Originally published on Thu January 17, 2013 3:30 pm
Maybe it was an accident that Justin Timberlake's first single in six years hit the Internet less than an hour after the conclusion of the Golden Globes — the annual schmoozefest that features celebrities notoriously oiled up by an open bar, sharing what viewers are meant to think is a more than usually honest version of themselves.
This past year was a good one for Naxos Records. In fact, it's been a great quarter century for the company, which has grown from a budget-label punch line to a leading force in classical music recording.
Bob Dylan has made some puzzling moves in his celebrated career, but the compilation that his record label recently released may be as odd as anything he's ever put out.
The compilation, 50th Anniversary Collection, is a limited-edition, four-CD set that was only released in Europe. It seems to have been designed by the label to exploit a recent change in European copyright law.
Originally published on Fri January 11, 2013 8:56 am
Simon Rattle announced yesterday to the Berlin Philharmonic that he will be leaving his position there as artistic director and chief conductor in the summer of 2018. Said Rattle, "In 2018 I will have been with the orchestra for 16 years. Before this I was chief conductor in Birmingham for 18 years. In 2018 I will be nearly 64 years old. As a Liverpool boy, it is impossible not to think of the Beatles' question, 'Will you still need me ...
As a teaching assistant for UCLA's undergraduate course "Jazz in American Culture," I spend much of my time in a scene found on college campuses around the world. My professor, the seasoned jazz guitarist Charley Harrison, lectures eager students on the music's geniuses. In the evening, he directs the college big band through classic Swing Era repertoire and modern reinterpretations of it. Harrison and his colleagues also lead smaller ensembles that take 1960s hard bop as their aesthetic core.
Rapper Amkoullel had one of his songs banned by Mali's government, which controls the southern part of the country. It's even worse in the north, where militants linked to al-Qaida have outlawed virtually all music.
Amkoullel, a 33-year-old Malian rapper, sings about self-image, immigration and respect. He's among a new generation of young rappers in Mali, mixing traditional instruments with new themes. He has played all over the world, performing with Malian legends Salif Keita, Ali Farka Toure and Toumani Diabate.
Originally published on Fri January 4, 2013 10:25 am
In its annual December feature called "The Music They Made" commemorating artists who have died in the preceding year, the New York Times Magazine once again neglected to include a single classical musician.
I first heard Natalie Maines's version of "Mother," the Pink Floyd song, while sitting alone in my car on a particularly difficult Saturday morning. It was the day after Adam Lanza took his mother's guns into Sandy Hook elementary school and wreaked destruction, and like many people across America, I'd spent most of the previous day trying to grasp what had happened. I really mean grasp: like so many tragedies that don't involve me directly yet engross me as they unfold in raw, real time on the Web, this one quickly became a spectral burden that was difficult to shake.
2012 will go down as a year of orchestral turmoil in the U.S.: Strikes, lockouts and bankruptcies erupted time and again as once seemingly untouchable institutions struggled financially.
There's been particularly little seasonal cheer in Minnesota's orchestral community. Protests erupted after management at the Minnesota Orchestra and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra each locked out their musicians, after the musicians had rejected contracts that cut their salaries by tens of thousands of dollars and reduced the size of the orchestras.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer. The song "Strange Fruit" has been recorded by many musicians, but it belongs to Billie Holiday. She made it famous but she did not write it. The man who did did not have a big career as a songwriter but he did have an amazing life story, as NPR's Elizabeth Blair tells us.
ELIZABETH BLAIR, BYLINE: The man is Abel Meeropol and he really has two stories. They both begin at a public high school in the Bronx.
The question "what do readers want?" has hovered over any media business worth its advertising revenue for years, but in 2012, it took on more urgency. Any item worth its pixels this year was built for sharing, for posting on Twitter or in friends' Facebook newsfeeds and multiplexing from there. Sometimes these shareable pieces would dig deeply into a topic with a new perspective; more often they would play off already-existing biases, asserting them or proudly acting the contrarian.
Record shops have been closing across the country in recent years, victims of the digital music revolution. But the closing of Floyd's Record Shop in Ville Platte, La., is different. For 56 years, Floyd's hasn't just sold records, it has helped revitalize Cajun music. Floyd's is closing its doors for good on Christmas Eve.
Even in a city known for its eccentrics, Ernie K-Doe was in another dimension. The New Orleans musician always knew — and said, loudly — that he was special. And for one week in a life of wild ups and downs, he managed to pierce the national consciousness with a chart-topping hit: 1961's "Mother in Law."