NPR Music & Concerts

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Charles Bradley, the "Screaming Eagle of Soul," whose late-blossoming career was built on fiery performances that evoked his idol, James Brown, died in Brooklyn on Saturday, Sept. 23, according to a statement by his publicist. In 2016, Bradley was diagnosed with stomach cancer, which spread to his liver. He was 68 yeas old.

Join host Fiona Ritchie and guests as they explore selections from the American Folklife Center's collection of about half a million sound recordings, including songs from Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan and Carrie Grover.

Anyone who has heard Jamila Woods' music knows she's an extraordinary artist. In our inaugural edition of Slingshot, you'll also learn what an extraordinary person she is, too.

Woods' lyrics depict a childhood spent growing up black on the south side of Chicago — emphasis on growing up. Her debut album, HEAVN, combines familiar playground double-dutch rhythms alongside references to Toni Morrison folk-tale collections. She is part poet and part professor.

In the age of SoundCloud rap, 19-year-old Demo Taped's rise from unknown Atlanta-bred music prodigy to 300 Entertainment signee isn't all that unusual. That he's ascended from hip-hop's bedrock city to the house that Lyor Cohen built while making something other than hip-hop? That's totally out of the ordinary.

In this episode, we remember Mícheál Ó Domhnaill, one of Ireland's most influential artists, with the music he recorded and produced over three decades. Host Fiona Ritchie features legendary Celtic music groups of which Domhnaill was a member — Skara Brae, The Bothy Band, Relativity and Nightnoise — along with other recordings featuring the guitarist, producer, composer and singer who contributed to over 100 albums.

The intrepid pianist Marc-André Hamelin has a reputation for embracing the toughest, strangest music. His new recording of For Bunita Marcus by Morton Feldman is a fine example. For nearly 75 minutes the music never rises above a whisper and the damper pedal is always pressed down, allowing single notes to ring out into vast, silent spaces.

Don't look for Walter Becker on those endless (ridiculous) listicles ranking the "Guitar Gods of the 1970s." He's rarely mentioned in the same breath as major dudes like Eric Clapton, or Jimmy Page, or Duane Allman, or Carlos Santana, or Billy Gibbons, or Frank Zappa.

Kendrick Scott opened his first set on Tuesday night, at the Jazz Standard in New York City, with a pensive new composition titled "Home." It had a bittersweet melody, a waft of dark harmony, and a beat defined both by chop and flow. "I'm just going to send this out as a meditation for everybody in Houston, Texas right now," said Scott, a drummer, as he introduced the tune.

"Introduce the melancholy / I've felt since last I saw you." — P.M. Dawn, "The Ways of the Wind"

The year was 1993 and Prince Be was everything rap was not supposed to be. While Snoop and Dre were indoctrinating Middle America in the chronic fundamentals of a "G Thang," the P.M. Dawn lead represented a much softer strain. He rhymed about unrequited love with a delicate lilt. He wore silky flowing garments and his dreads in an updo.

Tune into more of the great new sounds, from both sides of the Atlantic, that artists and their record labels are launching during the music festival season. We feature artists including Calan, Matt Tighe and Dougie MaLean.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Spotify and other streaming services have begun removing white supremacist content from their platforms, as websites and musicians alike scramble to distance themselves from the white nationalist movement.

In a statement on Wednesday, Spotify blamed the labels and distributors that supply music to its database but said "material that favors hatred or incites violence against race, religion, sexuality or the like is not tolerated by us. Spotify takes immediate action to remove any such material as soon as it has been brought to our attention."

Jo Walker-Meador, one of the most important behind-the-scenes advocates of country music, has died. Walker-Meador, who led the Country Music Association as its executive director from 1962 to 1991, died Tuesday night in Nashville at age 93 after suffering a stroke. Her death was announced by the Country Music Association and the Country Music Hall of Fame.

"If you came to this set looking to be cheered up, you're screwed," John Paul White deadpanned from the stage at Newport. The comment drew laughs from the assembled crowd, but there was a wry truth to it: Eerie harmonies and Kelli Jones' fiddle shrouded White's tender songs in a dark, mournful beauty.

"These are my sisters," said Natalie Closner, introducing the song "Wind" during Joseph's Saturday-afternoon set at the Newport Folk Festival. "This is about that."

It's often a sparse crowd that turns up to see an 11 a.m. set at a music festival — but not so at the Newport Folk Festival. When Julia Jacklin took the stage on Saturday morning, she seemed shocked to be faced with a tent full of attentive onlookers. (If it were any other festival, she pointed out, she'd probably be playing to an audience of four — and four hung-over people, at that.)

This week's show features music inspired by the rolling hills and moorland of the border country between Scotland and England, a landscape of forbidding beauty with a turbulent history of feuds, raids and conflict. Hear songs from Archie Fisher, Capercaillie, Kathryn Tickell and more.

Wilco, Live In Concert: Newport Folk 2017

Aug 9, 2017

At this stage, it feels like Wilco has headlined nearly every festival — including its own Solid Sound Festival. But the band's sunset Saturday Newport Folk Festival demonstrated why, year after year, Wilco gets top billing: Twenty years in, the Chicago band has staying power without sacrificing a sense of sonic exploration.

Kehlani Parrish's music isn't meant to be a secret.

"Folk festival" is a bit of a misnomer for the current form of the event where Bob Dylan shocked crowds by plugging in five decades ago; the Newport Folk Festival now warmly embraces talent that leans toward the louder, more electrified end of the folk-rock spectrum.

I heard more than one person at Newport marvel at the fact that Pinegrove had been booked for the smallest of the festival's three main stages. The day before its Newport set, the Montclair, N.J., band had played the main stage at the Panorama Music Festival, where headliner Frank Ocean would perform later that day. For a band that still practices in one member's parents' basement, Pinegrove has accumulated a huge, enthusiastic fan base over the year since it released its latest studio album, Cardinal.

Folk music is a genre commonly associated with protest, and the performers at Newport this year lived up to that expectation.

When Fleet Foxes took the stage to close out the first day at Newport, it had been eight years since the band's last performance at the festival. In 2009, the band was picking up steam after releasing its critically venerated self-titled debut, "White Winter Hymnal" was still fresh as new snow in our collective consciousness and then-drummer J.

There's an emblematic photograph of Herbie Hancock on the back cover of his album Sunlight, which he began recording 40 years ago this month. He's depicted against a red backdrop with a Sennheiser vocoder headset on his cranium, which is bowed in deep focus.

Sunday evening's final set at the Newport Folk Festival is frequently a triumphant, all-star affair — and John Prine's performance this year proved true to form.

The music distribution site Bandcamp will be donating 100 percent of its share of music sales Friday to the Transgender Law Center, a nonprofit based in Oakland, Calif.

For those looking to hear Americana from Oceania, Newport Folk's Quad Stage was the place to be during the second day of the festival. After Australia's Julia Jacklin kicked things off that morning, it was the 26-year-old Kiwi Marlon Williams' turn. Originally from a tiny New Zealand port town, Williams had just begun to write songs when he first heard Gram Parsons' GP and fell in love with country music.

Thirty years after becoming rap's first sex symbol, LL Cool J will be the first hip-hop artist to receive Kennedy Center Honors in its 40-year history.

The rapper-turned-actor born James Todd Smith will be inducted with a prestigious 2017 class — including pop stars Gloria Estefan, Lionel Richie, television icon Norman Lear and choreographer Carmen de Lavallade – on Sunday, Dec. 3 at the Kennedy Center Opera House in Washington, D.C.

The honorees will be saluted by performers while seated alongside President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump.

Tune into the great new sounds — from both sides of the Atlantic — that artists are launching during the summer music festival season.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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