Margaret Bonds, who died in 1972, is perhaps near the top of the very short list of African-American female composers. Thanks to her partnerships with Langston Hughes and soprano Leontyne Price and others, she's remembered in some circles as an important figure in American composition. But, mostly, she's been forgotten.
"It's amazing that people don't know who she was, although she was quite well known in her time," says Louise Toppin, an opera singer and a voice professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Robyn Hitchcock turns 60 this weekend. The British singer and guitarist has traveled a long way to this point, beginning in the 1970s as the frontman of proto-punk group The Soft Boys and continuing through a solo career that has produced hundreds of songs. He's even appeared in a few films: Jonathan Demme showcased the singer in Storefront Hitchcock and gave him a cameo as a Russian operative in the 2004 verison of The Manchurian Candidate.
Last year, an unknown band called Rhye started posting exquisitely produced videos online. The clips were sexy — erotic even — and the music matched the images. The identities of the band members were a mystery, intentionally shielded from view.
He went to Moscow in 1958 for the first International Tchaikovsky Competition. When he sat down to play, Russians saw a tall, 23-year-old Texan, rail thin and tousle-haired, with great, gangly fingers that grew evocative and eloquent when he played the music of the true Russian masters — Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky, and Borodin.
Cliburn died Wednesday at his home in Fort Worth, Texas. He was 78.
Many music lovers know Juan de Marcos González as the man who teamed up with guitarist Ry Cooder to create Buena Vista Social Club. But González was busy celebrating the history of Cuban music long before Cooder arrived on the scene.
Concurrently with the Buena Vista project, González was recording an album with his own band, The Afro-Cuban All Stars. The orchestra now contains expatriate Cuban musicians, young and old alike, from around the world.
In 1970, brothers Gean and Tommie West, both reverends, started a gospel group together in Dallas. They called themselves The Relatives, pressed a few singles and amassed a good following.
By 1980, The Relatives had gone their separate ways, and for three decades that was that. But a few years ago, a Texas DJ and record collector who'd heard their music came knocking, and brought up the idea of a reunion. Now, they're releasing their first album of original work in 30 years, The Electric Word.
It begins with a heartbeat. Released in 1973, The Dark Side of the Moon was Pink Floyd's eighth studio album. It would become one of the best-selling albums of all time, and its iconic cover image still hangs in college dormitories everywhere.
It's Marches Madness! Throughout this month, we're posting some of our favorite marches — from the concert hall, opera stage and parade ground. Got one we should hear? Played any yourself? Let us know in the comments section.