Music

Music

When Chuck Berry died last week, the music-loving world rose to acknowledge his status as, in Bob Dylan's words, the Shakespeare of rock and roll. The man was 90; people were ready. Jon Pareles, chief pop critic of The New York Times, and David Remnick, editor at The New Yorker, both immediately published lengthy obituaries. Musicians ranging from Bruce Springsteen to Questlove to Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones – Berry's famous protégé – rushed to pay tribute.

"There's nothing new under the sun / It's never what you do, but how it's done," Nas rapped on "No Idea's Original."

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Witch Prophet's Ayo Leilani clearly had healing intentions when she wrote "Listen." It's the official song of the #AnchorCampaign, which Canadian musician (and guest vocalist) Lucas Silveira started to spur conversation about mental health, self-harm and suicide.

"First time your name was used, it was beauty, and I knew."

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We stayed up late, damaged our ear sockets and gave into the ecstasy of live music at SXSW: Diet Cig, Lizzo, Moor Mother, Sleigh Bells, S U R V I V E, Anna Meredith, Weezer, The Revolution's Prince tribute — even Garth Brooks. Here are 50 photos from the festival shot by Adam Kissick, with a few by our own Bob Boilen.

There is metal between those strings. In a video for "Limonium," Brooklyn-based composer Kelly Moran interrupts the stretched piano wire with corkscrews, forking the paths of sound.

Nina Diaz and Y La Bamba's Luz Elena Mendoza have never played together, but after NPR Music paired them in the courtyard of St. David's Episcopal Church for a late evening performance, we're beginning to wonder why not.

Over nearly two decades, Ireland's Bell X1 has mastered melodic indie pop that is bright, thoughtful and gracefully rough around the edges. It's one of the most played bands on Irish radio, it's sold out shows at home and abroad and its members have established families with kids. But to make their latest record, the members of Bell X1 had to pretend they were scrappy teenagers again.

Another grueling and glorious SXSW has finally come to a close. Bob Boilen and Stephen Thompson, the last men on the All Songs Considered island, gathered at 2 a.m. to recap the sets they loved on the festival's closing day. On Stephen's recommendation (he's written about her before), Bob saw Los Angeles singer-songwriter Phoebe Bridgers in the Central Presbyterian Church.

The members of U2 are preparing a new tour to play some old songs — 30 years old, to be exact. Paul Hewson and David Evans, known to the world as Bono and The Edge, will be the first to tell you their band isn't normally fond of looking back.

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The South by Southwest music festival is well-established as a venue where up-and-coming artists get discovered. But it also offers a chance to hear from the music industry's icons — like veteran country star Garth Brooks, who delivered a keynote address at the Austin Convention Center during SXSW this week. Brooks kicked off his career in the 1980s, and he's still breaking records and selling out shows.

Chuck Berry, the legendary musician who was one of the founders of rock and roll, died Saturday night at age 90. Almost immediately, the tributes started rolling in from some of the most famous names in music.

A Moment Of Chuck Berry's Music

Mar 19, 2017

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We continue our remembrance of rock and roll legend Chuck Berry. He died on Saturday at the age of 90. And to talk more about his influence on American music, we turn now to music historian Chuck Granata. He joins us on the line. Good morning.

In an industry full of surprises, Drake premiered his new LP the old-fashioned way. In fact, the biggest surprise surrounding More Life — the studio album he's calling a "playlist" — is that it finally came out as predicted. After months of teasing fans with rumored tracklists, a string of potential singles and cryptic Instagram posts hinting at release dates that came and went, the 6 God debuted his seventh solo LP on OVO Sound Radio Saturday at 6:30 p.m. ET, and it appeared on streaming services at 8:30 p.m.

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Tameca Jones has become known as the "Queen of Austin Soul." She got her start more than a decade ago, when she decided to forgo her dream of going to law school in order to focus on raising her twins. At that point, music became both her creative outlet and a way to support her family — and since then, her soulful covers of rock songs have made her a beloved fixture of the music scene in Austin, Texas.

Jones says that, while she feels she's been welcomed into the city's musical community, establishing herself as a soul singer hasn't always been easy.

We're well past the halfway point of the music portion of South by Southwest, and things are starting to wind down in Austin. But the indefatigable All Songs Considered team (well, mostly Bob Boilen) is still raring to go. Bob, Robin Hilton, Stephen Thompson and Colorado Public Radio's Jessi Whitten convened on an Austin street corner Friday night to recap what they'd seen that day.

The 1970s was an incredibly diverse decade for recorded music: from hippie folk at the start to disco, punk, the rise of reggae and the very first stirrings of hip-hop. At the beginning of the decade, Frank Sinatra had a song on the charts for 122 weeks. There was soft rock, metal and country. Album sales and progressive radio were huge.

All this is true. That's why it is so fascinating to look at the songs that ended up at the very top of Billboard's pop chart for each year of the decade — they certainly don't always represent all the change that was going on.

For Big Thief, fragility and power come inextricably intertwined. Singer and guitarist Adrianne Lenker may let her songs sit and seethe for long stretches, but those slow builds only maximize the catharsis of the big, loud, high-volume bursts of force that follow.

The annual South by Southwest conference is in full swing in Austin, Texas, where thousands of musicians go in hopes of making the right connections for their big break. The number of bands from Latin America and from Latino communities has increased so much that organizers have created a mini-conference within the larger festival. It's called SXAmericas and Felix Contreras — the host of Alt-Latino, NPR Music's weekly podcast about Latino arts and culture — spoke with NPR's Audie Cornish about a trend he's spotted there.

L.A. Salami sings and fingerpicks his acoustic guitar like an old truck winding through windswept blue highways. The British artist's debut album Dancing With Bad Grammar was one of Bob Boilen's top 10 albums of last year, saying it was a "hidden gem in 2016."

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