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On Tuesday, the National Endowment for the Arts announced its newest class of National Heritage fellows: 10 artists, ensembles and cultural workers who represent the richness and breadth of America's traditional arts. They range from one of the pioneers of the Memphis sound of Southern soul to an Ojibwe birchbark canoe builder.


2020 marks the 50th anniversary of the first Pride march, in recognition of the Stonewall uprising of 1969. Since then, Pride has evolved: from that small commemoration to community gatherings in progressive enclaves like New York and San Francisco to corporate-sponsored parades and ticketed events across all 50 states; from a space where people on the margins created fragile alliances to a mainstream festivity.

Phoebe Bridgers is the first to admit that she's not reinventing herself on her new album. "There's nothing avant-garde about it," she says of Punisher, her second solo record and fourth major musical project in the last three years. Even so, there's a quiet, assertive power to Punisher.

Our Daily Breather was a daily series where we asked writers and artists to recommend one thing that's helped them get through the days of isolation during the coronavirus pandemic. The series concluded on June 13, 2020. Here, we've collected some of the stories about the creative hobbies and practices that artists have shared with us throughout the series.

First, a pandemic, then economic collapse and now there are mass demonstrations over police brutality and racism.

In times of upheaval like this, music can be an escape. Maybe a way to reflect or try to make sense of things. This is what led to a new series we're launching today. For the Morning Edition Song Project, we've been asking musicians to write and perform an original song for us.

Between the pandemic, the economic crisis and now protests, 2020 has already been a lot. Yo-Yo Ma has been coping, and trying to help the rest of us cope, with music. The cellist has been posting videos of himself playing what he calls "Songs of Comfort."

"I do believe that everything that we do," he says, "people in every profession — medical workers, the delivery people, the politicians — we all are there to serve. We only exist because someone has a need. I know that music fulfills that kind of need."

Our Daily Breather was a daily series where we asked writers and artists to recommend one thing that's helped them get through the days of isolation during the coronavirus pandemic. The series concluded on June 13, 2020. Many writers and artists suggested spending time with particular films, TV shows and books; here, we've collected some of their recommendations.

"Say their names," the signs read in the streets of America. In 2020, one reckoning shares an unstable boundary with another as protesters masked against the coronavirus expose a different kind of deep debilitation: the racism that permeates American history and the present day, resulting in sudden deaths now recorded and shared on social media, but always present within history, from the arrival of enslaved Africans on the Virginia Coast in 1619 onward.

Our Daily Breather is a series where we ask writers and artists to recommend one thing that's helping them get through the days of isolation during the coronavirus pandemic.

Who: Bootsy Collins
Where: Cincinnati, Ohio
Recommendation: Gratitude


During this quarantine, I've had the opportunity to complete work on a few important projects, including recording a funk version of Indiana University's "Fight Song."

Every working musician has a story to tell about the upending jolt of this spring, when the pandemic officially took hold. For pianist Brad Mehldau, that story begins with the interruption of his trio's European tour, and the cancelation of a planned trip back to New York.

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When John Prine died on April 7 due to complications from COVID-19, he didn't just leave behind a rich recorded legacy.

The shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic hit musicians hard, with concert halls and rehearsal spaces shuttered and silent. But a new music initiative from the Library of Congress embraces the constraints of COVID-19. The series is a collection of 10 videos of 10 different original compositions that will premiere online starting Monday, June 15. It's called the Boccaccio Project.

Our Daily Breather is a series where we ask writers and artists to recommend one thing that's helping them get through the days of isolation during the coronavirus pandemic.

Who: Emma Bowers
Where: Burlington, Vt.
Recommendation: Quilting

Face shields are critical gear for those on the front line of the ongoing coronavirus crisis. But like other pieces of PPE, they often still aren't available. But one volunteer group, using 3D printers at home, has made nearly 40,000 NIH-approved face shields for health care workers and first responders — from New Jersey to the Navajo Nation.

June 8, 2020, Washington, D.C. — NPR Music is thrilled to announce Tiny Desk Contest Top Shelf, a weekly live video stream listening party featuring this year's top Tiny Desk Contest entries hosted by Bob Boilen, Contest judges, and NPR Member station DJs. Tune into the series kicking off on Thursday June 11 and then every Thursday until July 30.

Our Daily Breather is a series where we ask writers and artists to recommend one thing that's helping them get through the days of isolation during the coronavirus pandemic.

Who: Margaret Glaspy

Where: Nashville, Tenn.

Recommendation: Teaching and learning

Even in the best of times, many look to live music as a crucial resource — a place to turn for comfort, community and relief from anxiety — and can scarcely imagine their lives without it. For the past few months, the coronavirus pandemic has closed down venues around the country, and it's hard to picture when gathering in nightclubs or amphitheaters will be deemed safe again.

Our Daily Breather is a series where we ask writers and artists to recommend one thing that's helping them get through the days of isolation during the coronavirus pandemic.

Who: Don Bryant

Where: Memphis, Tenn.

Recommendation: Picking up an instrument and playing your favorite songs

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Kimmel and Colbert, Bee and Fallon et al., pay attention: Elmo did not come to play.

Bright Eyes has shared "One and Done," the third single released in anticipation of the band's forthcoming new album, set for release sometime this year.

Our Daily Breather is a series where we ask writers and artists to recommend one thing that's helping them get through the days of isolation during the coronavirus pandemic.

Who: Rhiannon Giddens

Where: Limerick, Ireland

Recommendation: Making homemade pasta

The Tiny Desk is working from home for the foreseeable future. Introducing NPR Music's Tiny Desk (home) concerts, bringing you performances from across the country and the world. It's the same spirit — stripped-down sets, an intimate setting — just a different space.

Jimmy Cobb, whose subtle and steady drumming formed the pulse of some of jazz's most beloved recordings, died at his home in Manhattan on Sunday. He was 91.

The cause was lung cancer, says his wife, Eleana Tee Cobb.

Cobb was the last surviving member of what's often called Miles Davis' First Great Sextet. He held that title for almost three decades, serving as a conduit for many generations of jazz fans into the band that recorded the music's most iconic and enduring album, Kind of Blue.

Here is the story of how Moby got his second neck tattoo: In early September of 2019, on the eve of his 54th birthday, the electronic music producer born Richard Melville Hall was having lunch at the vegan restaurant in Los Angeles that he owns, Little Pine. When a pal asked Moby how he intended to celebrate, another responded with a quick quip before he could answer: "Get a tattoo."

Damien Jurado will admit he has a bit of an addictive personality. In the past two months while stuck at home in Washington state, he's channeled that energy into songwriting. Jurado says he's already written three distinctly different albums in isolation, and that's on top of What's New, Tomboy, the record he already had in the can and that just came out on May 1.

"I don't know what moderation is," he explains.

Rachel Portman has been scoring films since the 1980s, and in 1997 became the first woman ever to win an Oscar for best original score for her work on Douglas McGrath's Emma. Since then, Portman has scored dozens more films and TV shows, but is now stepping away from the screen with ask the river, her first album of music not written for a movie, TV show or stage production.

"There were hardly any female film composers," Portman says of winning an Oscar at that time.

Turning the Tables is NPR's ongoing multi-platform series dedicated to recentering the popular music canon on voices that have been marginalized, underappreciated, or hidden in plain sight. In 2020, we will publish an occasional series looking closely at the careers of significant women in music, treasured albums or significant scenes. Find all Turning the Tables content here.

In a world starved of roars of applause, hollers from excitable concertgoers and the warm, worn acoustics of venerated music venues, Margo Price has shared a relic of times gone by with her new live album, Perfectly Imperfect at The Ryman.

Our Daily Breather is a series where we ask writers and artists to recommend one thing that's helping them get through the days of isolation during the coronavirus pandemic.

Who: Kathy Valentine

Where: Austin, Texas

Recommendation: Making space

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