Audie Cornish

Fifty years ago this August, Miles Davis assembled a group of musicians to record the sprawling, groundbreaking album Bitches Brew. With the sounds of Jimi Hendrix, Sly & the Family Stone and James Brown in his head, Davis plugged in and brought these electric rock sensibilities to jazz.

As young men, the sons of the Villalobos family in rural Veracruz, Mexico embarked on separate paths — at least, geographically. One by one, the three violin-playing brothers left their hometown of Xalapa to study classical music abroad. Ernesto, the oldest of the three, went to study at the Manhattan School of Music. Alberto, the middle brother, went to the Royal Conservatory of Brussels and finally Luis, the youngest, went to the Hochschule für Musik in Freiburg, Germany.

Since it dropped in April, Lil Nas X's "Old Town Road" has been an inescapable hit. The song's massive blow-up is at least partially thanks to TikTok: the social media platform that launches viral stars 15 seconds at a time, and what writer Alyssa Bereznak called the "future of the music industry" in a recent article for The Ringer.

Here's something to think about on this Fourth of July: If you are born in the United States, citizenship is a birthright, but if you immigrate to this country, the work of the citizenship process culminates in the reciting of an oath.

The U.S. citizenship oath consists of 140 words. Some of those are more contemporary, others more archaic. That's because the idea of the citizenship oath is almost as old as the Constitution itself.

In 2008, fire swept through a Universal Studios Hollywood backlot. The loss was thought to be a few movie sets and film duplicates. But earlier this week, The New York Times published a report revealing that the 2008 fire burned hundreds of thousands of master recordings of genre-spanning, legendary music from the late 1940s to the early '80s as well as digital formats and hard drives from the late '80s up through the early 2000s.

Facing the threat of a federal lawsuit, Alabama's Department of Corrections has unveiled a three-year plan to address its shortcomings and improve conditions for inmates and staff.

Since coming out as gay in 2014, Ty Herndon has changed all female pronouns in his song "What Mattered Most" to male pronouns.
Jeremy Ryan / Courtesy of the a

Some music is so ingrained in our collective minds that it's easy to forget how game-changing it was. In the late 1960s, a marriage of rock and folk took place and much of the popular music from that union was being made in a single place — Laurel Canyon, Los Angeles.

Vampire Weekend's last album, Modern Vampires of the City, helped vault it to festival headliner status, and topped year-end best-of lists when it was released. But that was six years ago — and a lot has happened in the time since. One of the main creative forces in the band, Rostam Batmanglij, left the group in early 2016.

Though Pete Seeger, the heralded folk singer, songwriter and social activist died in 2014, his voice has left a lasting impression on American music. May 3, 2019 would have been Seeger's 100th birthday and to mark the centennial, Smithsonian Folkways is set to release a six-CD collection titled Pete Seeger: The Smithsonian Folkways Collection.

Kanye West has been rapping about God from early in his career, hearkening back to one of his first hits, "Jesus Walks" off his debut album, 2004's The College Dropout.

During World War II, with thousands of men shipping off to war, half a dozen all-female, instrumental big bands toured around America. It was a rarity in a musical world dominated by men and, for the most part, their stories have been erased or minimized in jazz history.

Create and star in a blockbuster hip-hop musical, and you get to do pretty much anything you want. For Lin-Manuel Miranda, the playwright and composer behind Hamilton and In the Heights, that means starring in the sequel to a hallowed Disney classic.

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Andre Leon Talley is best known for his time as a fashion editor for Vogue and for what he wears on his 6'6" frame.

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1988 was a colossal year for hip-hop. Soon-to-be-classic albums from Public Enemy, N.W.A., Run-D.M.C, Boogie Down Productions and more solidified the artform birthed from the Bronx as a viable and music industry-funded endeavor. Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito Garcia, who host NPR's What's Good podcast, remember the hip-hop revolution circa 1988.

Forty years ago, horror fans were introduced to the masked killer Michael Myers, stalker of babysitters in a small Illinois town. The film was, of course, Halloween. And it was the debut of Jamie Lee Curtis, who played the bookish babysitter, Laurie Strode — the original "final girl" character who narrowly escapes the slaughter. Curtis appeared in three more sequels and even died in one. She thought she'd left that character behind.

Jarrett J. Krosoczka is a kids' book writer and he loves to make his readers laugh, in silly picture books like Naptastrophe and Punk Farm and his action-packed Lunch Lady graphic novel series featuring a crime-fighting, apron-wearing lunch lady who's always ready to do battle to protect her students.

Cardi B's Billboard No. 1 song "I Like It" samples Pete Rodriguez's 1967 boogaloo hit "I Like It Like That." Just as the song's chart-topping success is emblematic of hip-hop's current absorption of reggaeton, the 1967 hit capitalized on a moment in New York history created by Latin voices.

The phrase "identity politics" has come to be used as a political insult. It's now shorthand for pandering to voters according to demographics.

But political scientist Francis Fukuyama says that everyone is playing at identity politics now — that nationalism, radical Islam and other movements are fueled by people wrestling with identity in an economic world order that's letting them down.

The election of Donald Trump has ridden on the back of such identity issues, he says.

When you open the new novel Housegirl, you'll find a glossary on the first pages — dozens of words and phrases in Twi, a Ghanaian dialect. Author Michael Donkor was born in London to Ghanaian parents and the glossary hints at the push and pull between two worlds.

Take, for example, the term for second-hand clothes: "Oburoni wawu literally means 'the white man is dead,' " Donkor explains. "The idea is that when the white man dies, his family sends over his second-hand clothes to Africa, to be sold in the market."

There was a time when journalist April Ryan was just another face in the crowd of the White House press briefing room.

She started covering the White House for American Urban Radio Networks more than 20 years ago. In an interview with NPR, she looks back at how nervous she was the first time she raised her hand to ask a question.

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All right now, time for the big news of the day out of Idaho.

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Between the blockbuster tours of the biggest pop stars and the crush of music festivals, competition to capture the attention of music lovers is fierce. One festival has employed a controversial approach to ensuring that theirs is the hottest ticket of the year: Coachella. Documents show that live music presenter Goldenvoice demands that artists who want to play at Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, held in Palm Springs, Calif. every April, are not allowed to perform at any other festival for months preceding the big show.

A summer already full of high-profile hip-hop releases just got hotter. NPR Music's Ann Powers and Rodney Carmichael break down the surprise release of Jay-Z and Beyoncé's joint album, Everything Is Love, and explore how it sounds both on its own and compared to the competition.

As a child, author Minh Lê had a deep and loving relationship with his grandparents, but he also remembers a lot of "awkward silence."

"There were those moments where we just didn't know what to say to each other," he says.

Lê was born in the U.S. and grew up in Connecticut. His grandparents were from Vietnam. His new picture book — a collaboration with Caldecott Medalist Dan Santat — explores how a young boy and his Thai grandfather learn to bridge barriers of language, culture and age.

Black Thought has been a guiding force for The Roots since he co-founded the group with Questlove back in high school. The Philadelphia innovators have found success through many different avenues, and for almost a decade now have served as the house band for Jimmy Fallon's incarnations of Late Night and The Tonight Show.

Movie producer Harvey Weinstein will surrender to the New York Police Department on Friday in Lower Manhattan, a source familiar with the matter tells NPR's Rose Friedman.

He's expected to turn himself in around 8 a.m. to be arrested on charges of rape and sexual assault, reporter Benjamin Mueller of The New York Times told NPR's All Things Considered.

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