Originally published on Mon August 6, 2012 8:36 am
Michael Kiwanuka combines roots and soul with such old-school, retro-sounding verve, it's hard to believe he's still a rising star — let alone a 24-year-old. Kiwanuka is of Ugandan descent and grew up in Muswell Hill, London.
Originally published on Mon August 20, 2012 2:05 pm
Three-time Grammy award-winning singer-songwriter Shawn Colvin is a contemporary folk legend. Colvin started playing guitar at the age 10 and went on to cut her teeth on the folk circuits of Illinois and San Francisco before moving on to the Fast Folk cooperative of Greenwich Village in New York City. During her solo music career, Colvin has appeared in off-Broadway shows and episodes of television shows such as The Simpsons and Treme.
Originally published on Thu August 16, 2012 10:53 am
Chicago-based music journalist Catalina Maria Johnson curates this 14th installment of World Cafe's "Latin Roots" music series. The bilingual and bicultural journalist is of half-Swedish and half-Mexican descent, and grew up in two different cities with the name St. Louis — one in Missouri, and the other, in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. She writes in Spanish and English for publications such as HOY, RevistaContratiempo, Gozamos and Nat Geo Music.
Los Angeles-based Mariachi El Bronx started out as a punk band called The Bronx, but that was before its members discovered a collective love for Mexican folk music. The group fell hard for mariachi, and when faced with playing an acoustic punk rock set for a TV show, they decided to fully embrace that new direction and start a Mexican-flavored side project.
Bear in Heaven, the brainchild of Jon Philpot, spent the winter trimming down (from a quartet to a trio) and stocking up, releasing its third album I Love You, It's Cool this spring. To promote the record, Philpot posted it in its entirety on the band's website, but not before slowing the audio down 400,000 times. At its original tempo, Bear in Heaven's music is at once ambient and energized, resonating in synth-driven waves that swell and pulse through an electric sea.
Originally from Memphis but a resident of New York City for the past decade or so, singer-songwriter Megan Reilly has a fan in Sonic Youth's Steve Shelley, who helped her get her original record deal. Ever since, Reilly's country-inflected soft rock has evolved further into pop territory since her 2002 debut Arc of Tessa and 2006's Let Your Ghost Go.
Guitarist Jonny Ollsin (formerly of S.T.R.E.E.T.S.) and singer Kim Krans met in the Catskill Mountains in New York, where they continue to write and record in a hand-built log cabin. Together, they lead the Brooklyn ambient rock group Family Band, which sounds like anything but mountain music.
Sharon Van Etten's raspy, elegant vocals and deeply confessional folk-rock have made her a rising star. Ever since her official debut in 2009, the heart-breakingly intimate Because I Was In Love, Van Etten has been expanding her sound and adding grit to her delivery.
Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Norah Jones has been a star since the 2002 release of her debut album, Come Away With Me, which sold more than 10 million copies in the U.S. and won eight Grammys. Her success hasn't let up: Subsequent releases have all reached gold or platinum status.
Jones' fifth album, Little Broken Hearts, came out in May, and was recorded with producer Danger Mouse. Here, Jones sits down with World Cafe's David Dye to discuss her creative process.
Lucero — bright star in Spanish — has been creating quality punk-inflected country since the late '90s. Hailing from Memphis, frontman Ben Nichols gives the act a gruff Southern twang with both his voice and his guitar. Since the release of 2001's eponymous debut, Lucero has recorded five more studio albums and plays an impressive 200 shows a year in the U.S. and Canada.