Amy Grant released her first album in 1977, when she was a teenager. Apart from a few secular mainstream hits in the 1990s, most of her work is unabashedly spiritual, and her name has become synonymous with contemporary Christian pop music. It doesn't bother the singer; for her, music has always represented a sacred place.
LL Cool J has been making music for more than 25 years. Through it all, he says, he's tried his best to remain authentic.
"The last thing that I want to do is be a hack," says the rapper and actor, born James Todd Smith. "Someone who is adapting to whatever the current trend is, and manipulating the public into being on board with me even though, from an artistic standpoint, I'm not doing anything."
Conjure up a list of all-time great blues harmonica players, and high up on it you'll see the name James Cotton.
Cotton's music begins at the source: He was born in Tunica, Miss., and started playing harp at the age of 9, learning directly from Sonny Boy Williamson II. He eventually made his way to Chicago, where he played for a dozen years in Muddy Waters' band before he struck out on his own.
And this final note on the blues. Two years ago on this show, we profiled Gip's Place, a real juke joint nestled in a residential neighborhood in Bessemer, Alabama.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: It's not like going to a bar. It's not like going to a club. It's like going to your best friend's house and putting on just the newest record and sitting there and enjoying it together. Literally, there is truly a mix between the musicians and the audience.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Welcome again. Y'all ready to get started?
Yngwie Malmsteen is the king of the neoclassical shred guitar. Since 1984's Rising Force, the Swedish musician and composer has somehow bridged centuries, from Paganini to his own arpeggiated acrobatics.
"I've thought to myself often listening to some classical works: 'I think I want to make a couple million dollars and turn that into a pop song,'" Joshua Bell (right) says, laughing. "There's a lot of untapped potential there."
Together, violinist Joshua Bell and pianist Jeremy Denk make for one of the most dynamic duos in the classical music world. The two have been recording and performing together in the classical repertoire for almost a decade, and have become equally at home thumbing through the pages of the Great American Songbook.
At 81, music mogul and Columbia Records president Clive Davis has slowed down just enough to write his autobiography, The Soundtrack of My Life. The book, which describes how he's consistently made hit records, has itself become a bestseller.
Larry Keel & Natural Bridge return to Mountain Stage, recorded live in the border town of Bristol, Tenn./Va., in partnership with the Birthplace of Country Music. A native of Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains, Keel leads a band dedicated to taking fiery, authentic bluegrass around the world.
One of my favorite songs last year was a collaboration between a Sengalese drum collective and a German techno producer. The producer, Mark Ernestus traveled to the West African country to work with Jeri-Jeri, a group that plays a popular dance music called mbalax.