Yesterday, pianist Sara Davis Buechner published on the New York Times website a brave and moving account of her experiences as a transgendered person. "As David Buechner, born in the northwest suburbs of Baltimore in 1959," she writes, "I became an internationally known concert pianist. But from the time I was a child, I understood that I was meant to be Sara."
Is there some kind of weird vocal vortex in Minnesota? The state turns out so many excellent choral groups — at the school, church and professional levels — that it can arguably be dubbed the choral center of the U.S.
The members of the male vocal ensemble called Cantus, who huddled around Bob Boilen's desk to sing for us, hail from that vortex — specifically Minneapolis-St. Paul.
Yo La Tengo wouldn't seem to be very rock 'n' roll, given that it's a very stable and long-lasting operation. Since 1991, the lineup has consisted of a married couple — drummer Georgia Hubley and guitarist Ira Kaplan, along with bassist James McNew — and all three play additional instruments as needed. Yo La Tengo has been with the same label, Matador, since 1993. But if the band lacks rock dramatics, I would argue that it knows as much about the modes and manners of rock 'n' roll as anyone who has ever played the music.
Singer-songwriter Angelique Kidjo was born in Benin, West Africa. Today, she lives in New York City and is widely considered Africa's greatest living diva.
For Kidjo, music provides an outlet for both activism and pleasure. "Those two things are part of my stability," she tells NPR's Michel Martin. "I need that. No human being has endless compassion, you need to replenish yourself, and I know that if I didn't have music, I'd go crazy."
Originally published on Mon February 4, 2013 12:38 pm
One of the Twitter hashtags devised by rabid Beyonce fans before last night's Super Bowl halftime show was religious in nature: #praisebeysus. Praise Beysus! This bit of hyperventilating resonated in interesting ways. Strutting into the very center of America's biggest television spectacle, the 31-year-old superstar intended to secure her place in the musical pantheon next to recent Super Bowl-approved legends Madonna, The Who, Bruce Springsteen and Prince.
Originally published on Sat February 16, 2013 7:09 pm
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This is just about the most surprising album in recent memory, and a complete joy. The singer for Roxy Music, Bryan Ferry has also enjoyed a long solo career, both as an interpreter of songs by others — Bob Dylan, The Beach Boys, Sam Cooke, Cole Porter, Lou Reed and many more — and as an extraordinary songwriter who's released 13 solo albums, each with its own strengths.