Music

Music in Exile is a recording project that collects songs and stories from people displaced by humanitarian crisis. Alex Ebsary, a member of the Music in Exile team, explains that its mandate is straightforward: "What we do is go around, either to refugee camps or to places that we know there will be refugees or internally displaced Iraqis, and try to find musicians," he says. "They can be anyone, from somebody who knows how to sing a few songs to professionals."

A year ago today, terrorists attacked six locations in Paris, killing 130 people. Most of them were shot during a rock concert at a venue called the Bataclan. The attacks led to heightened security throughout Europe, and they've also led to some changes in how rock bands tour.

The xx is back with new music, and it feels like this wonderfully languid band may have just received a shot of adrenaline.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify playlist at the bottom of the page.

How Shirley Collins Got Her Voice Back

Nov 5, 2016

In a surprising press release NBC announced Friday that Dave Chappelle will host Saturday Night Live on Nov. 12 with musical guest A Tribe Called Quest. This will be the first episode after the presidential election, and an SNL debut for both Chappelle and A Tribe Called Quest.

Joyce DiDonato is one of the most acclaimed opera singers of her generation; this year, she won the Grammy for Best Classical Vocal Solo. Her latest album, In War and Peace: Harmony Through Music, is a collection of baroque arias from the 17th and 18th centuries divided into two sections — one addressing war, the other, peace.

More than a year ago, the world first heard the official cast recording of the most successful Broadway musical in recent memory. The album would ultimately go double-platinum and top Billboard's rap chart, owing in part to fired-up fans hitting repeat, memorizing lyrics and absorbing the show's richly textured world.

In honor of the 50th anniversary of the CMA Awards, show producers worked a truly impressive number of performers into the Nov. 2 telecast, utilizing everything from moving medleys to photo montages and mentions of legends seated in the audience.

The Italian pianist and composer Ludovico Einaudi brought in a full band for a stunning live performance. He has a giant global following — and for good reason, as demonstrated by this rendition of his piece "Petricor."

SET LIST

  • "Petricor"

Photo: Larry Hirshowitz/KCRW. Watch Ludovico Einaudi's full Morning Becomes Eclectic set at KCRW.com.

When Maggie Rogers brought Pharrell to tears with her electro-pop earworm "Alaska" last summer, fans of the viral hit quickly scoured the web for more music from the young musician, but came up mostly empty handed.

Calling themselves "an accidental brass quartet," the members of The Westerlies, like the prevailing winds, blew east to New York from their hometown of Seattle, where they were childhood friends.

HBO's new Westworld series is only five episodes deep, but the sci-fi western has already established itself as a reliable source for musical easter eggs. Nearly every episode has featured a player piano in the background clinking out versions of popular rock songs. The slightly out-of-tune instrumentals end up sounding like something Scott Joplin might have played.

Jazz great Wynton Marsalis, a virtuoso trumpet player and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer, has written — wait for it — a violin concerto.

As the daughter of the late virtuoso violinist Roman Totenberg, I was intrigued and wanted to know more. So I spent an hour with Marsalis — and the violinist he wrote his concerto with and for. (More on that later.)

Grandaddy will release its first new album in more than a decade next year. It's called Last Place and is due out March 3 on Danger Mouse's 30th Century Records.

Do you believe in ghosts? The age-old question pops up this time of year when Halloween looms — the answer for opera composers seems to be a resounding "yes." Many of them, from Mozart to Corigliano, have given ghosts a few choice moments on stage. Operatic apparitions arrive suddenly in the middle of the night, crash dinner parties or do their ghostly duty simply by playing tricks on the minds of the living.

As Bon Iver's Justin Vernon prepped the release for his latest mind-bender, 22, A Million, he knew he didn't want to talk too much about the album or grant a lot of interviews. So he held a single press conference in Eau Claire, Wisc., on Sept. 2, just a few weeks after performing the entire album live at Vernon's own Eaux Claires Music & Arts Festival.

This intimate, completely unadorned cover of Lou Reed's "Perfect Day" will warm your heart. Andrew Bird and The National's Matt Berninger recorded the song together in Bird's living room; Bird provided the instrumentation, his trademark whistling and violin gracefully looping together, and Berninger reads the lyrics from a sheet of paper on the floor.

Run The Jewels has always been heavy as hell, a hip-hop duo that can hang with leather-clad metalheads as much as the club.

Drake has released three new songs. The Canadian rapper and singer debuted "Two Birds, One Stone," "Sneakin'" and "Fake Love" Sunday night on his Beats 1 radio program. The latter two tracks are out now via Spotify.

Thirty years ago this week, an unknown filmmaker walked into a club in Washington, D.C., with a videotape in his hand. It was one of those nights when anyone could screen their work ... but this was the first public screening of a short documentary that's gone on to become the very definition of a cult classic.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

What defines America? There's been a lot of talk about that this election season. Pianist Lara Downes has a musical answer in her upcoming album America Again. To be released Oct. 28, it's a smartly programmed, wide-ranging anthology of solo piano works by American composers past and present; male and female; straight and gay; rich and poor; white, black and Latino.

Phil Chess, co-founder of the iconic Chicago blues and rock 'n' roll label Chess Records, died Wednesday in Tucson, Ariz. He was 95.

Phil and his brother, Leonard Chess, emigrated to the U.S. from Poland in 1928. Chess Records biographer Nadine Cohodas told their story to NPR in 2000.

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