Robert Ellis somehow finds wide-eyed wonder in heartbreak. His downbeat themes come up against sonically ambitious and lushly arranged sounds on his self-titled, fourth album, which plays with country and Americana music tradition, not to mention the legacy of '70s singer-songwriters.
So much about the band SHEL comes down to family. The group's name is an acronym for the four members — Sarah, Hannah, Eva and Liza Holbrook — who happen to be sisters. They grew up in Fort Collins, Colo. and were home-schooled by their mother, but it was their dad who really pushed his daughters to learn music and singing together.
Classical music fans know the names Mendelssohn and Schumann. Chances are, Felix and Robert leap to mind — but Felix's sister Fanny was also a composer, and so was Robert Schumann's wife Clara. Those are just two composers featured in Anna Beer's new book, Sounds and Sweet Airs: The Forgotten Women of Classical Music.
When you grow up on the prairies of Saskatchewan, you learn how to do a lot of things on your own. At least, that's how life went for Andy Shauf. So when it came time to record his new album, The Party, he decided to play almost all the instruments himself.
The ongoing controversy in North Carolina over access to bathrooms has increased the general public's awareness of issues facing transgender people. One thing you might not think about is voice: How does that essential tool of communication change with gender transition? It's something that has deep emotional and psychological resonance. It's also something that's playing out in a growing number of transgender choruses across the country.
As a young child growing up in South Africa, Gillian Power sang in school and church choirs.
In 1981, Vivien Goldman was a writer for the London music weekly Sounds and a sometime backup singer. In the shadows of Thatcher and the wake of The Sex Pistols, subcultures and dub cultures were mingling and merging in her Ladbroke Grove neighborhood; her neighbors included Joe Strummer and the reggae band Aswad.
The Estonians are serious about singing. The power of human voices practically propelled the small Baltic country to independence during the Soviet era. In the late 1980s, hundreds of thousands of Estonians routinely gathered to perform forbidden patriotic songs. The events energized the nation, leading to what was called the "Singing Revolution."
Saskatchewan singer-songwriter Andy Shauf is the kind of guy you'd find laying low at a party, maybe tucked into the corner of a room with a drink in his hand, keeping to himself but taking everything in. He's soft-spoken and reserved, more comfortable delivering the news than being a part of it (though "comfortable" may be too strong a word).