Music

Two deaths in early January, of percussionist Alvin Fielder and multi-instrumentalist/poet/dramaturge Joseph Jarman, help remind us that artists' lives shouldn't be summarized by their documented works alone. Both men made signature contributions to the freedoms and complications that have enriched what we know as jazz, starting more than 50 years ago as founding members of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM).

According to a report by Billboard magazine on Friday afternoon, R. Kelly has been dropped by RCA Records. The move comes in the wake of a documentary series called Surviving R. Kelly that aired on Lifetime and cataloged more than 25 years of accusations of sexual and physical abuse made against Kelly by a number of women, including seven who were interviewed on camera.

In the five years since her last music release, Sharon Van Etten has had her hands full: She became a mom, she took her first acting role in the Netflix series The OA, she wrote her first movie score, and she went back to school for psychology.

The title of her new album, Remind Me Tomorrow, is a nod to how busy she's been.

"There's a lot more of life pulling me in different directions," Van Etten says.

The song "GIRL," which arrived at all digital music platforms yesterday afternoon, is the first new solo music from Maren Morris since she released her 2016 major label debut Hero and its four singles.

Normally, the bookers of the Super Bowl halftime performance don't have a lot of trouble finding talent for the big show. Superstars like Bruce Springsteen, Prince, Beyoncé have all performed. But for this year's upcoming game, nailing down a halftime act hasn't been so easy.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Good morning. I'm David Greene with news you're going to hate me for because - welcome to the rest of your day.

(SOUNDBITE OF TOTO SONG, "AFRICA")

Russian authorities tolerated the music videos of zombie babushkas and gothic maidens, even as the ghoulish songs racked up millions of hits on YouTube. But when the Moscow-based electronic music duo IC3PEAK ventured into politics with their latest track, "Death No More," trouble began.

The globalization of pop music has been under way for a while now, with the sounds and sensibilities of K-pop, reggaeton and myriad other Latinx styles serving as major sources of fuel.

YouTube

Andrew Hozier-Byrne has a new album coming in March. His second album, called Wasteland, Baby!, is his first full-length record in four-and-a-half years.

The late Carol Channing's charisma and ebullience were so big that only a Broadway stage could contain her. In the two iconic roles she created — her breakout turn as Lorelei Lee in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and later, as the fast-talking matchmaker Dolly Gallagher Levi in Hello, Dolly — her crackling voice and blazing theatrical chops became legendary.

This story is part of American Anthem, a yearlong series on songs that rouse, unite, celebrate and call to action. Find more at NPR.org/Anthem.


Two years ago this week on the National Mall, amid a sea of pink hats, a piece of music suddenly went from speaking for one to speaking for many.

From soft-rock smash to karaoke staple to Internet bait, the shelf life of Toto's 1982 smash "Africa" has reached remarkable, unexpected lengths.

Perhaps it has finally reached its logical conclusion with one multimedia artist's new sound installation, which plays the 1982 smash on loop until the end of time deep in the, er, coastal Namib desert.

It appears to be required by law that every indie-rock band of the '90s must reunite at some point. So we might as well see the return of a great one, right?

Artists often seclude themselves from the world or change their scenery in order to create. Georgia-based band Deerhunter went out to the small, artsy town of Marfa, Tx. to craft the band's latest album, Why Hasn't Everything Already Disappeared?

In April 2017, it was marketed as the party of a lifetime. The Fyre Music Festival was billed as a two-weekend, immersive experience in paradise where festival goers would enjoy top musical acts, party with supermodels and stay in lux accommodations on a private island in The Bahamas once owned by Pablo Escobar.

Updated at 8:57 p.m. ET

To say that Mike Posner's career is unpredictable is an understatement. In 2010, his debut song, "Cooler Than Me," hit the charts worldwide, and to date has sold more than two million copies in the United States. But not long after the success of that hit, Posner's career stalled, so he decided to take that time to co-write with other artists like Justin Bieber, the producer Avicii and Maroon 5.

Conductors, like most music lovers, keep discovering music that is new to them. My own latest discovery is the Turangalîla-Symphonie, a mind-blowing 75-minute orchestral piece by Olivier Messiaen, written in the 1940s. It's a rare treat for me to be able to work on a piece from the middle of the 20th century that I have never even heard performed live.

Updated Jan. 14 at 4:02 p.m. ET

R. Kelly is no stranger to unsettling allegations.

The R&B superstar born Robert Kelly has ushered in the new year dogged by a slew of damaging headlines — in this case, prompted by TV's Surviving R. Kelly. But the roots of the broad case laid out by the six-part Lifetime docuseries, filled as it is with claims of abuse and statutory rape, date back about a quarter-century at least.

How do you play an instrument you never physically touch? Watch Carolina Eyck. She's the first to bring a theremin to the Tiny Desk. The early electronic instrument with the slithery sound was invented almost 100 years ago by Leon Theremin, a Soviet scientist with a penchant for espionage. It looks like a simple black metal box with a couple of protruding antennae, but to play the theremin like Eyck does, with her lyrical phrasing and precisely "fingered" articulation, takes a special kind of virtuosity.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Opera star Renée Fleming drew concern last year after a New York Times profile suggested the acclaimed soprano would be retiring. Luckily for fans, it turned out to be a false alarm.

James Blake is about to release his first album since 2016's The Colour in Anything, but the star singer and producer has kept a high profile in the intervening years. He's popped up all over the place, including in several collaborations with Kendrick Lamar, and released a single called "Don't Miss It" last summer.

Public pressure is mounting against R. Kelly in the wake of the Lifetime network's six-part TV docuseries Surviving R. Kelly, which premiered last week. On Wednesday, protesters gathered outside his Chicago studio — and, on Twitter, pop star Lady Gaga apologized for a collaboration with Kelly.

Christine and the Queens' music is seductive, sexy and full of desire, but also feels raw and vulnerable. Add to this a glimmer of Michael Jackson, Slim Shady, G-funk and an effortless attitude that is unmistakably French. On Morning Becomes Eclectic, Chris gave an incredible performance of "5 dollars" and talked openly about her journey as a woman and an artist.

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(SOUNDBITE OF JOHN WILLIAMS' "MAIN TITLE (THEME FROM 'JAWS')")

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

You know what that music means - sharks - but now so does this.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BABY SHARK")

Ace Of Cups Gets A First Chance At An Overdue Debut

Jan 9, 2019

Joel Selvin remembers the San Francisco music scene of the late 1960s as an especially fertile time for experimentation. "There was tremendous hunger and openness for musical influences," the music journalist and author says. "World Music, Indian music, rhythm and blues, jazz ... and that was all new in the world of popular music."

Doo doo doo doo doo doo! A delightful song (or grating, never-ending slog, if you're a parent of a young child) about a family of sharks scouring the seas for their next meal has made its way to the Billboard Hot 100.

The uber-viral "Baby Shark" charted at No. 32 for the week ending Jan. 12. It boasted 20.8 million streams last week, according to Nielsen Music, alongside its already gargantuan 2 billion-plus YouTube views.

Fifty years after the original Woodstock Music & Art Fair promised "three days of peace and music," one of its original organizers announced Wednesday that he is putting together Woodstock 50 for this summer. The event will be held over three days — Aug. 16-18 — on a 1,000-acre green space in Watkins Glen in upstate New York, near the Finger Lakes.

The mood at the Drama Book Shop on Tuesday morning was giddy relief. Faced with a big rent increase, the beloved New York City store — which has served the theater community for more than 100 years, and which won its own Tony honor in 2011 for its services to the theater world — was set to close later this month.

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