When Kail Baxley was a kid growing up in Williston, S.C., James Brown used to challenge him to dance-offs. Baxley didn't win so much. He did better as an amateur boxer — his key to getting out of the small town and traveling to Europe and Africa.
Kacey Musgraves is something of an anomaly. A Texas native in her mid-20s, she fits most easily into the contemporary "country" category, but the work she co-writes with a variety of collaborators is really a throwback to an earlier era of singer-songwriters — as much influenced by rock and folk as by country.
The Keaton Henson who appears on the new album Birthdays is an avowed hermit with a profoundly broken heart. He also has one of the most beautiful voices I've heard. The 24 year-old singer from London, who says he rarely leaves his bedroom, bares his wrecked emotional remains in an arresting new video for the song "You."
This week on All Songs Considered, hosts Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton go on a haphazard musical journey across the globe to share their favorite new discoveries. Manchester's The 1975 start things off with the band's punchy song called "Sex." Then we head to Brooklyn for soul singer Charles Bradley, who keeps things heated with "You Put The Flame On It," a track from his upcoming album Victim Of Love.
Black Prairie makes its first appearance on Mountain Stage, recorded live on the campus of West Virginia University in Morgantown. An energetic string band of unexpected depth, Black Prairie features three members of The Decemberists.
The Scottish indie-rock band Frightened Rabbit has evolved considerably. First, it morphed from a solo project for singer-guitarist Scott Hutchison into a full-fledged band. Then, it made a transition from the skeletal sound of 2007's Singing the Greys toward the fuller, cleaner rock of Frightened Rabbit's ensuing albums, 2008's The Midnight Organ Fight and 2010's The Winter of Mixed Drinks.
Every year, an all-star assemblage of today's jazz musicians called the SFJAZZ Collective picks a different all-time-great jazz composer to feature. The band then applies its own arrangements to that composer's tunes.
Over the past year, Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep has been following the progress of singer-songwriter Neko Case as she works on a follow-up to her 2009 album Middle Cyclone. Inskeep spoke with Case last spring, right after an 18-day recording session in Tucson, Ariz. During that first installment, Case said she was struggling to get a feel for the songs she'd written.
Singer-songwriter Robert Earl Keen makes his 10th appearance on Mountain Stage, recorded live on the campus of West Virginia University in Morgantown. One of roots music's most beloved and enduring performers, Keen first gained notice for his holiday song "Merry Christmas From the Family." But it was the release of his album Picnic in 1997 that demonstrated his depth as a songwriter — and helped herald the coming of the Americana genre.