The itinerant path of a touring musician is nothing new. Drummer Daniel Freedman has walked that walk with New York jazz groups, salsa units, forro bands and on international tours with Angelique Kidjo. He has also taken the road less travelled – by bus.
It's so rare for a new opera — let alone a new American opera — to be recorded even once. But few new operas have been so rapturously received as Jake Heggie's Dead Man Walking, which recounts the true story of a Catholic nun, Sister Helen Prejean, and the convicted rapist and double murderer Joseph De Rocher before he was executed by the state of Louisiana.
Originally published on Tue September 18, 2012 8:48 pm
Another week brings more surprises in our search for the albums everyone can love. According to our most recent poll, a third of you haven't heard the one record we've probably pimped more than any other on All Songs Considered: Bon Iver's For Emma, Forever Ago. Really? A third of you haven't even heard it?
Kin: Songs by Mary Karr & Rodney Crowell, released last month, is a collaboration between a best-selling author and a Grammy-winning singer-songwriter. Karr and Crowell sing songs about growing up in Texas in the '50s, material they've each grappled with in their own work. Karr's best-selling memoir The Liar's Club deals with themes of family, love and loss.
If there was any doubt that The dB's have any use for being considered through the haze of memory, or limited to the misty fondness from fans who remember them from the early 80s, the blast that opens their new album Falling Off the Sky, a song called "That Time Is Gone," could not be more explicit. Group leaders Peter Holsapple and Chris Stamey, along with drummer Will Rigby and bassist Gene Holder, are taking back their sound after 30 years, sprucing it up and re-exploding it for the days we live in now.
It's always an adventure to ask NPR Music's resident metalhead and "outer sound" maven, Lars Gotrich, for song recommendations. Sometimes, doing so can lead down a path of impossible listening — banshee wails over blast beats, recorded inside what appears to be a toilet tank — but it can also lead to awesome epiphanies like Darkest Era or Deafheaven.
Before Japandroids reached the popularity they've earned today, guitarist Brian King and drummer David Prowse had to endure some ups and downs. In the beginning, the duo gave up the search for a lead vocalist and third member, deciding instead to split vocal duties. This turn of events ended up affecting the band's dual but equal decision-making process — even the band's name is a hodgepodge of ideas from each member.
This summer, while athletes prepare for the Olympic Games in London, music lovers are getting ready for the "Olympics of Choral Music." Officially called the World Choir Games, this Herculean singing competition features hundreds of choirs from around the world. This year is the first time it will be held in the U.S. — in Cincinnati, starting Wednesday.
Catherine Roma, conductor of women's choir MUSE, says her philosophy is more about musical excellence than competition. After witnessing the 2010 Choral Olympics in China, she saw something that surprised her.