Music

Satellite radio giant SiriusXM is buying the Oakland, Calif.-based digital radio company Pandora in an all-stock deal valued at $3.5 billion, the companies announced Monday. The deal is expected to close in early 2019.

The merger would create "the world's largest audio entertainment company," SiriusXM CEO James Meyer said in a conference call. The deal would still need to be reviewed by antitrust regulators and shareholders, he added.

Two of the country's oldest and most venerated music institutions, the New York Philharmonic and the Metropolitan Opera, are beginning their seasons with a change in artistic leadership. Both organizations are grappling with 21st century issues of bringing new audiences in and convincing them that centuries-old music forms are central to their lives today.

A former factory in Brooklyn has come a long way from its industrial past. The building has been converted into a vibrant space where artists and musicians can hone their craft.

National Sawdust, a name that pays homage to its building's former function, is a nonprofit musical venue that spends nearly a quarter of its annual $4 million budget to commission new works, to record and release albums and to support young artists.

Despite being one of the first and oldest forms of popular music, opera sometimes struggles to connect with 21st century audiences. However, Anthony Roth Costanzo is breaking down the genre's stodgy stereotype and making opera more accessible — taking his distinctive sound to the masses, from a sixth-grade classroom in the Bronx to NPR's own Tiny Desk.

Marion "Suge" Knight faces 28 years in prison after pleading no contest to "running over a man and killing him in a restaurant parking lot three years ago," according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.

Knight, 53, is the co-founder of rap label Death Row Records. He agreed to a plea deal that includes "one count of voluntary manslaughter and admitted a special allegation that he used a deadly weapon, a truck," the DA's office said.

Before the agreement, Knight had been facing charges of murder and attempted murder.

After years of successfully operating as an independent entity, 14-member hip-hop boy band Brockhampton unveiled its major label debut, iridescence, late Thursday night.

What were you doing when you were 7 years old?

Updated 11:35 a.m. Sep. 20 with portions of a statement from Ticketmaster in response to the CBC and Toronto Star's reporting.

Kathy Mattea has been successfully making music for a long time. Her first gold album came out in 1987. She won her first Grammy in 1990. For a while, she was putting out albums every year or two. But Mattea's latest LP, Pretty Bird, out now, is the country artist's first release in six years — and it almost didn't come out at all.

On Tuesday evening, the Music Modernization Act (renamed the Orrin G. Hatch Music Modernization Act at the 23rd hour — in honor of the retiring Utah politician who also happens himself to own a platinum record), was passed unanimously in the Senate, as it was earlier this year by the House. In an age where political and artistic consensus is increasingly found only in cultural warrens populated by the like-minded, the bipartisan support of the bill is perhaps a small beacon of unity. (But still.)

The saxophonist Big Jay McNeely, a product of the thriving rhythm and blues scene in postwar Los Angeles, died on Sunday in California at the age of 91.

McNeely's honking saxophone and wild stage antics gave form to what would become rock and roll, directly influencing many of the genre's legends.

Doctors at the Charité hospital in Berlin say it's "highly plausible" Pyotr Verzilov of the Russian protest band Pussy Riot was poisoned last week, although it's unclear with what or by whom. Verzilov is currently being treated in Berlin.

"We have no indication — and this is important — that this was an infection or metabolic disease," the hospital's CEO, Dr. Karl Max Einhaeupl, told reporters at a news conference in Berlin. But "we cannot say anything about the question of how this toxin got into the body. It's not for us to answer this question."

The New York Philharmonic announced Sunday that it has taken action against two prominent musicians over unspecified "misconduct": the orchestra's principal oboist, Liang Wang, and its associate principal trumpeter, Matthew Muckey.

The orchestra said the decision came after a five-month internal investigation, led by a former federal judge. Both musicians dispute the Philharmonic's findings, and while the musicians' union reviews the orchestra's decision, the two have been placed on unpaid leave.

It might sound hard to believe, but being a Beatle doesn't necessarily assure chart-topping success — but never underestimate the pull of Paul McCartney.

Updated at 9:30 a.m. ET

A member of Russia's Pussy Riot protest group has been flown to Berlin for treatment after a suspected poisoning in Moscow.

Pyotr Verzilov, the group's unofficial spokesman, reportedly fell ill after a court hearing on Tuesday and was taken to a hospital in serious condition after experiencing hallucinations.

As the seasons change, the melancholy of losing summer deserves its own soundtrack. Atlanta crooner 6LACK (pronounced "black") — who dropped a sleeper hit of a debut album in 2016 with Free 6LACK and in the time since has toured the world with The Weeknd and become a first-time father — has returned with his sophomore album, East Atlanta Love Letter, for just such a time.

The Thistle And Shamrock: The Long View

Sep 14, 2018

If you've been listening to Thistle for some years, perhaps you'll remember two unforgettable extended medleys of tunes; one from Breton harper and multi-instrumentalist Alan Stivell and the other from Irish fiddler Kevin Burke. You'll be delighted to make their re-acquaintance this week.

Last month Mary Halsey of Rhode Island posted a Facebook video of herself doing a karaoke version of Missy Elliott's "Work It." It quickly went viral, accumulating millions of views and drawing attention from Elliott herself who praised the performance on Twitter and called Halsey her "funky white sister."

Pyotr Verzilov, a prominent member of the Russian art and activist collective Pussy Riot, is suspected to have been poisoned in Moscow on Tuesday, according to the group and local media.

It was Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit's night to shine at the annual Americana Honors and Awards show Wednesday night at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville.

Isbell and his band walked away with three of the night's biggest awards: Album of the Year for The Nashville Sound, Song of the Year for "If We Were Vampires," and Duo/Group of the Year.

John Prine was named Artist of the Year, while Tyler Childers won the always competitive Emerging Artist of the Year category.

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