Jennifer Lopez is a force to be reckoned with - a singer, a dancer, an actress, a businesswoman. She's a global superstar, who has topped the list of Forbes most powerful celebrities. And now, Lopez has released her 10th album, "A.K.A."
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FIRST LOVE SONG")
JENNIFER LOPEZ: (Singing) I wish you were my first love because if you were first, baby there wouldn't have been no second, third or fourth love.
The vibraphone is a special instrument. That spooky, smoky, sparkling sound — there's nothing like it. And there's nothing like hearing the vibes played by Bobby Hutcherson.
Hutcherson has covered a lot of ground on his instrument. In the 1950s he was already playing professional gigs, as a teenager. In the '60s, he was a leading light of jazz's avant garde, breaking new ground on some of the most revered LPs issued by Blue Note Records.
On a particularly muggy day this past week, Mali Music arrived at NPR's D.C. headquarters armed with only his enthusiasm (and a teensy entourage). Though the humid haze and some midday I-need-a-coffee-stat office funk hung all around him, he soldiered his way through.
Ab-Soul, the most philosophical member of the by now vaunted Top Dawg Entertainment, met Microphone Check hosts Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Frannie Kelley in Los Angeles two weeks before the release of his latest album, called These Days ... After only one listen to the album, the three of them had a conversation about Ab's high expectations of his audience and what he's trying to make for them.
Now we turn to a regular feature we call In Your Ear. That where we invite some of our guests to tell us about the songs that give them inspiration. Today, we're hearing from R&B sensation Miguel. He recently released a sexy music video for his single "Simplethings." That song will be on a new album that's set for release later this year. Miguel was with us a while back to talk about his breakout album, "Kaleidoscope Dream," which featured the Grammy-winning single "Adorn." And he told us then about the tracks he's been listening to.
The British singer Sam Smith broke through with a dance song: His is the voice snaking through "Latch," by the electronic-music duo Disclosure. It became an international club anthem.
In the U.K, he's mentioned in the same breath as superstars Adele or Florence and the Machine. He already has a sold-out U.S. tour, and he has performed on Saturday Night Live. Smith, 22, is now releasing his debut album, In the Lonely Hour. His songs of love and loss are powered by his moody, soulful voice.
Rodney Crowell performs with the ease and swagger of a man comfortable in his ways. He carries his songs the way he carries his old guitar: out in the open, no case, almost as an extension of his body.