Archive For The “Music” Category

Margo Price On The Mysterious Process Of Album-Making And Motherhood

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Margo Price On The Mysterious Process Of Album-Making And Motherhood

Price has been at home in Nashville trying to keep her feet on the ground. “If you let things like fame or money cloud your mind and poison your spirit, I think your art will really suffer,” she says.

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Bobbi Rich/Courtesy of the artist

The day Margo Price walked into the studio to start recording her new album, That’s How Rumors Get Started, she had butterflies in her stomach, a mixture of excitement, trepidation — and morning sickness.

“I definitely was not expecting to be pregnant,” she says. “I had planned to go into the studio regardless of what was happening in my personal life.”

Her daughter Ramona was born last June — and her new album is now out in the world, too. Price says that the two processes, making an album and having a baby, were eerily similar.

“I think when you’re making art and you’re creating something, you have this feeling of protection,” she says. “You keep it to yourself at first, and it’s evolving and growing and changing. And the same [can be said] when you’re carrying a baby. It’s such a process that it’s really hard to describe either one. I think they’re both kind of mysterious in their own way. It’s something that’s just so personal.”

NPR’s Ailsa Chang spoke to Margo Price about staying positive in quarantine and being present for her daughter’s developmental milestones, how the challenges of her life so far have made her the musician she is today and how she wants to prove to her children with her career that they can’t give up on their dreams. Listen in the audio player above.

Noah Caldwell and Patrick Jarenwattananon produced and edited the audio of this interview.

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Trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire Mixes The Playful And Solemn On A New Album

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Trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire Mixes The Playful And Solemn On A New Album

The Bay Area trumpet player broke out in jazz over a decade ago. A new album by his quartet, on the tender spot of every calloused moment, shows just how pretty Akinmusire can play.

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New Looney Tunes Series Hits HBO Max, With New Music

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New Looney Tunes Series Hits HBO Max, With New Music

Looney Tunes turns 90 this year and HBO Max is launching a new series of cartoons, along with a new soundtrack composed by Joshua Moshier.

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Rufus Wainwright Wants You To ‘Unfollow The Rules’

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Rufus Wainwright Wants You To ‘Unfollow The Rules’

Rufus Wainwright’s new album is called Unfollow the Rules. He says the title comes from something his daughter said to him, and which he uses to express the need to reexamine the world.

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  • “Trouble In Paradise”
  • “Damsel In Distress”
  • “Devils & Angels (Hatred)”
  • “Unfollow The Rules”

Rufus Wainwright has been making music pretty much his entire life. It’s almost as if he were destined to do it, considering his pedigree: Rufus is the son of folk singers Loudon Wainwright III and the late Kate McGarrigle; his sister, musician Martha Wainwright; his half-sister, singer-songwriter Lucy Wainwright Roche. That means Rufus grew up with music all around him, all the time. He played in the family band and in the mid-’90s, he went to Los Angeles to make his debut solo album, which ended up being his breakout. Since then, he’s released several albums, he’s written operas, he’s lived in Canada and the United States. And more recently, he moved back to LA to make his new record, Unfollow the Rules. And LA is where he was when we recorded this session, our very first World Cafe in front of a live, virtual audience. My conversation with Rufus Wainwright is coming up in a moment, but first, recorded live at The Paramour Estate in Los Angeles, let’s start with Rufus Wainwright with “Trouble in Paradise.”

This transcript has been edited for length and clarity.


Raina Douris: You’re living in LA now and it’s a big part of where this album came from. What is your history with Los Angeles?

Rufus Wainwright: My first records were made here. I was signed to DreamWorks Records in the early ’90s and I came to California in a very luxurious situation because it was a big label and they were very excited, and so I got the red carpet treatment in Hollywood. So I’ll always love it here because they accepted me at the outset. And this record, I decided to make again here; it just sort of created a bit of a bookend to my first record and complete a circle of sorts.

You’re living in Laurel Canyon, which is a place with pretty illustrious musical history — singer-songwriters like Crosby Still and Nash, Joni Mitchell — and you mentioned in your behind-the-scenes documentary about making this new album that you weren’t allowed to listen to Joni Mitchell in your house growing up. Could you tell us that story?

I adore Joni Mitchell’s music now and I didn’t mind it back then either, but my mother — the late, great Kate McGarrigle — was somewhat dubious of her musical taste. My mother was a real purist and was a bit folky and loved Peter Seeger and Bob Dylan, so Joni Mitchell was a little too “pop” for her. So we didn’t listen to her a lot at the house. I think also, my mom was a little jealous of her success and her stardom, so it was partly warranted and partly not. But then later, many years later, my husband Jörn [Weisbrodt] became a huge Joni Mitchell fanatic and I was able to embrace Joni’s music through his passion. And we subsequently became friends with her and I love her as a person as well. She’s such a wonderful woman.

I was going to ask about that because she’s famously pretty reclusive, but you did get to meet her and you are friends. How did that all happen?

Well it started around her 70th birthday, which was [seven] years ago. We were actually living in Toronto at the time. My husband was running a great festival called the Luminato Festival, and they told us there that “This year’s Joni’s 70th birthday, we should do something around that.” And then at Massey Hall we had a concert with incredible guests, and she came up and she sang, which was amazing because she hadn’t sung onstage for over 12 years. So [the friendship] started then and then wonderfully, we got to celebrate her 75th birthday in Los Angeles at the Music Center and hopefully we’ll get to do her 80th and 85th and her 90th and 120th.

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Unfollow the Rules is also your first pop album in eight years, and during that time since Out of the Game, you’ve been very busy with some other projects: You wrote two operas. What is your earliest memory of the opera?

I only got into opera music when I was 13, so it was a teenage thing for me. I think the first one that got my goat was Tosca, a great old recording with Jussi Björling and Zinka Milanov from the ’40s. So I got into that, and then the first opera I went to was with my mom at The Met, we went to see a Verdi opera, Luisa Miller. During that opera, the tenor got sick. In the first two acts, he was trying to get through the part but he was losing his voice, and he was this old guy who was kind of overweight and really at the end of his rope. And then he lost his voice and in the second half, they replaced him with a young, handsome tenor with an amazing voice. It endeared me to the opera world, because it’s just so ridiculous.

This would have been kind of the late ’80s, when teenagers were listening to stuff like Guns N’ Roses and U2 and REM, so what was it about opera for you? What drew you to it, why did you love it so much?

It spoke to me. And a lot of opera lovers have this similar experience where it’s not so much them choosing the music, it’s more the music coming out and grabbing them. And that occurred to me.

So this new album, Unfollow the Rules, it’s a pop record. Did your experience writing two operas change the way that you approached writing a pop music album?

I don’t know. I’m very cognizant of not deliberately trying to mix everything up and create kind of a hybrid. I want whatever I do to be pure and holistic. But I did know that in working a lot in the opera world, upon return to the pop world, I would gather some things along the way, some dust or spurs or something. I think it happened, but it wasn’t deliberate in any way.

What was it that made you want to return to pop music?

It’s my day job. [Laughs.] It’s where I make most of my income, so that was one of the major reasons. And also I’m still in the game, even though my album before this was called Out of the Game. That was a lie. So I’m still willing to put myself out there.

I thought it was so interesting that you decided to record Unfollow the Rules in the same studio as your 1998 debut and you did mention that it kind of bookends your career. Why did you want to return to the same place that you started?

For one thing, they’re some of the greatest studios in the world that I was returning to, and with some of the greatest musicians, these great LA session players. So I was excited just to do that on a musical level. And now I think that they’re more valuable, historically, because with the way the music business is working and certainly now with the pandemic, who knows what business will be around [in the future]? And studios were in trouble even before this, so I wanted to continue the tradition.

It’s interesting that you mention the idea of the pandemic. When we look back on even just making this most recent record, who knows what it’ll be like down the line? But being in that same studio, how did you notice that things had changed when it came to making a record there two decades later?

I noticed that I was only in there for two or three days, as opposed to six months. [Laughs.] And we had to get everything done very quickly and couldn’t order expensive Japanese food in between the songs, so it was just more sparse — which I think is actually good for the music. We were there just for the quality of the place, not the scene.

Is your preparation different when you know that you have a little bit less time?

Oh yeah, it takes a lot more preparation, a lot more strategies and stuff. The producer has to really — and Mitchell Froom did a fantastic job doing this — he really has to plan it out, kind of airtight.

I read you said that the lyrics on this album are your favorite lyrics you’ve written, which is pretty impressive after writing all of these albums and two operas. The next song that we’re going to hear you perform is “Devils & Angels (Hatred)” — pretty provocative title. Is there anything lyrically you would like people to listen for in this song?

It’s a song that I wrote years ago when I was faced with a very difficult human situation, something that we all go through. Whether it’s going to court, whether it’s being sick, whether it’s dealing with death of a parent, as people we’re faced with these fundamental moments where we have to really suit up for battle and win the fight. I wrote that song at that time, so it’s about — not embracing hatred, but using it to your advantage. And of course, now with what’s going on with the civil rights issues and the police issues, the hatred is out there and we have to come to terms with it and make it into something positive and something that doesn’t destroy us. So the song is a bit of a call to arms, but ultimately to end the war.

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On the album cut of that song, “Hatred,” your sister Martha Wainwright sings backup vocals. Obviously growing up in such a musical family affected you as an artist, but now you have your own family — you’re a husband, you’re a dad. How has being a husband and a dad influenced your work?

I have an incredible amount of support when I come home from a tour or from making an album or when I’m lonely out on the road. I know that there’s a couple of people who love me and are waiting for me, or who’ll come out and visit, so I’m very blessed and thankful that’s the case. I’m at the age now when people’s parents are dying and there are folks who, once their parents die, they don’t have that other soul in their life who loves them forever. So I’m very fortunate to have that.

Do they make their ways into your songs? I’m sure that they must.

No, they do. There’s actually a requirement that I write a song about each of them on every album, so it’s like a little game we play.

Which song is for whom on this one?

On this one, “Peaceful Afternoon” is for Jörn and “My Little You” is for Viva.

We’re recording this conversation right now on June 8, and we originally spoke a couple of weeks ago right before premiering the behind-the-scenes documentary about your new album, Unfollow the Rules. That was back in May. And since we’ve talked, a lot of things have really changed. We’re still in the middle of a pandemic; over the last couple of weeks, there have been protests across the country and around the world demanding an end to racism, to injustice, to police brutality, and I saw that you were out marching yourself in LA.

Yes. I haven’t gone to any of the big ones, mainly because we have our daughter with us a lot and it’s not kid-friendly at the moment. Near our house in the Valley, if you go over the other side of the hill and away from Hollywood, they do this protest every day on the corner of Ventura and Laurel Canyon Boulevard and it’s just like the neighborhood and a lot of kids and it’s during the afternoon, so I stopped there with my daughter a couple of times. And it was wonderful to do. It’s very important to get out there, however you can.

What was your daughter’s reaction to being out at the march?

She was kind of embarrassed of when I would start yelling. She said “Dad, you have to yell with everybody else — at the same time.”

I heard that the title track was inspired by something that Viva, your daughter, said. Could you tell us where the phrase “unfollow the rules” came from?

Our daughter, Viva, one day walked into the house and said “Oh daddy, I just want to unfollow the rules,” and then walked out. And I knew that I had a — I didn’t know I had a record, but I had a lyric and that lyric turned into a song, and then the song turned into a record. So thanks, Viva.

What is that idea of unfollowing the rules? What does that mean to you?

Well it means two things. One, it means to reexamine the rules and the world and to try to make an informed decision over whether to keep going in that fashion. So that’s how I read it. A more 21st century version is to unfollow, as in unfollow people on Facebook and Instagram, and cut people off which, as we know, never happens. Meaning no button gets rid of any information, it’s all stored somewhere. So I go with the first definition mostly.

You’ve had such a varied career: 10 albums, two operas, a tribute to Judy Garland, an album based on Shakespeare’s sonnets. What do you want to do next? Do you have something in mind already?

I’d like to make a French record. I’m feeling decidedly European these days.

Why’s that?

I was brought up in Montreal and I speak French and it’s just calling out to me to do something completely different from what I’ve done here with this album, which is very American and West Coast. I want to do something old and broken and French.

World Cafe: 7/9/20

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5 People Arrested In Killing Of Rapper Pop Smoke, LA Police Say

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5 People Arrested In Killing Of Rapper Pop Smoke, LA Police Say

Los Angeles police say they have arrested five people in connection with the February shooting death of rapper Pop Smoke. The late musician is seen here during Paris Fashion Week’s men’s fall-winter shows in January.

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Updated at 4 p.m. ET

Los Angeles police say they have arrested five people in connection with the killing earlier this year of Bashar Jackson — the rapper more famously known as Pop Smoke.

Three men and two juvenile males were arrested, the Los Angeles Police Department announced Thursday. They are in the custody of the Robbery-Homicide Division, a department spokesperson told NPR.

“Early this morning search and arrest warrants were served on several locations in Los Angeles,” Officer Norma Eisenman said in an email. She added that the names of those who were arrested will be released after they are questioned and booked.

The police did not give details about what crimes the men and juveniles are suspected of committing.

“We will provide further details as they become available,” the department said.

LAPD Detectives have arrested three adult males & two juvenile males related to the Feb 19th murder of Bashar Jackson, a New York based rapper known as Pop Smoke. We will provide further details as they become available.

— LAPD HQ (@LAPDHQ) July 9, 2020

Jackson was 20 years old when he was found wounded by gunfire in a house in the Hollywood Hills neighborhood on Feb. 19. He was taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and later pronounced dead.

Initial reports indicated that the house, a rental, had been broken into.

Jackson had been enjoying a rapid ascent in the music world, based on the success of his single, “Welcome to the Party.” The New York rapper’s name was back in the headlines earlier this month with the posthumous release of his debut album, Shoot for the Stars Aim for the Moon.

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Lady A The Band Sues Lady A The Singer

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Lady A The Band Sues Lady A The Singer

The country trio formerly known as Lady Antebellum told NPR that it is not opposed to a singer continue to use Lady A as a stage name.

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The country act now officially known as Lady A has sued a blues, soul and funk singer who says that she has used Lady A as her stage name for two decades.

On June 11, the country trio changed its name to Lady A, saying that they were, in retrospect, “regretful and embarrassed” that they hadn’t considered the loaded and racist history of “antebellum.” This was despite the fact that journalists had challenged them about it for years.

Shortly after the name change was announced, Anita White, who is a Black artist based in Seattle, emerged to say that she had already been performing under that name for about 20 years. It was an inauspicious beginning for the trio’s revamped image.

On June 15, the band posted to Instagram a screenshot of a Zoom call it had with White. “Transparent, honest, and authentic conversations were had,” the trio wrote in part. “We are excited to share we are moving forward with positive solutions and common ground. The hurt is turning into hope.” White posted the same message with the same image, on the same day. In its court filing, the group said that they had begun co-writing a song with White.

But that good will evidently soured quite quickly. The day after that happy Instagram post, White gave an emailed interview to Newsday, in which she wrote: “Their camp is trying to erase me and I’ll have more to say… Trust is important and I no longer trust them.”

According to the band’s court filing with the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee on Wednesday which NPR has obtained, White asked for “an exorbitant monetary demand” from the band as part of a proposed settlement on Tuesday.

In a statement to NPR Thursday morning, the trio said that White had requested $10 million. It added in part: “We never even entertained the idea that she shouldn’t also be able to use the name Lady A, and never will.” In its filing, the band also said that its fans had been using “Lady A” as a nickname for well over a decade, and it had referred to itself as “Lady A” on its own website starting in 2008.

A search by NPR showed that Lady A Entertainment LLC, based in Nashville, Tenn., filed three trademark applications related to the term “Lady A” in 2010; the same company filed for a fourth “Lady A” trademark on June 9, two days before the band started presenting itself publicly under the new moniker.

The lawsuit from the Nashville trio said that White had never opposed those trademark applications, nor did she seek the trademark herself.

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Drummer Chad Taylor Radiates Good Vibrations On ‘The Daily Biological’

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Drummer Chad Taylor Radiates Good Vibrations On ‘The Daily Biological’

Taylor brings hi-hat funk to his new trio’s album. It’s a slightly odd line-up, with no bass instrument — which opens up possibilities for different ways to kick the rhythm along.

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Arthur Jafa’s Glorious Vision And Kanye West’s Gilded Faith

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Arthur Jafa’s Glorious Vision And Kanye West’s Gilded Faith

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You may have already forgotten that Kanye West’s most recent promotional campaign — including a deal with the Gap and a long-shot political campaign — kicked off on June 30, with the release of a new single and music video.

West’s “Wash Us In The Blood” features his erstwhile rap protégé, Travis Scott, and comes to us from his forthcoming album God’s Country, ostensibly arriving this fall. At once recalling the sound of 2013’s Yeezus while building upon the religious themes of his most recent album, Jesus Is King, “Wash Us In The Blood” toggles between a jeremiad — against slavery and genocide as our event horizon — on the one hand, and the redemptive blood of the lamb on the other.

The song is moved with a jolting and hypnotic montage, featuring jarring police body cam clips, footage from recent uprisings, video game play, footage of Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, and gospel soloist Lateria Wooten singing with the Thomas Whitfield Company. West himself appears only intermittently, his face breaking through a CGI mask on split screen. But rather than feel rushed to meet this moment, it is clearly the work of a refined and mature artistic practice. The video was directed by Black film auteur Arthur Jafa, and allows West’s song to resonate both with its moment and with the insurgent cinematic movement Jafa has been spearheading for decades. Jafa has long described that movement as the search for a Black cinema with all the “power, beauty and alienation” of Black music.

Jafa’s approach to the video for “Wash Us In The Blood” samples imagery the way hip-hop samples sound, plumbing history to recontextualize and revivify it. He draws from a deep archive of footage, both his own and found or archival imagery, and reworks them into poetic meditations characterized by arresting juxtaposition and haunting interplay. Jafa has described his work as seeking a “visual intonation” akin to Black speech, giving it a signature flow. His seven-and-a-half minute short film Love Is the Message, The Message Is Death, from 2016, is perhaps the best entry-point into his work and, with Kanye West’s “Ultralight Beam” as its chopped-and-screwed soundtrack, the piece that most clearly precedes his present collaboration. A visual essay furiously overstuffed with everything from clips of president Obama singing “Amazing Grace” to a teenage Biggie Smalls rapping on a corner to voguers showing out on the dance floor to science fiction aliens and astrophysical footage of sun flares, Love Is the Message makes effective use of West’s repeated invocation — “this is a God dream” — to hold its incandescent rage and beauty together. At once maximalist and minimalist, a viewing leaves you breathless and eager for more.

Arthur Jafa, photographed in Milan, Italy on Jan. 14, 2020.

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Besides working with West, Jafa is enjoying a career peak of late: Love Is the Message was livestreamed continuously by 13 museums worldwide during the last weekend in June, making a film that many describe as one of the first masterpieces of the new century available to a global audience. Jafa won the Golden Lion for best artist in last year’s Venice Biennale for his film The White Album, which employed his now-signature use of appropriated footage to reflect a Black gaze back upon the problem of “whiteness.” This recent embrace of Jafa by the art world, who has been working professionally since the early 1990s, is both telling and symptomatic of the whiteness he cross-sects — and dreams of abolishing — in The White Album. On the one hand, museums and galleries have afforded an ideal context for Jafa to break with the conventions of the commercial film industry that he believes stifle the potential of Black cinema. On the other, the art world has itself been rocked by a series of reckonings with its own structural white supremacy, a topic that Jafa (also an incisive writer) dealt with in a recent pamphlet, “My Black Death.” The belated, deserved recognition of Jafa’s work by an art world now seemingly and suddenly desperate for Black representation could oversimplify his originality, and risks reducing the richness of a work like Love is the Message to a depiction of Black suffering. At the same time, Jafa is in no way eager to shirk the task of depicting Black suffering. At the close of that pamphlet, in a Black hagakure, or spiritual code for a warrior, Jafa puts things this way: “The central conundrum of black being (the double consciousness of our ontological existence) lies in the fact that common misery both defines and limits who we are.” (His feature Dreams Are Colder Than Death features Black studies luminaries such as Hortense Spillers, Fred Moten and Saidiya Hartman in dialogue on this topic, and is worth seeking out).

This metaphysical conundrum has led both Jafa and West in recent years down a converging path towards the gospel, as a location where generations of African-Americans have found meaning and transcendence amidst terror and suffering. For West, it seems to be at once sincere faith and a grandiose god complex, a tension that the song “Wash Us in the Blood” doesn’t resolve. The video closes with footage of his daughter at a rehearsal for one of the family’s exclusive Sunday Services, performances often based on gospel versions of West’s music, that the Kardashian-West family has been hosting since 2019. It is a little reminder that celebrity remains our national religion. For Jafa, by contrast, the gospel appeals as an aesthetic of the ensemble, within which the opposition between individual and collective is overcome.

If West’s turn to faith only burnishes the construction of his myth, Jafa takes a more circumspect approach. The Black gospel tradition, in all its permutations, is the subject of his feature-length film akingdoncomethas, from 2018. Seen in a gallery space, the epic scale and scope of the assembled footage of akingdoncomethas brings the viewer into the ecstatic of collective worship and holds her there, mesmerized. These services happen anywhere and everywhere in Black America, including — and here’s the rub — inside the gated compounds of the one percent.

Although he claims no religion, Jafa has put it this way: “I believe in Black people believing.” What makes Jafa an artist of our times is his ability to show that belief in so many kaleidoscopic forms. Being held in dispersion, striking a Black pose against a white background, spitting fire in the cypher and throwing praises as blood rains down: these are some of the vital elements of Jafa’s montage. Remixing is, by now, a global lingua franca — what makes Jafa’s work stand out, and stand together, is what he has to say.

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Chicano Batman: Tiny Desk (Home) Concert

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Chicano Batman: 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.


It’s very appropriate that Chicano Batman‘s Tiny Desk Home Concert comes with the band members in four separate boxes.

The group has been an Alt.Latino favorite, almost from the beginning, and I’ve always enjoyed listening to how creatively they’ve crafted their musical identity with layers of sound, from vintage organs to the most nuanced of funk grooves. So, watching them in their individual Hollywood-Squares-type boxes is the visual equivalent to how I listen to them.

The songs performed are from their new album, Invisible People which, coincidentally, is a major shift in their group sound. As you hear in songs like “Polymetronomic Harmony,” their sound is now much denser, with full-on references to a variety of influences, including the 1973, Herbie Hancock funk-jazz classic Head Hunters, which makes a walk-on appearance in the stack of vinyl just behind guitarist Carlos Arévalo.

Vocalist and keyboardist, Bardo Martinez, bassist, Eduardo Arenas, and drummer, Gabriel Villa all close their eyes during the performances, and you can both see and hear how they mentally inhabit the same musical place that has made them a favorite and clubs and festivals for nearly ten years, now.

Even as they each perform in their home music spaces, they can’t avoid bringing it all together to give us a Chicano Batman performance that grooves hard and brings a smile to our faces.

SET LIST

  • “I know It”
  • “Moment of Joy”
  • “Color my life”
  • “Polymetronomic Harmony”

MUSICIANS

Bardo Martinez: vocals, guitar, keys; Carlos Arevalo: guitar; Eduardo Arenas: bass, vocals; Gabriel Villa: drums, percussion

CREDITS

Video By: Jon Lurie; Audio By: Chicano Batman, Jose Cruz, Matt Lynch; Producer: Bob Boilen; Audio Mastering Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Video Producer: Maia Stern; Associate Producer: Bobby Carter; Executive Producer: Lauren Onkey; Senior VP, Programming: Anya Grundmann

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Charlie Daniels, Who Sang Of The Devil In Georgia, Is Dead At 83

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Charlie Daniels, Who Sang Of The Devil In Georgia, Is Dead At 83

Charlie Daniels performs in Nashville in 2013. Daniels died Monday at the age of 83.

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One of country’s most familiar artists has died. Charlie Daniels — a singer, songwriter, bandleader and player of many instruments — died Monday in Nashville. His death was confirmed by his publicist, Don Murry Grubbs, who said that he died of a hemorrhagic stroke. He was 83 years old.

Charlie Daniels was born Oct. 28, 1936 in Wilmington, North Carolina. He started out playing bluegrass locally with the Misty Mountain Boys before moving to Nashville in 1967. He was already becoming known as a songwriter as well; he co-wrote an Elvis Presley song, “It Hurts Me,” in 1964.

By the late 1960s, he was already becoming an important link between country music and artists outside the country and Southern-rock spheres. He played guitar and bass guitar on Bob Dylan’s 1969 project Nashville Skyline, and later worked with Leonard Cohen, George Harrison and others. He and his band also appeared in the 1980 film Urban Cowboy.

As the bandleader of the Charlie Daniels Band, he began hosting the Volunteer Jam in 1974 in Nashville. Over the years, this wide-ranging festival featured artists like John Prine, Lynyrd Skynyrd, James Brown, Carl Perkins, Emmylou Harris and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

In 1979, Daniels won his only Grammy for his biggest mainstream hit: “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” which featured his blistering violin and growled vocals in a retread of classic stories linking Satan to music — and even to the fiddle in particular.


Charlie Daniels
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Daniels was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2016.

He was closely aligned with veterans’ causes; in 2014, he co-founded The Journey Home Project, a charity dedicated to supporting veterans. He also was closely tied to the NRA, for whom he made commercials, including one calling President Obama a “fresh-faced, flower-child president [with] his weak-kneed, Ivy League friends.”

By contrast, he told NPR in 1976 that he would be “glad” to play at the inauguration ball for President Jimmy Carter, whom he supported. (And he did play that gig.)

Up until July 3, Daniels was posting thoughts on a section of his website entitled “Soap Box.”

Late last month, he railed against the protesters amassing in the streets against police brutality, writing: “It will dawn on you that this is not a simple protest against the unjust killing of a black man, but a revolutionary street battle against America and everything we stand for and it IS funded and lead by socialist factions, and it’s not just in the US but in many democratic nations around the world … Gun sales are through the roof and America is locked and loaded to protect their families and their neighborhoods.”

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