At 34, John Legend has sold millions of records, won nine Grammys, collaborated with many of the biggest stars in music (Jay-Z, Kanye West, Alicia Keys, The Roots, et al), and achieved the kind of statesmanlike musical-ambassador status usually afforded to artists twice his age.
Memphis' Stax Records was an international sensation, putting out hits like Sam and Dave's "Hold On, I'm Coming," "Green Onions" by Booker T. and the MGs and Otis Redding's "Try a Little Tenderness." But behind the music, Stax's story features racial harmony in a city with a troubled history. There are tragedies, lost opportunities and legal disputes, but also some of the most soulful music you'll ever hear.
Born and raised in Houston, pianist Robert Glasper literally grew up in jazz clubs. His mother performed with a jazz band, and she preferred to bring her young son with her, rather than leave him with a sitter. Glasper and his mother were also active in music at their church — his mother sang and played piano, and by age 12, her son had assumed some of the piano duties.
World Cafe's Sense of Place: Toronto series continues, as Jian Ghomeshi welcomes us to the set of his popular CBC radio and TV show, Q. The program covers arts and culture daily through in-depth interviews.
Ghomeshi has a unique perspective on Toronto's music scene, having been a member of Moxy Früvous, a politically satirical a cappella band from the '90s. In conversation with host David Dye, the Iranian-Canadian musician talks about how immigration has shaped Toronto as a city and as a music hub.
I've never seen anyone play guitar quite the way Marian McLaughlin does, or sing the patterns she sings. After catching her live a few years ago, I thought this could either be someone naively noodling or deliberately taking an adventure. I've come to the conclusion it's a bit of both. You can see and hear how McLaughlin pulls this off in a new video for her song "Before You Leave."
We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and amid the whale-sedatives we ordered to help us endure the Green Bay Packers' losing streak is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives — and, this week, how to handle the desire to take a break from music.
When your first full-length album draws fans like ?uestlove of The Roots and Gilles Peterson from the BBC, you've probably hit on something special. That's just what Melbourne, Australia's Hiatus Kaiyote did with Tawk Tomahawk, a record that blends jazz and soul with warm vocals and fuzzy effects.
It's hard to keep your eyes off singer Nai Palm: She's a true original, as you can see in this live performance of "Nakamarra" as part of Hiatus Kaiyote's Morning Becomes Eclectic debut.