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The Musical Universe

 

Our Daily Breather is a series where we ask writers and artists to recommend one thing that's helping them get through the days of isolation during the coronavirus pandemic.

Who: Channy Leaneagh

Where: Minneapolis, Minn.

Recommendation: Doing the next right thing

I woke up to birdsong this morning. That might seem idyllic, but it is odd. Flocks of sparrows regularly fight over snack debris near the bodega on my corner in Ridgewood, Queens, but I usually wake up to car horns or chatter on the street outside my window.

The Lumineers showed up at the Tiny Desk with family, friends and crew who travel with the tight-knit touring band. One special guest in particular was Lenny, the toddler son of lead singer Wes Schultz. As soon as Bob Boilen met Lenny, Bob searched for every toy he could find on the shelves behind his desk to entertain the restless tyke.

Your Anti-Anxiety Playlist

17 hours ago

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

And finally today, another selection from our anti-anxiety playlist. That's where you share the songs that help you stay calm during these stressful times. And we play some of them here. You've been sending us lots of great suggestions, and every week, it's hard to choose which ones to highlight. But today's choice is easy. It's from Twitter user @leahsamuel (ph), and we love it because who does not want to get up and dance when they hear Earth, Wind & Fire?

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SING A SONG")

Wu Fei and Abigail Washburn, who released a self-titled debut album as a duo on Friday, have lived almost parallel lives. Both women were born in 1977, and both grew up to be accomplished and virtuosic folk musicians, albeit in completely different folk traditions. Wu is a composer and a world-renowned virtuoso on the guzheng, a 2500-year-old string instrument which is a staple of Chinese folk music. Meanwhile, Washburn is a banjo player who has won a Grammy Award for her reinterpretations of traditional Appalachian music.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Kandace Springs' third record is a source of familiarity in uncertain times. Titled The Women Who Raised me, it's full of beloved and recognizable songs associated with jazz artists who inspired and influenced Springs as an artist: Nina Simone, Billie Holiday, Lauryn Hill and Norah Jones, among many others. But the album is not only a tribute to some of those legends, it's also a showcase of Springs' talent for reinterpreting and seamlessly blending genres.

Spring semester was off to a pretty normal start at Rolling Meadows High School. The school, in a northwest suburb of Chicago, was gearing up for the goodbye rituals of every spring semester: senior prom, end-of-year exams and graduation.

Caitlyn Walsh, the school's music teacher, was looking forward to the big choir concert and the spring musical. "From the fine arts scene we have a lot of end-of-year activities that are very cherished," she says.

Stephen Bruner, better known as Thundercat, is one of the music industry's most eclectic and prolific collaborators. Over the past five years, the virtuosic bass player has worked with everyone from Snoop Dogg and Kendrick Lamar to Michael McDonald. His latest album, It Is What It Is, was released on Friday and it features the same expansive range of genres and styles.

"And, I'll paint your pretty picture with a song" — Bill Withers

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.


"Hello, this is Ben Gibbard, welcome to Tiny Desk, Seattle style."

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Comedian Dana Jay Bein never thought a little ditty that popped into his head after a cough and a throat tickle would catch on.

Bein, a native of western Massachusetts and longtime stand-up comedy instructor at ImprovBoston, says he was sitting on his sofa when he thought up the lyrics to what became "Coronavirus Rhapsody," a riff off the Queen hit, "Bohemian Rhapsody."

Nothing in the world is more serious right now than social distancing.

Copyright 2020 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Copyright 2020 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. Today, we're going to remember three people from the music world who died this week of the coronavirus.

Copyright 2020 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

Bill Withers, the sweet-voiced baritone behind such classic songs as "Ain't No Sunshine," "Lean on Me" and "Use Me" has died. Withers was 81 years old. According to a family statement given to the Associated Press, he died Monday in Los Angeles due to heart complications.

YouTube

If there is any pop star that is perfectly suited to our current moment — someone who works in isolation, rarely appears in large public spaces and communicates mostly through occasion

Our Daily Breather is a series where we ask writers and artists to recommend one thing that's helping them get through the days of isolation during the coronavirus pandemic.

Who: Roberta Flack

Where: New York, N.Y.

Recommendation: Reading Ranier Maria Rilke

Jesca Hoop last appeared at the Tiny Desk as a duet with Sam Beam (Iron & Wine) in the spring of 2016. They sang songs from their collaborative record Love Letters For Fire. This time around, Jesca Hoop came to the Tiny Desk with just her guitars, her lovely voice, and brilliant poetic songs. She has a magical way with words, and she opened her set with "Pegasi," a beautiful song about the wild ride that is love, from her 2017 album Memories Are Now.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Cristina Monet Zilkha, the singer and arts critic who died on Wednesday at the age of 61, was a missing link in pop music history. Her death was announced in a post from Michel Esteban, the co-founder of her longtime label, ZE.

Bucky Pizzarelli, a tasteful sage of jazz guitar who spent the first phase of his career as a prolific session player and the last phase as a celebrated patriarch, died on Wednesday in Saddle River, N.J. Guitarist and singer John Pizzarelli, his oldest son and regular musical partner, said the cause was the coronavirus. He was 94.

When the subject of jazz comes up, the name Marsalis is soon sure to follow. Brothers Branford, Wynton, Delfeayo and Jason have all reached international fame. But before they found success, their father Ellis was shaping his own career and lighting the way for others to follow.

Since new release season is rolling on while the Nashville music community and the rest of us remain holed up at home, here's another round-up of music that shouldn't be missed.


When the Tiny Desk Contest team is looking through entry videos, we're often impressed by where artists take us. This year, for example, we've already seen a brass band performing in a forest (using a redwood stump as a desk), a small orchestra stuffed into an office space and a lot of plants.

Jam band superheroes Phish have capped off an incredibly quick album rollout campaign, unexpectedly releasing a new album, Sigma Oasis, Thursday.

The buildup to the release took a grand total of two days: Tuesday night, the band announced, during a break in its "Dinner and a Movie" series, that a new album was on its way. The following night, Phish hosted a listening party via YouTube and Facebook Live, before releasing the album wide on Thursday morning.

Our Daily Breather is a series where we ask writers and artists to recommend one thing that's helping them get through the days of isolation during the coronavirus pandemic.

Who: Ruston Kelly

Where: Nashville, Tenn.

Recommendation: Reading Ralph Waldo Emerson (and consuming art)

Russell Moore And IIIrd Tyme Out On Mountain Stage

Apr 2, 2020

Russell Moore and IIIrd Tyme Out, one of bluegrass music's most decorated bands, stopped by Mountain Stage in Charleston, W.Va., with guest host Kathy Mattea in February. "Their vocals are guaranteed to raise the hair on the back of your neck," Mattea said while introducing the group.

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