Music News

Music News
3:03 pm
Thu July 31, 2014

Making The Label Matter: A Record Company's Return From Obscurity

Originally published on Thu July 31, 2014 6:07 pm

Today, there's so much music being released that it can be hard to know what to check out, let alone buy. Mark Rye says that when he worked at a record label in the 1970s, the process was easier — in part because you could often guess what a record would sound like if you knew who released it.

"At that time, it was very much an identifier for the kind of music," he says. "So you would go into a record shop and you would look for what the new releases on certain labels were because those records were probably the kind of music that you would like."

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Deceptive Cadence
3:07 am
Thu July 31, 2014

On The Eve Of A Possible Lockout, Met Opera Talks Remain Contentious

A worker unveils posters Tuesday for the coming season of New York's Metropolitan Opera. The Met's fall schedule could be in jeopardy if failed labor negotiations result in a lockout Friday.
John Moore Getty Images

Originally published on Thu July 31, 2014 6:12 am

At the Metropolitan Opera, drama is usually onstage. But for the past several months, it's been in the newspapers.

Contract deadlines for 15 of the 16 unions at the Met in New York are set to expire at midnight tonight, and negotiations will likely go down to the wire. A lockout shutting down the world's largest opera house seems imminent.

Management wants concessions from the unions to offset dwindling ticket sales. Union employees think they're being asked to pay for unchecked spending.

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The Record
9:34 am
Tue July 29, 2014

East Nashville Rocks

Andrija Tokic in his East Nashville studio, The Bomb Shelter.
Joshua Shoemaker Courtesy of the artist

How do you know you are in East Nashville? Follow the beards, a current joker might say. If you do, you'll find yourself in an area tucked in between Nashville's neat downtown and the city's eastern edge, separated from each by the twisting Cumberland River. To the west, tourists flock to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Ryman Auditorium — the "Mother Church of Country Music." The Opryland complex — the venerable stage and radio show's comfortably suburban home since 1974 — is to the east, where the city sprawls into malls, hotels and tourists attractions.

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Deceptive Cadence
3:00 am
Mon July 28, 2014

The Great War At 100: Music Of Conflict And Remembrance

Austrian pianist Paul Wittgenstein (who later became an American citizen) lost an arm in World War I. He commissioned composers including Maurice Ravel to write pieces for the left hand alone.
Bettmann/CORBIS

Originally published on Mon July 28, 2014 12:37 pm

One hundred years ago today, the Austro-Hungarian Empire declared war on Serbia. The conflict drew in country after country and grew to an unprecedented scale. An estimated 9 million combatants lost their lives and more than 21 million were wounded in what came to be known as The Great War and, eventually, World War I.

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Deceptive Cadence
6:35 am
Sat July 26, 2014

War Of Words At Met Opera May Signal Shutdown

Bryn Terfel as Wotan in the Met's production of Wagner's Ring cycle, one of the productions that has been criticized by some as too costly.
Ken Howard Metropolitan Opera

Originally published on Sat July 26, 2014 11:32 am

When an opera company is in the midst of contentious labor negotiations, the results can be dramatic. This week, the war of words between unions and management at New York's Metropolitan Opera, the world's largest opera company, escalated. An Aug. 1 shut down now seems likely.

At the center of the debate is the ballooning Met budget, which stood at $200 million in 2006 but has since climbed to more than $325 million. Met General Manager Peter Gelb asserts that union salaries and benefits are his biggest costs, accounting for two-thirds of the operating budget.

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Music News
3:02 am
Fri July 25, 2014

'Purple Rain' Taught Me How To Be In A Band

"I never wanted to be your weekend lover": Prince and his Purple Rain costar Appolonia Kotero.
Warner Bros. Getty Images

Originally published on Sat July 26, 2014 8:54 am

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Deceptive Cadence
2:25 pm
Thu July 24, 2014

Labor Conflict May Lock Out Met Opera Workers

Metropolitan Opera General Manager Peter Gelb has warned union workers of a lockout if a contract deal isn't settled by July 31.
Astrid Stawiarz Getty Images

Originally published on Thu July 24, 2014 4:22 pm

The clock is ticking for the Metropolitan Opera in New York. The world's largest opera company may be headed for a shutdown. Most of the union contracts for the Met expire in a week. Yesterday, Met General Manager Peter Gelb sent a letter to the unions, warning them to prepare for a lockout if they don't come to terms.

For months now, the company and its unions have been at an impasse. Management has proposed cutting 16 percent of union members' compensation. Otherwise, Gelb contends, the company could go bankrupt in two to three years.

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The Record
6:52 am
Thu July 24, 2014

First Watch: Maddie & Tae, 'Girl In A Country Song'

Maddie Marlow and Tae Dye.
Republic Records

Originally published on Mon July 28, 2014 9:14 am

It's starting to seem like even the bros are tired of bro country. The truck-loving Florida Georgia Line has switched up its game with the chart- dominant "Dirt," a sensitive ballad about marriage and farming.

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The Record
3:42 pm
Wed July 23, 2014

A Rational Conversation: The Sound Of TDE's Success

Kendrick Lamar (right) onstage at the BET Hip Hop Awards 2013 in Atlanta with Ali, TDE's engineer and sometimes DJ.
Rick Diamond/BET Getty Images for BET

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Music
2:44 pm
Wed July 23, 2014

Finding The Anthropology In Latin Dance Music

Jorge Drexler's new album, Bailar en la Cueva, ventures into new territory for him: dance rhythms.
Thomas Canet Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed July 23, 2014 8:36 pm

Jorge Drexler's songs have been called introspective and literate. He's been compared to Paul Simon. But a couple years ago, the Uruguayan musician began to wonder what it would take to write dance-oriented music. That's the assignment he gave himself on his latest album, Bailar en la Cueva, or "dancing in the cave."

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Music News
2:14 pm
Tue July 22, 2014

Inside The Sun Records Sound, A Marvel Even Today

The 1954 Elvis Presley single "You're a Heartbreaker," recorded at one of the singer's early sessions at Sun Studio.
Michael Ochs Archives Getty Images

Originally published on Tue July 22, 2014 6:17 pm

For more conversations with music makers, check out NPR's Music Interviews.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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Music News
2:42 pm
Mon July 21, 2014

Teenage Songwriters Take On 'Bro-Country'

Maddie Marlow and Tae Dye, whose first single, "Girl In A Country Song," takes aim at one-dimensional representations of women in country music.
Kevin White Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Mon July 21, 2014 4:35 pm

No theme has dominated country radio playlists and charts more in the past couple of years than celebration of the sort of small-town good life that features trucks, beer and scantily clad women as the must-have accessories. The young country duo Maddie & Tae aren't fans of the third element in the "bro-country" trinity.

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All Songs Considered
5:03 am
Fri July 18, 2014

NPR Music Returns For 2014's Newport Folk Festival

Hurray For The Riff Raff performed at the 2013 Newport Folk Festival — and makes a return engagement this year.
Meagan Beauchemin NPR

Originally published on Fri July 18, 2014 9:39 am

The Newport Folk Festival has been around for more than half a century now — this is its 55th year, to be exact — and the event now routinely sells out months before its lineup is even announced. And why shouldn't it?

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The Record
12:05 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

For The Love Of Black Music

Jesse Boykins III had a rough slot at Essence Fest 2014: opening the first night on the main stage.
Erika Goldring Getty Images

Originally published on Sun November 16, 2014 1:53 pm

It still surprises me that a few of my colleagues who regularly attend music festivals like Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival and Budweiser Made in America still haven't heard of, or don't seem to know much about, the annual Essence Festival, held every July 4th weekend in New Orleans at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

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The Two-Way
6:13 am
Thu July 17, 2014

Blues Guitarist Johnny Winter Dies At 70

Legendary blues guitarist Johnny Winter, seen here performing in Valencia in 2008, has died at age 70.
Diego Tuson AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu July 17, 2014 9:08 am

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Code Switch
7:23 am
Mon July 14, 2014

How 'Ching Chong' Became The Go-To Slur For Mocking East Asians

An album cover for Lee S. Roberts and J. Will Callahan's 1917 song "Ching Chong."
The Library Of Congress

Originally published on Mon July 14, 2014 11:01 am

When Kwok-Ming Cheng went to a Whole Foods in New York City to pick up some pre-ordered sandwiches over the Fourth of July weekend, he wasn't expecting to get tapped with a new nickname.

"Are you Ching Chong?"

That's the question Cheng said he heard from a customer service representative at the grocery store.

It's a slur I and many other Asian-American folks have heard at some point in our lives. But every time I hear it, I can't help but wonder, "How is this thing still around? And where did it even come from?"

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Remembrances
9:04 am
Sun July 13, 2014

'Without Tommy, There's No Ramones'

Tommy Ramone, the original drummer for the Ramones, died Friday at the age of 65.
Ian Dickson Redferns/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon July 14, 2014 6:38 am

Punk rock music has lost one of its earliest pioneers.

Tommy Ramone died of cancer on Friday at his home in Queens, N.Y. He was the last surviving member of the original Ramones.

Tommy Ramone was Tamás Erdélyi before he became a "Ramone" and produced punk rock classics like "Rockaway Beach."

He was born in Budapest, where, as kid, he once had a memorable trip to see a movie about America.

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The Two-Way
6:56 am
Sat July 12, 2014

Tommy Ramone, Last Original Member Of The Ramones, Dies At 65

Tommy Ramone addresses the media after a rehearsal of the musical "Gabba Gabba Hey!" in Berlin in May 2005. Drummer Ramone died on Friday at age 65.
Arnd Wiegmann Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Sun July 13, 2014 9:49 am

Drummer Tommy Ramone, born Tamás Erdélyi, the last of the founding members of the seminal 1970s punk band The Ramones, has died. He was 65.

An announcement on the band's Facebook page said Ramone died on Friday at his home in Ridgewood, Queens, New York. Ramone had been in hospice care for bile duct cancer, NPR has confirmed with Peter Erdelyi, Tommy's brother.

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Remembrances
3:38 pm
Fri July 11, 2014

Remembering Jazz Legend Charlie Haden, Who Crafted His Voice In Bass

Originally published on Fri July 11, 2014 7:39 pm

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Deceptive Cadence
6:03 am
Fri July 11, 2014

A Voice Of Velvet And Bronze: Carlo Bergonzi At 90

Tenor Carlo Bergonzi as Radames in Verdi's Aida in 1956, the year of his Metropolitan Opera debut.
Metropolitan Opera Archives

Carlo Bergonzi endures. Not only is the Italian tenor approaching his 90th birthday (on July 13) but for decades he sang with tireless warmth and precision, representing a certain old school approach to carefully cultivating one's vocal resources.

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Music News
3:25 pm
Wed July 9, 2014

Dublin Has Garth's Heart, But Not His Concerts Anymore

Originally published on Wed July 9, 2014 8:39 pm

Garth Brooks fans abound in Ireland, and now 400,000 of them won't get to the chance to see him perform. Brooks has cancelled five concerts after the Dublin City Council refused to grant him more than three. Melissa Block speaks to Rachel Flaherty of The Irish Times about the controversy.

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Music News
3:19 pm
Wed July 9, 2014

Clash In Nashville: A Property Battle On Music Row Draws A Crowd

Inside RCA Studio A, whose sale has sparked a wave of backlash from the Nashville music community, Ben Folds (right, on staircase) addresses press and supporters.
Stephen Jerkins

Originally published on Thu July 10, 2014 9:27 am

News that a Nashville developer is paying $4.4 million for a half-century-old recording studio has sparked a battle in Music City. On one side is singer-songwriter Ben Folds, inspired by the musical history made in that studio. On the other, a trailblazing musician who made that history.

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Music Articles
1:36 am
Tue July 8, 2014

A Reluctant Star, Sia Deals With Fame On Her Own Terms

After becoming the kind of star she never wanted to be, Australian pop singer Sia is refusing to show her face.
PRETTYPUKE Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue July 8, 2014 7:51 am

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Music Articles
1:46 pm
Mon July 7, 2014

Billy Eckstine: A Crooner Who Crossed Barriers

Mobbed by teenage girls wherever he went, Billy Eckstine at one time rivaled Frank Sinatra's popularity.
Hulton Archive Getty Images

Originally published on Mon July 7, 2014 5:56 pm

Billy Eckstine was smooth as silk. He was tall and handsome, sported a pencil-thin mustache and sang in a distinctive baritone.

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Music News
5:55 am
Sun July 6, 2014

The Kentucky Sisters And Old-Time Tunes As Doorways To History

The Kentucky Sisters.
Jason Rhein Elephant Quilty Productions

Originally published on Sun July 6, 2014 12:46 pm

Did you know that John F. Kennedy was a Republican? Neither did I. But that's what one of my college students guessed in a course on news writing. I asked another kid what period followed the Industrial Age and she said, "The Golden Age?" We moved on.

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Music News
3:16 am
Sun July 6, 2014

Even Broadway Has Its B-Sides: The Lost Songs Of Sheldon Harnick

Acclaimed songwriter Sheldon Harnick turned 90 in April.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Sun July 6, 2014 10:50 am

Sheldon Harnick has been a working lyricist for over 60 years. He shared a Pulitzer Prize for his work on the musical Fiorello! and a Tony Award for Fiddler On The Roof. But he says a career in the theater means writing some songs that, for whatever reason, don't make the show.

"Sometimes, the song was changed because a scene was changed and it no longer accommodated the song," Harnick says. "So, sometimes there had to be a new song."

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Music News
3:15 am
Sun July 6, 2014

To Sign Or Not To Sign: Artists Big And Small Face The Label Question

Philadelphia punk trio Cayetana (left to right: Allegra Anka, Kelly Olsen, Augusta Koch) will release its debut on the small indie label Tiny Engines later this year.
Mary Ferrigno Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Thu July 31, 2014 5:51 am

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Music News
12:00 pm
Sat July 5, 2014

STATE OF THE ARTS: The Hard Road Trio

The Hard Road Trio’s Steve Smith and Chris Sanders talk about their upcoming local performances and music projects.

Information:
www.hardroadtrio.com 

NPR Story
3:05 am
Fri July 4, 2014

20th Essence Music Festival Opens In New Orleans

Originally published on Fri July 4, 2014 5:52 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

OK. I'm fine with that theme you just heard. It begins this segment every morning. But this morning, how about this?

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ALL NIGHT LONG")

LIONEL RICHIE: (Singing) All night long, all night, all night long.

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Deceptive Cadence
9:53 am
Thu July 3, 2014

After 36 Years, A Trumpeter Sounds His Last Note In New York

New York Philharmonic principal trumpeter Philip Smith plays at New York's Park Avenue Armory in a performance in June 2012.
Chris Lee Courtesy of the New York Philharmonic

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