Tori Amos has been looking at a lot of artwork lately, and on a new album, she's found ways to turn the visual into the musical. Unrepentant Geraldines is a return to a familiar pop form for Amos, who has been crisscrossing the boundaries of style in recent years — as well as an artistic self-evaluation from a performer who turned 50 last year. She recently spoke with NPR's Rachel Martin about "standing by the creations" that make up her identity at midlife. Hear their conversation at the audio link.
When the hip-hop dual Atmosphere got their start back in the mid-'90s, mainstream rap was dominated by a harder, aggressive sound, think Dr. Dre or Notorious B-I-G. By contrast, with their spare production and tight, introspective lyrics, Atmosphere was something different.
Maybe it was the scrumptious barbecue, or the lovely people, but mostly it was the amazing music that brought Felix Contreras and me back to Austin, Texas. This time we're here for the Pachanga Latino Music Festival, which features an exciting lineup with some of our favorite newer artists and a couple of legends, too. It's a big enough festival to lose yourself in, but cozy enough to run into old friends — among them, our beloved Venezuelan musicians La Vida Bohème.
Music has defined Ben Harper's family for generations. His grandparents founded the Folk Music Center and Museum in Claremont, California. He spent a lot of time at the center growing up where strummed, sang and played the keyboard with regular visitors including Leonard Cohen and Taj Mahal.
The music of Canada's Timber Timbre is often strange and unsettling. The band, led by Taylor Kirk — a crooner with a deceptively sweet voice — makes spare, evenly paced songs that sound like late-night echoes from a swampy woods.
Dolly Parton has been thinking a lot about home lately — in fact, "Home" is the name of a track on her latest album, Blue Smoke, out May 13. Speaking with NPR's David Greene from a Nashville studio, Parton says her career has in many ways come full circle.
At the Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival in February, one couldn't help but notice the striking new grand piano on the main stage, emblazoned with the name SHADD. When the many accomplished pianists that weekend sat down to strike those keys, it was equally easy to spot their delight in the instrument.
That piano was the product of a trailblazer in his field. The Shadd in question is jazz drummer Warren Shadd, the first African-American piano manufacturer. That makes him the first large-scale commercial African-American instrument manufacturer, period.