NPR Music & Concerts

Music features, reviews and "first listens" from NPR.  For WUNC's music programs,  Back Porch Music.

Growing up in South Carolina, soul singer Sharon Jones knew the from first time she sang in her church's Christmas play that she would be a musician.

"I was, like, maybe 8, 9 years old ... and I got to sing 'Silent Night,'" she tells Fresh Air host Terry Gross. Jones remembers audience members taking note of her performance. "Right then and there," she says, "I knew that I was going to be a singer. God had blessed me with a gift."

The Thistle & Shamrock: Clear Sounds

Jul 27, 2016

Enjoy the pure beauty of the unaccompanied voice, whether solo or layered, along with virtuoso solo instrumentalists on this episode of The Thistle & Shamrock.

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

Louisville, Ky., singer, songwriter and guitarist Joan Shelley crafts lovely, sun-washed folk songs that she performs with gentle intensity. Her voice has the ineffable quality of being at once familiar and entirely fresh.

Three of the four members of the Asheville band River Whyless met while attending Appalachian State University in nearby Boone, N.C., and their long-lived friendship shows in their band's music. The folk-pop band builds mountains out of sensitive harmony lines and adorns its open-road sound with Halli Anderson's yearning fiddle.

There was barely a cloud in the sky all weekend at the 2016 Newport Folk Festival this past weekend. But the uninterrupted stretch of three gloriously sunny days wasn't the only stroke of good fortune festivalgoers encountered. Each day at Fort Adams State Park in Newport, R.I., was filled with surprise guests and moments of serendipity.

It's been about a month since Amjad Sabri's voice was silenced. He was shot dead in his home city of Karachi by two men on a motorcycle, and his millions of fans are still in shock and anger.

Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats have had quite the year since they played the 2015 Newport Folk Festival last July.

Ryan Adams is well on his way to becoming a Newport Folk regular.

Paul Janeway regularly gives the kind of performance that compels you to pay attention. There's no denying that the man who once trained as a preacher in Alabama was meant to be fronting a soul band. During an early-afternoon set at the Newport Folk Festival, Janeway put St. Paul & the Broken Bones through its paces, storming the stage with electric presence and a thunderous voice that pays tribute to — but doesn't imitate — his idol, Otis Redding.

Even though Violent Femmes played the Newport Folk Festival midway through a bright summer afternoon, the rock band's new song "I Could Be Anything" made the sunny field feel like a packed pub, where beer has made everyone friends, and revelers bellow out drinking songs with arms thrown across shoulders.

The Thistle & Shamrock: Essential Celtic

Jul 22, 2016

Learn how to inject a Celtic core into your music library that reflects past and present, honors tradition and celebrates the spirit of innovation. The Thistle & Shamrock host Fiona Ritchie has some suggestions to enhance any personal music collection.

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

Listening to John Congleton can be scary. The imagery — of "blood between my legs," of loving another "like a lion loves its kill" — can be horrifying. But the songs Congleton sings (from his album Until The Horror Goes) touch on what it means to be human, and what it means to face the fact that we are flesh-and-blood "temporary custodians" in vessels that will inevitably return to the earth and decay.

We're Off To The Newport Folk Festival!

Jul 22, 2016

Pages