Singer Sarah Vaughan came up in the 1940s alongside bebop lions Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker, starting out in Earl Hines' big band. Hines had hired her as his singer and deputy pianist, while Gillespie praised her fine ear for chords as she grasped the arcane refinements of bebop harmony.
Less than two years ago, Laura Mvula was a receptionist honing her phone-answering skills at a music organization in Birmingham, England. Now, she's got a record deal and critical acclaim, and she's touring the U.S. with her debut album, Sing To The Moon.
Marques Toliver is an R&B singer, but his music is equally anchored around the violin, on which he is classically trained. He says he discovered the instrument on the first day of his fifth-grade music class — and in a way, the violin chose him.
This weekend at Carnegie Hall, a giant returns to the podium. James Levine will lead the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra for the first time in two years after a string of health challenges from shoulder injuries to spinal problems. He's considered by at least one critic to be the most influential American conductor since Leonard Bernstein. That critic is Anthony Tommasini, lead classical musical critic for the New York Times.
Ana Popovic's fiery technique on her Fender Telecaster has earned her an impressive nickname: "The Serbian Scorcher."
Popovic grew up playing the blues in Belgrade during the turbulent time of the fall of communism and the dissolution of Yugoslavia. Her furious fret work and singing brought her to the attention of blues fans, first in Europe and then the United States. She lives in Memphis today, and has just released her ninth album, Can You Stand the Heat.
In the seven years since her last album, Audra McDonald has kept busy. She spent several years in Hollywood, filming the television series Private Practice. She's gotten divorced and remarried, absorbed the shock of losing her father in a plane crash and watched her daughter, Zoe, grow up from a kindergartener to a middle-schooler.
Listen to Bobby McFerrin — onstage, warming up with his band — and it's like you're listening to an entire orchestra bubbling up through one man's body. He becomes a flute, a violin, a muted trumpet, a percussion instrument, a bird, you name it.