Jimmy Scott died this week. The jazz balladeer died of natural causes at his home in Las Vegas. He was 88. His ethereal contralto influenced countless singers, men and women. But his career was a series of up, downs and finally, ups, as NPR's Mandalit del Barco explains.
Originally published on Sat June 14, 2014 11:59 am
Singer Jimmy Scott died of natural causes Thursday morning at his home in Las Vegas at age 88, according to his booking agent, Jean-Pierre Leduc.
Scott suffered from Kallmann's syndrome, a lifelong affliction that prevented his body from maturing through puberty. The condition slowed his growth, leaving his stature at 4 feet 11 inches until his late 30s. It also affected his vocal cords, giving him a high voice that was often misidentified as a woman's.
Originally published on Sat June 14, 2014 10:34 am
About two years ago, playwright David Henry Hwang turned down an offer to write a play about the brief life and suicide of Army Pvt. Danny Chen.
But an opera? He couldn't refuse.
"This is a story with big emotions, big primary colors in a way, and big plot events," says Hwang, who wrote the libretto for An American Soldier, a new hourlong opera commissioned by Washington National Opera.
American music festivals used to be mostly a summer thing, but in many ways they now frame the concert experience all year round. In these temporary hot spots for pleasure and cultural conversation, new artists emerge as sensations and established ones do special things with fans. Culture watchers note fashion trends and predict whose careers will rise and fall by observing what emerges from festivals' impromptu communities.
Apple may be set to end its use of the standard 3.5mm headphone connector — the mini plug — in favor of its proprietary connector, the Lightningport. If it was to do that, new iPhones, iPads and iPods wouldn't work with old headphones. It's had more than a few industry folks and Apple fanatics upset, to say the least.
Violinists were nodding their heads to a different beat this weekend, as Sir Mix-a-Lot and the Seattle Symphony presented what the rapper called "Orchestral Movements from the Hood Night." Their version of the hit "Baby Got Back" drew a large crowd of dancers to the stage.
Before 1909, American pop songs could be romantic and even coy about sex. But none were so explicit about adultery as "I Love My Wife — But Oh! You Kid!" about a married man named Jonesy and the young lass who catches his eye.
Today is June 3, a date marked by the song "Ode to Billie Joe." In 1967, it was a No. 1 hit for Bobbie Gentry, a singer-songwriter from Chickasaw County, Miss. For two weeks, Gentry was bigger than the Beatles, as her album bumped Sgt. Pepper off the top of the charts.
Pop stars are the ideal companions of their fans' daydreams, speaking their most romantic hopes and defiant declarations through the songs on the Top 40. Miranda Lambert, however, is the kind of friend who's not going to take anybody's bull. As country's most lauded million-selling artist, beloved by everyday listeners and critics alike, Lambert has crafted a body of work grounded in the realism of muscle, flesh and heart.
Apple announced Wednesday that it is acquiring Beats Electronics, agreeing to pay $3 billion for the audio equipment and subscription streaming music service founded by Dr. Dre and producer Jimmy Iovine.
Blue Note Records is the kind of record label that people like to call "storied" — so celebrated and impactful that no one narrative can capture its essence. From swing to bebop and hard bop, through fusion and the avant-garde, Blue Note has been telling the story of jazz in the grooves of its records since 1939 — and for its 75th anniversary, it's releasing remastered vinyl editions of some gems from its catalog. But the real legacy of the label is too big to capture on disc.
Outside the concert hall at Occidental College, in Los Angeles' Eagle Rock neighborhood, children are invited to test out the instruments the Santa Cecilia Orchestra will play later. Alexa Media Rodriguez, 8, says she and her family have never before been to an orchestra concert. She heard about the orchestra when some of the musicians visited her school.
"I brought my dad, my stepmom," she says, "my sister, my brother and my sister's cousin ..."
That's the thing about this orchestra, says conductor Sonia Marie De Leon De Vega: The children are bringing the parents.
Today marks 100 years since Sun Ra was born — or, as the musician might have put it, since he arrived on Earth. An influential jazz composer, keyboardist and bandleader, Sun Ra always insisted he was just visiting this planet.
Did a band from Los Angeles get ripped off by Led Zeppelin? That's the claim in a new lawsuit by representatives of the band Spirit, which played some dates with the British rock legends in their early days in America.
Macklemore posted an apology on his website late Monday. He said he picked out items that he could use to disguise himself so he could move freely around an event. "I wasn't attempting to mimic any culture, nor resemble one. A 'Jewish stereotype' never crossed my mind," his post reads.
Long before summer blockbuster films dazzled us with CGI-enhanced superheroes and villains, audiences got their dose of spectacle at the local opera house, where lavishly costumed singers have walked through monumental sets for centuries.
The Stradivarius violin gets its name from master craftsman Antonio Stradivari. When he died in 1737, his secrets died with him: No one has ever been able to duplicate the sound of the violins or violas he made.
His instruments have taken on a mythical quality. Today they fetch millions of dollars at auctions; Sotheby's will soon auction off a viola that it expects to sell for $45 million.