Archive For The “Music” Category

Marking Legendary Golden-Age Pianist Erroll Garner’s Centennial

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Marking Legendary Golden-Age Pianist Erroll Garner’s Centennial

Prodigal pianist and composer Erroll Garner, whose centennial birthday will be marked in September.

Vernon Smith/Courtesy of the artist

Vernon Smith/Courtesy of the artist

Erroll Garner, the effervescent and boundlessly inventive jazz pianist and composer, died more than 40 years ago, at the age of 55. A household name and major concert attraction in his prime, he has recently regained a measure of cultural cachet thanks to the Erroll Garner Project, which made a splash five years ago with an expanded rerelease of Garner’s landmark album, Concert By the Sea.

The Garner Project went on to produce material like Nightconcert, a live album from 1964 [Disclosure: An album for which I wrote liner notes]; the Octave Remastered Series, consisting of 12 albums originally issued through Garner’s artist-owned label, and an associated podcast, hosted by jazz historian and scholar Robin D.G. Kelley. Back in 2018, Jazz Night in America devoted a radio episode to the wonders of Garner’s vault and the tireless efforts of his modern stewards. It should come as a surprise to no one, then, that the Erroll Garner Project has big plans in store for Garner’s centennial, which falls this June 15.

Working with the Mack Avenue Music Group, the Project will release a previously unissued album recorded in concert at Symphony Hall in Boston on Jan. 17, 1959. The concert, a sold-out affair produced by the equally legendary George Wein, featured Garner with his working rhythm team of Eddie Calhoun on bass and Kelly Martin on drums.

NPR Music has the exclusive premiere of one song from the concert: “Moment’s Delight,” an impressionistic idyll that previously appeared as the B side to Garner’s single “Misty” in 1957. (Both tunes appeared on the Columbia album Other Voices, featuring Mitch Miller and his orchestra.) In this version, Garner furnishes the tune with a rubato introduction before settling into an easy tempo, maintaining a soft cushion of left-hand tremolos. Almost precisely two minutes in, he adopts a sturdier approach, chording the pulse with his left hand while improvising colorful flourishes with his right.


In addition to Symphony Hall Concert, Mack Avenue and the Erroll Garner Project will release two boxed sets: Liberation In Swing: The Octave Records Story & Complete Symphony Hall Concert, which will feature the full Boston concert on 3 LPs; a single-LP compilation from the Octave Remastered series, and Liberation In Swing: Centennial Collection, which will include the Octave Remastered series on CD, a series of original 1967 promotional boxes with five 7-inch singles, and a cassette replica of Garner’s final live appearance in 1975 at Chicago venue Mister Kelly’s.

Both will include a 60-page hardcover book featuring examples of Garner’s Surrealist-inspired visual art, along with new essays by Dr. Kelley, drummer and NEA Jazz Master Terri Lyne Carrington, and singer and MacArthur Fellow Cécile McLorin Salvant.

On Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. ET, Carrington, Salvant and Dr. Kelley will participate in Erroll Garner at 100: Redefining a Legacy, a panel discussion presented by Jazz Congress. The panel, a virtual presentation accessible free of charge with conference registration, will also feature pianist Christian Sands, the Creative Ambassador of the Erroll Garner Jazz Project; and Peter Lockhart, who as senior producer with Octave Music has served as its lead coordinator.

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“History is often obscured, allowing for some of our distinguished messengers’ greatest offerings to be taken for granted,” Carrington writes in her essay. “The discovery of this concert recording helps us to clearly understand that Garner’s interpretive freedom of rhythm and melody, combined with his command of the instrument, made him light years ahead of his time.”

Symphony Hall Concert and both editions of Liberation in Swing will be released on Sept. 17.

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Winning Isn’t Everything: Tiny Desk Concerts From Standout Contest Entrants

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Winning Isn’t Everything: Tiny Desk Concerts From Standout Contest Entrants

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Each year, we ask unsigned artists from across the country to send us their songs as part of the Tiny Desk Contest. And each year, one artist wins the grand prize and gets to play their very own Tiny Desk concert.

But winning isn’t everything; NPR Music is introduced to thousands of talented musicians who send us videos of themselves playing their original songs behind their desks. We do our best to share the most impressive entries — NPR Music staff favorites; Contest judges’ favorites; public radio’s favorites and more — with the world. In the past, we’ve taken our winner on tour across the country and invited standout entrants to open for them. Sometimes, Bob Boilen is so blown away by an artist that, after seeing their performance, he invites them to play a set behind his Tiny Desk, too.

The first year of the Contest, we discovered Seratones, a gospel rock and roll band from Louisiana who caught our attention with singer-guitarist A.J. Haynes’ vibrant voice and enrapturing energy. In 2017, at the Tiny Desk Contest On The Road Tour in Portland, we met singer-songwriter Haley Heynderickx. She entered the Contest three years in a row, and while she never won, she says the Contest changed her life. We invited Heynderickx to perform her cathartic, delicate songs behind the Desk in 2018.

The most powerful story Bob Boilen has ever come across at the Tiny Desk — a story of friendship, compassion and determination that left us all in tears — comes from Bernie and the Believers, who entered the Contest in 2018 and performed a Tiny Desk concert later that year. That same year, artist Lau Noah, who sings in Catalan, Spanish, English and sometimes Hebrew, earned a spot at the Desk after she dazzled us with her achingly beautiful and thought-provoking song “La Realidad.”

The Contest also introduced us to California rapper Hobo Johnson, whose singularity was undeniable. Over 20 million users on YouTube have been roped in by the crash-and-burn explosive emotion in his 2018 Contest entry, “Peach Scone.” (And when his viral entry earned him a spot behind Bob’s desk, Bob welcomed him with an apt offering: homemade peach scones.)

You’ll find performances from all these artists we discovered through the Contest and more in this playlist. And if you’re an unsigned artist with a song to share, we hope you’ll enter this year’s Tiny Desk Contest by June 7.


Tiny Desks In This Playlist

Seratones
Haley Heynderickx
Bernie and the Believers
Lau Noah
Hobo Johnson
Deqn Sue
River Whyless
Kuinka
Scott Mulvahill
&More

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Sister Duo Aly And AJ Return To Music With New Album

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Sister Duo Aly And AJ Return To Music With New Album

Sister musical duo Aly and AJ Michalka talk about their fourth studio album – A Touch of the Beat Gets You Up On Your Feet.

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St. Vincent On The Sleazy ’70s Sounds And The Background Stories Of ‘Daddy’s Home’

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St. Vincent On The Sleazy ’70s Sounds And The Background Stories Of ‘Daddy’s Home’

NPR’s Audie Cornish speaks with musician Annie Clark about her new ’70s-inspired album as St. Vincent, called Daddy’s Home.


AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Depending on the album, St. Vincent might inhabit a persona. Near-Future cult leader, dominatrix at the mental institution – that’s how she’s described some of them. On her new album, she’s going for a time and place.

ST VINCENT: My specific references were music made in New York City from 1971 to 1976, which is…

CORNISH: That is very specific (laughter).

ST VINCENT: Yes, it is after very specific. Yes. It’s after the, like, flowers-in-your-hair idealism of the flower children, but it’s before the escapism and ecstatic excess of gay disco or the nihilism of punk.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “DOWN”)

ST VINCENT: (Singing) Tell me who hurt you. No, wait. I don’t care to hear an excuse why you think you can be cruel, cruel, cruel, cruel.

CORNISH: St. Vincent is the singer and multi-instrumentalist Annie Clark. And the sounds on her new album “Daddy’s Home” are a nod to her father’s record collection and the lyrics to her reckoning with the decade or so he spent in prison for financial crimes. He was released in 2019, and we’ll talk about that in a bit. But first, how she nailed that sound.

ST VINCENT: You had the combination of rock, jazz, blues, funk, soul in a way that was very sophisticated, but you didn’t know it. It just sounded good and when artists, writers, people like Stevie Wonder and Steely Dan and Lou Reed were speaking to the specific human condition at that time, which seemed to me, even though I didn’t live through it, like life was bad but music was good.

CORNISH: What song nailed that for you or kicked that off for you in this album?

ST VINCENT: I would say a song like “Daddy’s Home.” It’s a slow reggae.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “DADDY’S HOME”)

ST VINCENT: (Singing) I signed autographs in the visitation room.

It’s this very sleazy reggae with a very sleazy story on top. Everything physically to me on this record is like, yeah, you’re just flicking a cigarette. The ba, ba, ba, ba (ph) – you know, it’s just, like, in and out.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “DADDY’S HOME”)

ST VINCENT: (Singing) Daddy’s home.

CORNISH: This is the one, I think, that also gets a lot of attention just because of the title, the lyrics and the background of the history, the idea that your father had been in prison for a time. Were you tempted not to do a song like this, right?

ST VINCENT: (Laughter).

CORNISH: Like, because I’m seeing a person who was very tight-lipped during the time – right? – who did not talk to the tabloids when this was revealed – totally understandable – but some years later is on “SNL” with “Daddy’s Home” on the back in sequins.

ST VINCENT: (Laughter).

CORNISH: That’s – you know, it kind of says to the world, OK, I’m ready to talk.

ST VINCENT: Oh, gosh. You know, I was – both of my parents and my brothers and sisters came to “SNL.” And I was joking with my parents and saying, yeah, how are you guys going to feel with, you know, your daughter in a blonde wig on live TV screaming, I want to be loved? How is that going to feel for you guys?

CORNISH: I haven’t even gotten to that lyric.

(LAUGHTER)

ST VINCENT: And, you know, I laughed. I’m not sure that they did. But no. I mean, yes, the title “Daddy’s Home” to me means a lot of things. I mean, one, it is, yes, my literal father was released from prison after 10 years, you know, and…

CORNISH: And this was fairly recently, just so people have some context. This was 2019.

ST VINCENT: Yes, this was the fall of 2019. My real, literal father was released from prison after 10 years, so there’s, you know, that. But then also, “Daddy’s Home” to me is really marking my own transition into very comfortably taking up space. Like, I’m daddy now. And just literally – like, I have responsibilities (laughter), you know? I’m taking care of my parents now (laughter). So in a funny way, those tables have turned.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “DADDY’S HOME”)

ST VINCENT: (Singing) Daddy’s home.

CORNISH: Does it also give you control of the story? Like, I’ve been very intrigued watching various pop artists in particular in this space – and I think we’re talking more about it also as we talk about women in pop – of an ability to be in control of a narrative that can get out of your control very quickly.

ST VINCENT: Yes. It’s – to be honest, I don’t think it’s anything I would have put out there except that it was put out there without my consent. And so when the time kind of came and he actually was released and I realized I was writing some things that were about that experience, I thought, well, I mean, Daddy’s home. It’s already out there. But if I tell the story, I can tell it with humor and compassion and not the kind of salaciousness, I guess, that it would be told in a tabloid story.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “SOMEBODY LIKE ME”)

ST VINCENT: (Singing) Does it make you a genius or the fool of the week to believe enough in somebody like me?

CORNISH: Has it ever made you rethink the balance between how much of your work does have autobiographical elements versus storytelling – right? – just kind of storytelling about imagined people?

ST VINCENT: Well, all of my work is so autobiographical, and I realized that that might not be obvious to the listener sometimes or that lyrically it might not seem exactly literal. But it doesn’t make me go, oh, I should be less vulnerable in my work.

CORNISH: I guess that’s what I’m asking. Yeah. Like, do you just want to protect yourself more?

ST VINCENT: No, I don’t because actually I think vulnerability is a superpower. And if I let the idea that this might get misconstrued or, oh, shoot, I’m going to have to talk about something in the press, stop me from going to very deep places, that would be – that’s the tail wagging the dog.

(SOUNDBITE OF ST. VINCENT’S “PAY YOUR WAY IN PAIN”)

CORNISH: Well, I probably shouldn’t let you go without asking. How are things with your dad, if I can ask?

ST VINCENT: Oh, no, you can totally ask. You know what is hilarious? My dad is in Los Angeles visiting me, and he is currently painting my deck. If you had said to me three, five, 10 years ago, what do you think life is going to look like right now, I would not have said, oh, my dad will be here painting my deck. It’s a funny world. And I think it’s been heartening to know that life is long and people can redeem themselves. And you really don’t know what the future’s going to hold. It might just surprise you. So that’s my Hallmark moment.

CORNISH: (Laughter) Listen. Take it where you can get it, right? These days, it’s rough out here.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “PAY YOUR WAY IN PAIN”)

ST VINCENT: (Singing) Pay your way in pain.

CORNISH: Annie Clark, thank you so much for speaking with us. This has been really a pleasure.

ST VINCENT: Oh, my pleasure – any time.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “PAY YOUR WAY IN PAIN”)

ST VINCENT: (Singing) Pay your way in shame.

CORNISH: The new album from St. Vincent is called “Daddy’s Home,” and it’s out now.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “PAY YOUR WAY IN PAIN”)

ST VINCENT: (Singing) You know what I want. What do you want? What do you want? You know what I want. Keep the rest, baby. I want to be loved.

Copyright © 2021 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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Margaret Cho’s 5 Favorite Tiny Desk Concerts

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Margaret Cho’s 5 Favorite Tiny Desk Concerts

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For Tiny Desk Playlists, we ask musicians, creators and folks we admire to choose the Tiny Desk concerts they’ve come to love. For this edition, we asked comedian, podcaster and actress Margaret Cho to pick her favorites.

Margaret Cho does it all. We’ve always known her as a successful stand-up comedian with a thin filter, but nowadays she’s been hosting her own podcast, The Margaret Cho, and starring in TV shows and countless films including Netflix’s first major animated film, Over the Moon, which features an entirely Asian cast. So for AAPI Heritage Month, we were excited to hear which Tiny Desk concerts Cho keeps coming back to. —Maia Stern


BTS — I love BTS. They are incredible. I love BTS! And I love their outfits. They’re just amazing; the diversity that they’re able to bring and the way that they present their music is always incredible. So yes, I am part of the BTS army and I love them. Their Tiny Desk concert was amazing.

Mitski — My very favorite Tiny Desk concert. If I could sound like anybody as a singer, songwriter, whatever, musician — it would be Mitski. Mitski is just amazing. Her Tiny Desk concert is just amazing. When I see her, everything is good in the world.

Boygenius — Phoebe Bridgers is one of my favorite artists, so I love the band Boygenius and I loved their Tiny Desk concert. I love all of their separate bands, but of course Phoebe Bridgers is probably best known with her record Punisher, which is a monster hit. She’s just phenomenal and Boygenius is great.

Fantastic Negrito — Another friend of mine and incredible Tiny Desk concert. He’s just an amazing artist. He’s got his own thing happening and it’s so unique and it’s also so familiar to my heart. Like, it’s my heart music. I was incidentally supposed to be on that record, but we could not make it work. Fantastic Negrito is just phenomenal.

Megan Thee Stallion — Another amazing Tiny Desk concert by a hip-hop artist — really unique, really different. This performance really captured the large and layered sounds but didn’t lose anything in the translation — you had a lot of electronic percussive vocal elements that very much reside in the studio, and to bring that into a live performance is really challenging. She’s phenomenal.


Tiny Desks In This Playlist

Mitski
BTS
Boygenius
Fantastic Negrito
Megan Thee Stallion

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One Year Later, Pianist Helen Sung Returns To The Stage

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One Year Later, Pianist Helen Sung Returns To The Stage

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When Helen Sung played at Dizzy’s Club on March 1, 2020, the pianist never imagined it would be a full year before she returned to the stage. Just ten days later, COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic. Music venues around the world closed doors and all tours were canceled or postponed indefinitely. Like musicians and artists everywhere, Sung turned to arts organizations for support and was fortunate enough to receive grants to continue creating music.

In this concert — filmed at Dizzy’s on March 11, 2021 — Helen Sung and her quartet play several pieces born out of the sorrow, loss and anxiety caused by the pandemic. There is no audience in attendance; thus, no applause. But between songs, she says, “We hope to see you soon again, on stage, somewhere in person.”

That hope is starting to bear fruit. Sung recently recorded a double album with her quartet. Her collaboration with Miriam King, a dancer and neurorehabilitation researcher, was selected for the New Music USA 2021 Creator Development Fund. And recently, Sung was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship.

Learn more about Helen Sung and her background in our radio episode.

Set List

  • “Long Yellow Road” (Toshiko Akiyoshi)
  • “Elegy for the City” (Helen Sung)
  • “Coquette” (Helen Sung)
  • “Time Loops” (Helen Sung)

Musicians

Helen Sung, piano; John Ellis, saxophones and flute; David Wong, bass; Kendrick Scott, drums

For more episodes, including our weekly radio show, full-length concert films and short video documentaries, head to Jazz Night in America.

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Briana Wright Comes Into Her Own In Tulsa, A City That Hasn’t

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Briana Wright Comes Into Her Own In Tulsa, A City That Hasn’t

Briana Wright says she turns to music to express what it means to be fully herself, in a city that has not yet reconciled with its past.

Fear the Locals/Courtesy of the artist

Fear the Locals/Courtesy of the artist

If music is the compass by which we navigate a complicated world, it’s no surprise that Tulsa lays claim to artists as diverse as Leon Russell, Hanson, Anita Bryant and The Gap Band. Creativity flourishes in a city that continues to grapple with its past — the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, the Trail of Tears — and its present poverty, homelessness, mental illness and substance abuse. In the middle blooms singer-songwriter Briana Wright, a bright talent finding her voice while clearing a path for others to follow.

Like many Oklahoma musicians, Wright grew up singing in church. A first-place win at a high school talent show sparked her dream of a career in music. Wright’s cover of a Mariah Carey tune earned her $100 and began a journey that includes an impressive stint on Simon Cowell’s X-Factor in 2012. She made it all the way to “boot camp” in Miami before being cut. It was a tough moment for the aspiring vocalist.

“I didn’t want to sing, and I was angry,” she explains. “Once I got home, the hurt washed away. I recovered and got my spine straight. It was do or die.”

A determined Wright filmed a music video and sent it to every restaurant, bar and venue she knew, eventually landing a gig at a barbecue joint, which led to regular performances at a popular pizza place downtown. Her confidence grew with each performance, from the lobby of the local Whole Foods — where she and her guitarist were paid in grocery gift cards — to weddings, funerals and festivals.

At 31, Wright is now a veteran of the Tulsa music scene, known for her gorgeous, versatile voice. Pre-pandemic, regular performances with Nightingale, her longtime soul-infused Americana band, paid the bills and allowed her to quit her day job to stay home with her young daughter. Last year, she joined established indie-pop outfit Cliffdiver as a co-frontperson. According to Wright, the two very different musical projects provide the opportunity to stretch her creative muscles.

“I love the contrast between Nightingale and Cliffdiver. It’s really representative of who I am,” she says. “I work hard no matter what. But it takes the pressure off, knowing that all my creative eggs aren’t in one basket. I’ve got a lot of eggs. I’ve got crazy eggs.”

Inspired by the upcoming centennial of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, Wright recently began exploring her identity as a solo artist. The daughter of a mother who is of Indigenous and European ancestry and a father who is African American, Wright describes herself as multiracial. While Wright’s mom felt it was important for her children to understand their roots, it wasn’t something Wright gave a lot of thought as a teenager growing up in a predominantly white suburb of Tulsa.

“I think my mom always had a weight about us being mixed and living in the suburbs,” Wright says. “She would always talk about it. She traced my dad’s genealogy back to plantations, and told us all about it.”

For Wright, however, the 2014 shooting of Michael Brown by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo., felt like a veil being lifted. She began to examine her own life and experiences in a new light.

“Suddenly, my experience was enough for me to feel like it’s okay to be who I am,” Wright says. “I never, ever talked about race before. I never had the gall to. I didn’t want to know who around me was racist. It would just be too painful.”

Wright says she turns to music to express what it means to be fully herself in a city that has not yet reconciled with its past. The experience has been complicated, difficult and yet powerful.

“Growing up, I didn’t have that Black community. I didn’t have people who looked like me around,” she says. “Being biracial has always been sort of like an identity crisis, where I’m subject to the same experiences, but I didn’t necessarily have that community. It’s a sort of a disenfranchisement, and Tulsa is the perfect metaphor for that.”

Excited to explore these themes as a solo artist, she isn’t giving up on her hometown.

“I’m always hopeful. I’m always optimistic. I haven’t left Tulsa for a lot of really good reasons. I think we are better than the sum of our parts,” she says. “I have to believe that all the work and the conversations, all the signs and yelling and protests, all the pleading and crying — I just have to believe that moves hearts. I have to believe that opens minds. And I’m willing to sit here until we fix this mess. I’m willing to stay here and do my part.”

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Vincent Herring Infuses Jazz With Bold Strokes And Swagger On ‘Minor Swing’

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Vincent Herring Infuses Jazz With Bold Strokes And Swagger On ‘Minor Swing’

Herring is an alto saxophonist with a dynamic sound and aggressive attitude. His new album features jazz with a big dollop of swing R&B feeling, steeped in the African American vernacular.

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You Can Now Enter The 2021 Tiny Desk Contest

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You Can Now Enter The 2021 Tiny Desk Contest

YouTube

If you’re an unsigned musician who has always dreamed of playing a Tiny Desk concert, you’re in luck: Starting today, you can enter the 2021 Tiny Desk Contest. We’re accepting entries to our nationwide search for the next great undiscovered artist through June 7 at 11:59 p.m. ET.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • To be eligible, you must be at least 18 years old and a resident of the United States. You can’t currently have a record deal.
  • When you’re ready to enter, create a new video of you playing one original song at a desk (any desk — get creative!) and upload it to YouTube. Then, fill out the entry form on our website.
  • Our panel of judges — including members of NPR Music, colleagues from NPR Member stations and alumni of the Tiny Desk — will choose our winner.

If you win, you’ll play your very own Tiny Desk concert at NPR’s headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Any questions? Check out the Contest’s official rules and FAQs. To check if your entry video is eligible to win, we’ve put together this helpful checklist.

If you’re looking for inspiration for your entry video, are curious about what winning has meant for our previous winners or just want to chat with other Tiny Desk Contest fans, join us at Tiny Desk Contest Family Hour this afternoon at 3 p.m. At this live virtual event, we’ll present performances by all six of our previous Contest winners. They’ll also share tips for artists entering the Contest right now. And between performances, Bob Boilen will chat with past winners Gaelynn Lea and Tarriona “Tank” Ball of Tank and the Bangas about their experiences entering the Contest. See you there!

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‘Mr. Personality’ Lloyd Price Dead At 88

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‘Mr. Personality’ Lloyd Price Dead At 88

Singer Lloyd Price, best known for the hits “Lawdy Miss Clawdy” and “Stagger Lee,” died in New Rochelle, N.Y., last week at the age of 88.


MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Before Little Richard, there was Lloyd Price, a pioneer of rock ‘n’ roll.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “PERSONALITY”)

LLOYD PRICE: (Singing) ‘Cause you’ve got – walk – talk – smile…

KELLY: Singer Lloyd Price died in New Rochelle, N.Y., last week. He was 88. NPR’s Mandalit del Barco reports.

MANDALIT DEL BARCO, BYLINE: His nickname was Mr. Personality, a tenor who owned his own music, was his own agent and manager and more at a time when such independence was extremely rare, especially for a young Black man. When he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1993, Price talked about growing up in Kenner, La., one of 11 children. As a teen, he listened to a Black radio deejay named Okey Dokey Smith.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRICE: He would come on – Lawdy Miss Clawdy, eat your mother’s homemade pie.

DEL BARCO: Price said he was noodling around with that catch phrase on the piano at his mother’s sandwich shop when a New Orleans big band leader stopped by.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRICE: He said, you know what? There’s a record producer – a guy owns a record company – from California coming in to New Orleans. They’re looking for young talent to record.

DEL BARCO: So in 1952, when he was 17, Price recorded his song for $50. The record company added Fats Domino on boogie-woogie piano.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “LAWDY MISS CLAWDY”)

PRICE: (Singing) Well now lawdy, lawdy, lawdy, Miss Clawdy. Girl, you sure look good to me. Well, please don’t excite me baby. No, it can’t be me.

DEL BARCO: “Lawdy Miss Clawdy” was a hit on the R&B charts in 1952 and was performed by Little Richard, Elvis Presley and others. The song attracted Black and white audiences. Price told CUNY TV host Michael Stoller in 2012 that crossover didn’t sit so well in the Jim Crow South.

(SOUNDBITE OF CUNY TV BROADCAST)

PRICE: The draft board called me in and said that the chairman of the Armed Service (ph) Committee said I had to go in the army. I had to go in the military. And it was because of my music. I was integrating the South. So they took me on in the army and thought that that’d knocked me off, I guess. But I managed to survive that.

DEL BARCO: When he returned from Korea, Price began recording again, including the hit song “Stagger Lee” about a barroom shooting.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “STAGGER LEE”)

PRICE: (Singing) Stagger Lee shot Billy. Oh, he shot that poor boy so bad till the bullet came through Billy, and it broke the bar tender’s glass. Look out, snake (ph). Come on.

DEL BARCO: In the 1960s, Price started his own music labels and owned a New York nightclub. And later, he co-promoted prizefights for Muhammad Ali.

Mandalit del Barco, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “LAWDY MISS CLAWDY”)

PRICE: (Singing) Well now lawdy, lawdy, lawdy Miss Clawdy…

Copyright © 2021 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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