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The Musical Universe

 

The song "Strange Fruit" was written by a man named Abel Meeropol in the 1930s — but it will forever be associated with Billie Holiday. The lyrics vividly describe a lynching, and this haunting protest song is central to the new movie The United States Vs. Billie Holiday. The Grammy-nominated singer Andra Day plays the title character. The role is Day's acting debut, but she has already won a Golden Globe for her performance.

More than 500,000 people have died in the U.S. from COVID-19 since the pandemic hit this country and the world just over a year ago. NPR is remembering some of those who lost their lives by listening to the music they loved and hearing their stories. We're calling our tribute Songs Of Remembrance.


My mom, Paula Einbender, loved musicals and singing folk music. From family gatherings to long car rides, singing (despite our talents) was a part of it.

Neville O'Riley Livingston, the Jamaican vocalist better known as Bunny Wailer, died on March 2 at Medical Associates Hospital in Kingston, Jamaica, at age 73. A founding member of The Wailers alongside Bob Marley and Peter Tosh, Wailer went on to become a reggae icon in his own right. Wailer traveled and performed sporadically, each appearance a regal occasion befitting a seldom seen reggae monarch.

More than 500,000 people have died in the U.S. from COVID-19 since the pandemic hit this country and the world just over a year ago. NPR is remembering some of those who lost their lives by listening to the music they loved and hearing their stories. We're calling our tribute Songs Of Remembrance.


My father, Eugene Hurkin of Brooklyn, N.Y., died at the age of 95 from COVID-19.

Born in 1925, my dad loved big-band swing — the music of his youth. He was a joyous and social partygoer and never shy to find a partner with whom to dance the night away.

Copyright 2021 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

There's a composition by pianist Helen Sung titled "Into the Unknown," from her 2018 album, Sung With Words. A bright, bustling tune with a melody full of rhythmic feints, it captures the radiant spirit that Sung brings to any bandstand. And the song's title says something about her unconventional path to a life in modern jazz.

Thundercat is one of Los Angeles' most accomplished and in-demand musicians. A frequent collaborator with Flying Lotus, he's also contributed to albums by Erykah Badu, Kamasi Washington and Kendrick Lamar, the latter of whom won a Grammy with Thundercat in 2016 for the single "These Walls." Most recently Thundercat has come into his own as a solo artist. His fourth album, It Is What It Is, was released in April 2020 on Brainfeeder.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

The Tiny Desk is working from home for the foreseeable future. Introducing NPR Music's Tiny Desk (home) concerts, bringing you performances from across the country and the world. It's the same spirit — stripped-down sets, an intimate setting — just a different space.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Dr. Rochelle Walensky has been head of the CDC for just over a month. And for most of that time, she was looking at hopeful signs - a sharp drop in new coronavirus cases, more people getting vaccinated and a third vaccine coming on the market. Now, it's starting to look like a mixed picture. New cases and deaths are creeping up. Texas and Mississippi are dropping statewide mask requirements and fully reopening for business.

Mia Doi Todd is a singer-songwriter and L.A. native. Since 1997, Todd has released ten solo albums and appeared on countless recordings with other artists, including Saul Williams, The Folk Implosion, and David J of Bauhaus. She is also part of the creative team behind local venue Zebulon Café Concert in Frogtown. For the Lockdown Listening series, Todd spoke with KCRW about the pleasures of introspection, the healing powers of music and the perfect reggae tune for a trampoline.

The Tiny Desk is working from home for the foreseeable future. Introducing NPR Music's Tiny Desk (home) concerts, bringing you performances from across the country and the world. It's the same spirit — stripped-down sets, an intimate setting — just a different space.

Country music legend Dolly Parton got a taste of her own medicine on Tuesday when she received a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine whose research she helped fund.

Parton, 75, documented the moment in a video posted to social media in which she encouraged eligible viewers to get the shot and broke into a modified rendition of "Jolene" to that effect.

Dolly Parton wants people to get vaccinated. To that end, she re-imagined one of her greatest hits. Parton sang an adaptation of "Jolene" in a social media post before getting the Moderna shot.

Kat Edmonson started live-streaming a weekly variety show out of her living room during the pandemic – a surprising but necessary adjustment after the singer-songwriter's touring life was locked down, leaving Edmonson with little to no work. It was a blow at first, but she's come to really embrace the format.

In Myanmar, protesters have adopted the song — "Do You Hear The People Sing?" — from the musical Les Misérables, as a rallying cry against the military coup.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Neera Tanden has withdrawn her name as President Biden's nominee to head the Office of Management and Budget. Her nomination has been controversial, mostly because of disparaging comments she's made in the past about Republican lawmakers. White House correspondent Franco Ordoñez is with us now for more.

Hi, Franco.

FRANCO ORDOÑEZ, BYLINE: Hi, Ari.

SHAPIRO: What did the White House and Tanden say this evening?

Singer, songwriter and percussionist Bunny Wailer, an icon of reggae music, died in Kingston, Jamaica, on Tuesday morning. He was 73 years old. Wailer was a founding member of The Wailers, alongside Bob Marley and Peter Tosh.

His death was reported initially by Jamaica's Observer newspaper, which said that he had been unwell since enduring a second stroke in July 2020.

Ralph Peterson Jr., a drummer, bandleader, composer and educator whose lunging propulsion and volatile combustion were hallmarks of a jazz career spanning more than 40 years, died on Monday in North Dartmouth, Mass. The cause was complications from cancer, his manager, Laura Martinez, tells NPR Music; Peterson had been living with the disease for the last six years. He was 58.

More than 500,000 people have died in the U.S. from COVID-19 since the pandemic hit this country and the world just over a year ago. NPR is remembering some of those who lost their lives by listening to the music they loved and hearing their stories. We're calling our tribute Songs Of Remembrance.


Demetria was a teacher in Columbia, S.C., for elementary school students. And she was 28 years old.

My father loved Sam Cooke's "Bring It Home To Me." In the song, Cooke sings to a woman who he's in love with. When I hear the song, I think of my father's deep love for my mother and his children.

Jim Haefele, 65: 'The Irish Blessing'

Feb 28, 2021

More than 500,000 people have died in the U.S. from COVID-19 since the pandemic hit this country and the world just over a year ago. NPR is remembering some of those who lost their lives by listening to the music they loved and hearing their stories. We're calling our tribute Songs Of Remembrance.

Jack Ranney, 80: Edward Elgar's 'Nimrod'

Feb 28, 2021

More than 500,000 people have died in the U.S. from COVID-19 since the pandemic hit this country and the world just over a year ago. NPR is remembering some of those who lost their lives by listening to the music they loved and hearing their stories. We're calling our tribute Songs Of Remembrance.

More than 500,000 people have died in the U.S. from COVID-19 since the pandemic hit this country and the world just over a year ago. NPR is remembering some of those who lost their lives by listening to the music they loved and hearing their stories. We're calling our tribute Songs Of Remembrance.

More than 500,000 people have died in the U.S. from COVID-19 since the pandemic hit this country and the world just over a year ago. NPR is remembering some of those who lost their lives by listening to the music they loved and hearing their stories. We're calling our tribute Songs Of Remembrance.

More than 500,000 people have died in the U.S. from COVID-19 since the pandemic hit this country and the world just over a year ago. NPR is remembering some of those who lost their lives by listening to the music they loved and hearing their stories. We're calling our tribute Songs Of Remembrance.

NPR's Scott Simon speak with Eugenia Sweeney, the daughter of Jimmy Sweeney, who was an early unacknowledged influence on Elvis Presley. We also talk with music historian Christopher Kennedy.

Jason Holland, 47: Maroon 5's 'Memories'

Feb 27, 2021

More than 500,000 people have died in the U.S. from COVID-19 since the pandemic hit this country and the world just over a year ago. NPR is remembering some of those who lost their lives by listening to the music they loved and hearing their stories. We're calling our tribute Songs Of Remembrance.

More than 500,000 people have died in the U.S. from COVID-19 since the pandemic hit this country and the world just over a year ago. NPR is remembering some of those who lost their lives by listening to the music they loved and hearing their stories. We're calling our tribute Songs Of Remembrance.


Dad was a morning person and liked to have YouTube on in the mornings for music while he was relaxing, cooking breakfast, waking everyone else up by being noisy, etc.

More than 500,000 people have died in the U.S. from COVID-19 since the pandemic hit this country and the world just over a year ago. NPR is remembering some of those who lost their lives by listening to the music they loved and hearing their stories. We're calling our tribute Songs Of Remembrance.


Janet loved John Denver's music generally, but we all used to sing "Grandma's Feather Bed" with her as young children. She loved hearing all of us sing along to it. It always made her laugh and super happy.

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