John Legend has a way of writing songs that create a sense of intimacy. The Grammy-winning soul singer recently performed at one of NPR's Tiny Desk Concerts. The performances are exactly what they sound like: just a musician in a cubicle with an audience that's really, really close — no frills, no fuss.
Working as a jazz musician in the 21st century is difficult enough, but hardly anybody tries to make a go of it with a big band anymore. Yet that's exactly what Ted Nash does on his latest album, Chakra.
Memphis' Stax Records was an international sensation, putting out hits like Sam and Dave's "Hold On, I'm Coming," "Green Onions" by Booker T. and the MGs and Otis Redding's "Try a Little Tenderness." But behind the music, Stax's story features racial harmony in a city with a troubled history. There are tragedies, lost opportunities and legal disputes, but also some of the most soulful music you'll ever hear.
At 34, John Legend has sold millions of records, won nine Grammys, collaborated with many of the biggest stars in music (Jay-Z, Kanye West, Alicia Keys, The Roots, et al), and achieved the kind of statesmanlike musical-ambassador status usually afforded to artists twice his age.
The growing Syrian diaspora streaming out of a country being torn apart includes one of its most popular singers: Omar Souleyman. The musician combines songs of love and desire with driving techno beats, performed on a synthesizer.
You've probably never seen or heard an instrument like this. The Hindustani slide guitar is the creation of Debashish Bhattacharya, whose creation pairs his first love — a Hawaiian lap steel guitar, a gift from his father when he was only 3 — and the sounds of India. You can see the similarities to a lap steel guitar, as Bhattacharya lays the guitar across his legs, sliding a metal bar to create the fluid, almost vocal melodies.
Originally published on Tue November 26, 2013 7:03 pm
To launch the partnership between NPR music and KCRW's Metropolis, Cut Copy drew a packed house to downtown New York for a dynamic set of new material from Free Your Mind, along with a few older gems to the delight of an adoring crowd at Le Poisson Rouge. The Aussie dance rockers showed their experience in the live arena, keeping spirits high and working the crowd until late.
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