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  • New Compilation Of Old Tunes Is ‘An Alternate History Of The World’s Music’

    NPR's Ari Shapiro talks with Jonathan Ward on his new 100-track compilation of early recordings from around the world called Excavated Shellac: An Alternate History of the World's Music. ARI SHAPIRO, HOST: Many histories of early recorded music focus on stuff like this... (SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CRAZY BLUES") MAMIE SMITH AND HER JAZZ HOUNDS: (Singing) Now I've got the crazy blues since my baby went away. SHAPIRO: ...Or this. (SOUNDBITE OF GEORGE GERSHWIN'S "RHAPSODY IN BLUE") SHAPIRO: But at the same time record labels were pressing Mamie Smith and George Gershwin's music, they were doing the same thing all over the world, like in Nigeria. (SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ARTHUR PREST") TUNDE KING: (Singing in non-English language). JONATHAN WARD: What most people probably don't know is that the recording industry existed everywhere, and it was huge and massive. An extraordinary amount of music was recorded around the world, and almost none of it is available. SHAPIRO: Many of these fragile discs have been broken or lost ...

  • Jack Harlow: Tiny Desk (Home) Concert

    Credit: Courtesy of the Artist The Tiny Desk is working from home for the foreseeable future. Introducing NPR Music's Tiny Desk (home) concerts, bringing you performances from across the country and the world. It's the same spirit — stripped-down sets, an intimate setting — just a different space. Jack Harlow's Tiny Desk (home) concert feels like the arrival of a rap superstar. Tucked in a homey-looking space in Los Angeles surrounded by bookshelves and vintage furniture, the Louisville, Ky., emcee delivers a performance with the confidence of an old pro. His set, however, is the first time he's relied solely on live instrumentation to bring his songs to life. "It's been a long time since I had a chance to perform and I've never done it like this," he says. This is a far stretch from the kid with loose curls and specs frolicing with his hometown friends, but his success should serve as a reminder of the ...

  • Album Review: Julien Baker Embraces Struggles With Addiction In ‘Little Oblivions’

    Tennessee songwriter Julien Baker's new album "Little Oblivions" reveals new folds in the musician's road to recovery from addiction. MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST: Julien Baker does not mince words. The Tennessee songwriter's music offers a candid portrait of a young woman raised in a devout Christian home who went through addiction, recovery and relapse, all before turning 25. Our reviewer Miguel Perez says her latest album, called "Little Oblivions," reveals new folds in the musician's road to recovery. MIGUEL PEREZ, BYLINE: The first time I heard Julien Baker, she was singing songs off of her debut album in the patio of an Austin bar. It was 2016. She was 20 years old then, singing softly about God and substance abuse onstage, alone, with just her guitar. (SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SPRAINED ANKLE") JULIEN BAKER: (Singing) Wish I could write songs about anything other than death. PEREZ: Her new album in many ways doesn't deviate from this spirit. Baker's still brutally honest, unflinching in her study of addiction. But whereas her ...

  • Ralph Peterson Jr., Drummer Who Re-Enlivened Hard Bop, Dead At 58

    Enlarge this image Ralph Peterson Jr., performing in 2012 at Symphony Space in New York. Dave Kaufman Dave Kaufman Ralph Peterson Jr., a drummer, bandleader, composer and educator whose lunging propulsion and volatile combustion were hallmarks of a jazz career spanning more than 40 years, died on Monday in North Dartmouth, Mass. The cause was complications from cancer, his manager, Laura Martinez, tells NPR Music; Peterson had been living with the disease for the last six years. He was 58. The sheer, onrushing force of Peterson's beat, paired with his alert ear and agile dynamism, made him one of the standout jazz musicians to emerge in the 1980s. Part of a striving peer group known as the Young Lions, which coalesced around the resurgence of acoustic hard bop, he distinguished ...

  • Demetria Bannister, 28: Kirk Franklin’s ‘The Storm Is Over Now’

    Courtesy of Rayechon McQueen More than 500,000 people have died in the U.S. from COVID-19 since the pandemic hit this country and the world just over a year ago. NPR is remembering some of those who lost their lives by listening to the music they loved and hearing their stories. We're calling our tribute Songs Of Remembrance. Demetria was a teacher in Columbia, S.C., for elementary school students. And she was 28 years old. We seem to have a lot of family members that actually sing and play, like, instruments and stuff. So, we'll just be sitting down or just playing instrumentals and just singing together. And that started off at a very young age. I can't remember how old I was, and Demetria, of course, was always older than me, but she always was singing and I started because of her. Sometimes, we'd be in the car together, just making a song while we were riding. And Demetria was such a playful and funny person. And that was just with anybody she was encountering — it didn't ...

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