drawing white audiences and selling millions of records. In the process, she inspired generations of singers.

Terri Lyne Carrington + Social Science's "Bells (Ring Loudly)" was written in the wake of Philando Castile's killing by ...
06/02/2020
Terri Lyne Carrington + Social Science: Tiny Desk Concert

Terri Lyne Carrington + Social Science's "Bells (Ring Loudly)" was written in the wake of Philando Castile's killing by a police officer. Her powerful lyrics – "Tell me what gives you the right to kill so senselessly?" – imagine what she would ask the offending police officer.

The veteran jazz drummer is joined by special guests that include producer and percussionist Kassa Overall and actor Malcolm Jamal Warner, for a potent and deeply moving set.

Billie Holiday's "Strange Fruit" paints an unflinching picture of racial violence; Holiday recorded it with a small labe...
06/02/2020
Strange Fruit

Billie Holiday's "Strange Fruit" paints an unflinching picture of racial violence; Holiday recorded it with a small label, and it became an unexpected hit. But singing it brought serious consequences, including from government actors.

Billie Holiday helped shape American popular music with her voice and unique style. But, her legacy extends way beyond music with one song in particular — "Strange Fruit." The song paints an unflinching picture of racial violence, and it was an unexpected hit. But singing it brought serious conseq...

Today record labels are participating in a daylong moratorium on business as usual organized by Brianna Agyemang and Jam...
06/02/2020
Music Companies Promise A Tuesday 'Blackout' For Black Lives

Today record labels are participating in a daylong moratorium on business as usual organized by Brianna Agyemang and Jamila Thomas, two black female recording industry executives. Many of the corporations participating have yet to define what that support means.

Record labels and other organizations will participate in a daylong moratorium on "business as usual," though some argue the actions don't do enough to address the industry's history of exploitation.

For our continuing series, we've been asking writers and artists to recommend ways to carry on in the midst of the COVID...
06/02/2020
Our Daily Breather: Don Bryant Recommends Playing Some Old Favorites

For our continuing series, we've been asking writers and artists to recommend ways to carry on in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis. Don Bryant has been playing piano and spending time with some of his favorite songs.

In Our Daily Breather, we ask writers and artists to recommend ways to find calm in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis. Don Bryant has been spending time with some of his favorite old songs.

Christine and the Queens' new EP and short film, 'La Vita Nuova,' recounts a very difficult year that included the loss ...
06/01/2020
Christine And The Queens' Energy Is Electric, Even Over Video Chat

Christine and the Queens' new EP and short film, 'La Vita Nuova,' recounts a very difficult year that included the loss of Chris' mother. Hear her in conversation on World Cafe.

Christine is expressive in every sense, not only in her avant-garde music or the way she communicates complexities through dance, but also in conversation.

Both a dance and a genre, boogaloo was developed by and for black and brown communities. But in recent times, fringe mov...
06/01/2020
Who Owns 'Boogaloo'?

Both a dance and a genre, boogaloo was developed by and for black and brown communities. But in recent times, fringe movements have used the phrase as code for a race-based or civil war. NPR's Code Switch explains the history of boogaloo.

Long known as a fusion of Latin and soul sounds, boogaloo has been co-opted by right wing extremists as code for civil war. But fans of the music won't let the boogaloo die.

"It's become a tradition for us and an institution for the wider music community."
06/01/2020
Tiny Desk Contest: Celebrating The Artists Who Keep Coming Back

"It's become a tradition for us and an institution for the wider music community."

We love seeing new faces in the Tiny Desk Contest — but it's especially exciting when artists come back year after year. This week, we're featuring musicians who have entered three or more times.

This week's Heat Check celebrates radical Black joy in a time of great pain. Hear new tracks from Nubya Garcia, Savannah...
06/01/2020
Heat Check: 'Black Joy Is Radical'

This week's Heat Check celebrates radical Black joy in a time of great pain. Hear new tracks from Nubya Garcia, Savannah Cristina and more on this week's playlist refresh.

To celebrate radical Black joy in a time of great pain, here's a round-up of new tracks from the worlds of jazz, R&B and rap, all to remind you that they can't hijack happiness.

From NPR's Alt.Latino, hear expressive songs from Gina Chavez and Natalia Lafourcade Oficial that dig deep and offer opp...
06/01/2020
May's Latin Music Roundup: New Songs For Emotional Release

From NPR's Alt.Latino, hear expressive songs from Gina Chavez and Natalia Lafourcade Oficial that dig deep and offer opportunities for reflection.

Alt.Latino host Felix Contreras shares new music from Natalia Lafourcade, Gina Chavez, Cindy Blackman Santana, Gaby Moreno and Mireya Ramos.

Now that it's June, we're reviewing our favorites songs and albums released last month, including exquisite arrangements...
06/01/2020
NPR Music's No. 1 Albums And Songs Of May

Now that it's June, we're reviewing our favorites songs and albums released last month, including exquisite arrangements from Eve Owen, Deante' Hitchcock's major label debut and a nuanced story about returns from Buscabulla.

At the end of every month, the NPR Music team picks their favorite albums and songs. Their passions vary widely, from Atlanta rapper Deante' Hitchcock to Australian ambient artist Madeleine Cocolas.

Hadestown scored 8 wins at the 73rd Tony Awards. And though the lights on Broadway will remain dark through the summer, ...
06/01/2020
Hadestown: Tiny Desk Concert

Hadestown scored 8 wins at the 73rd Tony Awards. And though the lights on Broadway will remain dark through the summer, the message of the musical, based on the Anais Mitchell album of the same name, feels as resonant as ever.

The cast and musicians of the hit Broadway musical Hadestown pack into the Tiny Desk for a truly glorious performance of its greatest songs.

Watch as Nduduzo Makhathini and his wife Omagugu offer some "healing sonics" with a performance of Nduduzo's composition...
06/01/2020
Pianist Nduduzo Makhathini Performs From South Africa

Watch as Nduduzo Makhathini and his wife Omagugu offer some "healing sonics" with a performance of Nduduzo's composition "Beneath The Earth."

Watch Blue Note recording artist Nduduzo Makhathini and vocalist Omagugu Makhathini perform a healing duet from their home in South Africa.

NPR Music's Tom Huizenga recently spoke with Pulitzer-winning composer Steve Reich, who has been keeping busy with the s...
06/01/2020
Our Daily Breather: Steve Reich Composes During The Coronavirus Crisis

NPR Music's Tom Huizenga recently spoke with Pulitzer-winning composer Steve Reich, who has been keeping busy with the solitary act of writing a new piece from his winter getaway in Los Angeles.

In Our Daily Breather, we ask writers and artists to recommend ways to find calm in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis. Steve Reich tells NPR Music about his new composition.

You probably know Jon Batiste as bandleader and musical director on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. But his credenti...
06/01/2020
Premiere: Jon Batiste And Friends Light Up A Private Show

You probably know Jon Batiste as bandleader and musical director on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. But his credentials are deep as the roots of the Batiste family tree.

Jon Batiste was born for show business. Hear him play an intimate set in New York and on our radio show as we trace his story to his current gig as band leader of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

Lil Nas X is well-known for his natural ability to remix, reconfigure and reimagine the same song over and over again, m...
05/31/2020
Watch Lil Nas X And Kacey Musgraves Perform On Elmo's 'Not-Too-Late Show'

Lil Nas X is well-known for his natural ability to remix, reconfigure and reimagine the same song over and over again, making the country-rap star the perfect choice to help put a new spin on the well-tread "Elmo's Song."

Two of the biggest pop stars in the world performed some beloved children's songs in the inaugural episode of the Sesame Street character's new HBO Max talk show.

At the Tiny Desk, British post-punk pioneers Wire brought songs from its decade-spanning catalog, including a cut from t...
05/31/2020
Watch Wire Play The Tiny Desk

At the Tiny Desk, British post-punk pioneers Wire brought songs from its decade-spanning catalog, including a cut from the band’s 17th album, ‘Mind Hive,’ and “French Film Blurred” from ‘Chairs Missing.’

More than 40 years after forming, the British post-punk pioneers finally visited the Tiny Desk.

"One and Done" is armed with the same interior claustrophobia as the band's previous single, "Forced Convalescence," and...
05/31/2020
Bright Eyes Shares Lush New Single 'One And Done'

"One and Done" is armed with the same interior claustrophobia as the band's previous single, "Forced Convalescence," and falls in line with a number of recently released tracks that seem to confirm the zeitgeist of 2020 as a kind of dystopian stuck-ness.

The third single to arrive in anticipation of Bright Eyes' first record in nearly a decade, "One and Done" is a picture-postcard from the crumbling Anthropocene.

Following a turn to traditional pop and roots rock on recent projects, the singles from Lady Gaga's forthcoming sixth al...
05/31/2020
Lady Gaga's Road To 'Chromatica' Is A Revolving, Evolving Dance Floor

Following a turn to traditional pop and roots rock on recent projects, the singles from Lady Gaga's forthcoming sixth album, 'Chromatica,' have indicated a return to the maximalist dance pop that first made her famous.

After detouring from the sound that first made her famous for Joanne and A Star Is Born, Lady Gaga's return to high-concept dance pop is a something new and old at the same time.

Bob Boilen, whose band Tiny Desk Unit played the first show at the 9:30 Club 40 years ago today, pays tribute to the anc...
05/31/2020
The 9:30 Club Is 40 Years Old. It's Closed. It Matters More Than Ever

Bob Boilen, whose band Tiny Desk Unit played the first show at the 9:30 Club 40 years ago today, pays tribute to the anchor of Washington, D.C.'s live music scene. https://trib.al/RinRpEh

Musicians, fans, venue owners and employees are wondering what will become of the live music industry following the coronavirus pandemic. Bob Boilen pays tribute to the club that changed his life.

Watch Clem Snide and collaborator Scott Avett perform a socially distant set with a few new features you've never gotten...
05/31/2020
Clem Snide With Scott Avett: Tiny Desk (Home) Concert

Watch Clem Snide and collaborator Scott Avett perform a socially distant set with a few new features you've never gotten to hear at the Tiny Desk — most notably a noisy flock of birds and the unmistakable cries of a nearby rooster.

Clem Snide and Scott Avett play spiritually searching songs from Forever Just Beyond while maintaining social distancing for their Tiny Desk (home) concert.

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