Mozart never made it to America: getting seasick crossing the English Channel put an end to any of his seafaring fantasies. But America was frequently on Mozart's mind. In fact, his closest collaborator, librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte, actually immigrated to these shores and became the first professor of Italian at Columbia University in New York.
Singer Cécile McLorin Salvant was born in Miami to French and Haitian parents, and started singing jazz while living in Paris. Back in the U.S., she won the Thelonious Monk vocal competition in 2010. The 23-year-old's first album, WomanChild, is now out — and few jazz debuts by singers or instrumentalists make this big a splash.
The violin, though centuries old, remains a popular yet remarkably unwieldy instrument. Just squeezing the contraption between your chin and shoulder, then raising your bow arm to the proper height, is enough to induce a pinched nerve. Yet every day countless numbers of people try to make the instrument sing.
Jennifer Lee, also known as TOKiMONSTA, has discovered her own sound within a niche genre: Her beat-making ability and spaced-out, experimental form of dance music has won her favor with L.A. production royalty Flying Lotus and the Brainfeeder camp. Recently, she and labelmate MNDR visited Morning Becomes Eclectic and played "Go With It" from her new album, Half Shadows.
Libyan presenters work at the studio of Radio Zone in Tripoli, Libya, in 2012. The radio station's owners hope to teach a new generation about democracy.
Credit Mahmud Turkia / AFP/Getty Images
Libyan technicians work at the studio of Radio Zone in 2012, in Tripoli. The station's presenters are not afraid to speak out against militias formed in the uprising against Gadhafi, and continue to challenge the post-revolutionary government.
Mitch Albom is famous for writing heartwarming best-sellers like Tuesdays With Morrie and The Five People You Meet in Heaven. As a member of The Rock Bottom Remainders, he plays keyboard and shows off his Elvis impression.
Credit Joseph Peduto / Courtesy of Coliloquy
Given the number of books sold by members of The Rock Bottom Remainders, it's not necessarily a slur to say that their writing gifts far outshine their musicality. Here, drummer Josh Kelly and guitarist Roger McGuinn (at center) join authors Amy Tan, Stephen King, Greg Iles and Dave Barry.
Credit Courtesy of Coliloquy
Hard Listening is divided into easily navigable chapter-like sections.