NPR Music & Concerts

Music features, reviews and "first listens" from NPR.  Find more music at WUNC's  Back Porch Music.

The Thistle & Shamrock: Brittany

May 11, 2018

Hear intoxicating melodies from the father of the pan-Celtic sound, Alan Stivell, along with Kornog, and The Celtic Fiddle Festival. This week we feature the musicians who have helped shape the contemporary Breton sound.

R&B singer Chris Brown, rapper Young Lo, and an unknown woman are being sued in a civil lawsuit by a woman who alleges that she was repeatedly raped at Brown's house in Los Angeles last year.

Gloria Allred — the prominent civil rights attorney who has also represented women who have accused President Trump, Bill Cosby and Roy Moore — filed the suit in Los Angeles County Superior Court yesterday on behalf of the anonymous woman, who is being called Jane Doe.

After a 14-year absence, Thomas Mapfumo and The Blacks Unlimited rocked until dawn at Glamis Arena, an open-air stadium packed with some 20,000 fans of three generations. Mapfumo — Mukanya to his fans, a reference to his totem, the baboon — moved his family out of the country in 2000, to escape turmoil and harassment under the regime of Robert Mugabe.

Wu Man is recognized as the world's greatest virtuoso on an instrument that is over 2000 years old: the Chinese pipa.

The Thistle & Shamrock: New Sounds

May 3, 2018

This week Fiona Ritchie handpicks new releases from the musical spring tide that has recently flooded the Thistle offices. Featured are exciting new sounds from "The Musical Nest," a hotbed of learning and creativity on the Islands of Uist in the Outer Hebrides.

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This past fall, when news of the Harvey Weinstein scandal was galvanizing the #MeToo movement, some of us who work in the performing arts had a peculiar experience: Colleagues started asking if they'd sexually harassed us. A few of these colleagues may have been attempting to head off allegations, but many of them genuinely didn't know if they'd crossed a line.

The Thistle & Shamrock: From Vinyl To MP3

Apr 25, 2018

Hear a handpicked classic collection of recordings with Fiona Ritchie this week. She presents a timeless hour of music spanning the decades, from vinyl masterpieces to pioneering MP3s with artists including Liz Carroll, Gordon Duncan and Alan Stivell.

Fifty years ago, Johnny Cash performed at Folsom State Prison in Folsom, Calif. The January 1968 concert and live album it produced, At Folsom Prison, helped revitalize Cash's career, inspiring him to testify for prison reform and cementing his reputation as a voice for the downtrodden.

The Thistle & Shamrock: The Road Of Tears

Apr 18, 2018

Although the scenes of immigration may change, the tragedies of displaced people are replayed with each passing year. Fiona Ritchie's selections this week include traditional broadsheet ballads and music hall choruses from artists like Dolores Keane, Mick Moloney, and Battlefield Band.

Since (at least) the release of good kid, m.A.A.d. city in 2012, the singularity of Kendrick Lamar has been plainly evident. But with the Pulitzer Prize in Music for 2018 being given to the Compton rapper for his 2017 album DAMN., his exceptionalism is now officially historic: It's the first time in the prize's history that it has been given to an artist outside of the classical or jazz community.

The Thistle & Shamrock: New Writing

Apr 12, 2018

Join Fiona Ritchie as she features a wealth of brand new music, including festival commissions and soundtracks. Artists include Gillian Frame, Michael Rooney and The Macalla Orchestra, John Doyle, John McCusker, and Mike McGoldrick.

Yvonne Staples, a member of the renowned soul, gospel and R&B group The Staple Singers, died Tuesday in Chicago at the age of 80, representatives for her sister and band mate Mavis Staples confirmed to NPR Music. No cause was given, and the Staples family has yet to issue a statement.

You're probably used to hearing artists who are eager to set their latest albums apart from their previous work speak of breaking free from formula, the idea being that they've grown dissatisfied with strictures imposed on their music-making. But not everyone shares that philosophy.

When Johnny Cash died almost 15 years ago, he left behind a treasure trove of unpublished poems and handwritten letters. The new album Johnny Cash: Forever Words, out now, immortalizes those words in music.

Memphis Blues

Apr 4, 2018

Reflecting on today's anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s murder, its 50th, pulls our minds toward images and sounds that surrounded that day in 1968: to the balcony of the Lorraine Motel; to Dr. King's speech in Memphis the day before his assassination. This anniversary has weighed on my mind more than usual, maybe because I've just recently arrived in Washington, D.C., where some of the worst rioting happened in his shooting's aftermath.

On this week's episode, we feature your favorite Celtic artists including Nightnoise, Ossian, Liz Carroll and Moving Hearts, as they create musical impressions and notions of springtime.

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