There was a haze over Jake Bugg when he arrived at the Tiny Desk. He was expressionless and quiet. That all changed when he strummed fast and fierce on his acoustic guitar and began a flow of words reminiscent of Greenwich Village in the '60s, not modern Clifton in England's East Midlands, where he grew up.
Christylez Bacon attended the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, a prestigious high school in Washington, D.C. that also counts Dave Chappelle and Meshell Ndegeocello among its alumni. When it came time to write a final paper for his U.S. Government class, he wanted to craft something more reflective of his upbringing in the city's Southeast quadrant — an area hit hard by crime and drugs in the 1980s.
Ruben Studdard became a national superstar when he won "American Idol."
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: After 24 million votes, the winner of American Idol 2003 is Ruben Studdard.
(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)
MARTIN: Ten seasons of "Idol" have gone by since that win. But Ruben Studdard remains one of the show's biggest-selling stars. His new album is his sixth studio release. It's a collection of classic love songs with a few originals mixed in for good measure. It is called "Unconditional Love."
The Vieuxtemps Guarneri is a violin that is older than the United States of America — 273 years old, to be exact. It recently became the most expensive violin in the world, selling for an estimated $16 million. Its new owner anonymously donated the historic instrument to violinist Anne Akiko Meyers, on loan for the rest of her life.
The two vagabonds behind distorted doom unit Jucifer have been peddling their decimating decibels across the globe since 1993. Famed for their towering wall of amplifiers and incendiary live performances, guitarist and vocalist Gazelle Amber Valentine and her partner in music and in life, drummer Edgar Livengood, are always on the move. The married couple live in an RV with a scattering of dogs and musical equipment and transverse the country 24/7.
It's hard to convey the sound of two people in love, but Lowland Hum does that effortlessly. Daniel Levi Goans and Lauren Plank are now Daniel and Lauren Goans; they met a few years ago and spent much of their first married year on the road, singing together on small stages and at house concerts across the country. Daniel was a folksinger in North Carolina, while Lauren had aspirations to sing but mostly did it privately. She has a passion for making things with paper, and you'll see that in the little black book of lyrics she hands out at shows.
Jazz violinist Regina Carter grew up in Detroit, but as a child she spent summers in Alabama, where her paternal grandmother lived. Her grandfather died before she was born, and recently she began researching his side of the family. One revelation that sparked her interest: Her dad's dad had been a coal miner.