Kelis Rogers has made a career of reinventing herself. When the R&B singer, whose "Milkshake" made her an international pop star in 2003, took the stage last week at SXSW in Austin, Texas, it marked her first live show in the United States in years. Kelis herself insists she never went away (she's continued to tour in Europe and Asia), but she did make a big career change after releasing her last album in 2006: She went to cooking school.
Annie Clark, who records under the name St. Vincent, has never done anything musically as it might be expected. From the beginning, her guitar playing defied convention, while her compositions have evolved drastically since her debut album Marry Me in 2007.
Pianist and horn player Nadine Jansen got her start as a part of Horace Heidt's amateur show. Performing alongside The Clooney Sisters, Skitch Henderson and Tony Pastor, Jansen learned show business from the best entertainers around. She quickly made a name for herself on the nightclub circuit, particularly in clubs like New York's Capital Theatre and the Blue Note in Chicago.
The iconic folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary made music together for nearly 50 years, arriving on the scene with a 1962 self-titled album and its hit "If I Had a Hammer." Mary Travers died in 2009, but Peter Yarrow and Noel Paul Stookey continue to tour as a duo.
Fifty years ago today, Andrew Hill recorded what would become his signature album: Point of Departure. Fifty years later, it still sounds like it could have been recorded yesterday. Assembling a murderer's row of horn players (Eric Dolphy, Kenny Dorham, Joe Henderson) with a rhythm section for the ages (Hill, Richard Davis, Tony Williams), Hill juxtaposed complex, layered harmonies with charged grooves. The result occupies that rare territory between the comfort of the familiar and the allure of the perceptibly unique.
Johann Sebastian Bach, with his big white wig, might stand as the "supreme arbiter and lawgiver of music," as musicologist Nicolas Slonimsky says. But the composer, organist, choirmaster and teacher could also be surprisingly witty and irreverent.
The group known as Celtic Fiddle Festival began with Scotsman Johnny Cunningham, Irishman Kevin Burke, and Christian LeMaitre of Britanny wanting to bring together the fiddle traditions of all three countries. Upon Cunningham's passing in 2003, Andre Brunet of Quebec joined the lineup. While the group was originally conceived as a one-off, the audience response was such that Celtic Fiddle Festival is still touring and recording two decades after its formation.
This 2005 performance on Mountain Stage features Burke, LeMaitre, Brunet and guitarist Ged Foley.
Morning Edition's Steve Inskeep stops in Zapata, Texas, in the latest installment of our Borderland series. Zapata is the hometown of the lead singer of Intocable, a band popular on both sides of the border. Ricky Munoz explains how listening to a mix of Mexican music, country hits and rock bands like Def Leppard while growing up influenced his band.