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Think "Folkways Records" and what springs to mind is, well, folk. Founded in 1948 by Moses Asch, the New York label was conceived primarily as an audio library of American traditional music, but it also released a great number of ethnomusicological field recordings from around the world. The packaging of Folkways' albums reinforced this documentarian aura: sturdy cardboard sleeves, a somewhat frumpy design palette of earth tones, murky greens and somber purples, deeply educational liner notes.

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.

For Jazzmeia Horn, this concert defined a moment. This was The Appel Room at Jazz at Lincoln Center, after all, one of the most prestigious stages in the America jazz circuit. "Not a lot of people get that opportunity," she reflected, not only to show up for herself and her art, but to act as a good steward of jazz music, an African American art form and legacy by which the idioms of today's industry, according to Horn, don't always reflect the culture of a specific people.

Twenty years ago, life was hard for a rock fan. On the radio, corporate pop and slick R&B reigned. Justin, Britney and Christina were rising, straight from Mickey Mouse Club finishing school, trained to give red carpet quotes to Carson Daly on TRL. Grunge had been reduced to a lifestyle concept, used to sell Smashing Pumpkins t-shirts and cheap flannels at Hot Topics in malls across America. Spin magazine had Mark McGrath and Matchbox 20 on the cover. Pitchfork barely existed, still just some online thing a dude from Chicago ran out of his bedroom.

One of country's most familiar artists has died. Charlie Daniels — a singer, songwriter, bandleader and player of many instruments — died Monday in Nashville. His death was confirmed by his publicist, Don Murry Grubbs, who said that he died of a hemorrhagic stroke. He was 83 years old.

Charlie Daniels was born Oct. 28, 1936 in Wilmington, North Carolina. He started out playing bluegrass locally with the Misty Mountain Boys before moving to Nashville in 1967. He was already becoming known as a songwriter as well; he co-wrote an Elvis Presley song, "It Hurts Me," in 1964.

The sister band HAIM is synonymous with the sound of Los Angeles — sunny, airy and wistful. After a two-month delay due to the coronavirus, sisters Este, Danielle and Alana finally get to share their third record, Women in Music Pt. III, with their fans. NPR's Scott Detrow spoke to the Haim sisters about creating a record that's a little less sun and a little bit more shade as they explore some of the darker challenges that each sister has faced lately. Listen in the audio player above.

On July 4, 1970, the countdown started. Originally hosted by Casey Kasem, American Top 40 played "the best selling and most-played songs from the Atlantic to the Pacific, from Canada to Mexico," as he stated on the first program broadcast 50 years ago as of tomorrow.

On any given week, American Top 40 could feature a ballad, next to a country song, next to a funk song, next to a rock song. The show became a national obsession but 50 years ago, it was considered a risky idea.

The British government will spend nearly $2 billion to help rescue the nation's theater, museum and arts sectors. Sunday's announcement came as more than 1,000 theaters remain shuttered across the country because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The iconic score to The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: This is the sound of the American West, at least filtered through the ears of an Italian — specifically, composer Ennio Morricone. He was a giant in the world of film scores who wrote the music for more than 500 movies.

Wynton Marsalis has always been deeply engaged in the subject of American race relations. The issue was a crucial part of his education as a young musician in New Orleans, and it has been a core preoccupation of his own work going as far back as Black Codes (From the Underground), a trailblazing album from 1985.

This week, Bob Dylan's first album of new music in eight years, Rough and Rowdy Ways, rose to No. 2 on the Billboard albums chart, making him the first ever artist to have a Top 40 album in every decade since the 1960s. But Bob Dylan is not alone in making vital new music well into what some might call his "retirement" years.

Updated at 9:45 a.m. on Friday, July 3.

Sufjan Stevens has announced a new album, The Ascension, out September 25.

We committed the unpardonable crime of being mavericks who were successful, and everybody hated us. It would've been fine if we'd been just hacks and made a lot of money, that's OK. Or to be really original and starve, that's OK. But it's not OK to do both, and they didn't forgive us.

Songs don't necessarily mean something different now than they did before this roller coaster of a year started clicking down its one-way track, but you'll forgive us if we act like they do. Perhaps it's just that our needs over the first six months of 2020 have been more intense, but the songs to which we've turned have met them. These rallying cries, these tiny vacations, these serotonin infusions, these distillations of pain and strength and comfort, confirm the power and flexibility of this form.

On Nov. 20, 1934, a brand new symphony brought a Carnegie Hall audience to its feet. The concert featured the Philadelphia Orchestra, led by its star conductor Leopold Stokowski. The music was the Negro Folk Symphony, by the 35-year-old African American composer William Dawson.

The country trio Dixie Chicks have changed the group's name to The Chicks in an apparent distancing from a name associated with the Confederate-era South.

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"Get ready for Oakland to meet New Orleans!" Fantastic Negrito, aka Xavier Dphrepaulezz, teased on Twitter.

In the last installment of Play It Forward, the series in which musicians give thanks for the artists who have inspired them, Ari Shapiro spoke with saxophonist Lakecia Benjamin.

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.

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