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The Musical Universe

 

Fall is upon us and World Cafe's Nashville correspondent, Ann Powers of NPR Music, is back to give you a rundown of her favorite end of summer releases to come out of the Music City this month.

Mac Davis, a songwriter and performer who began a decades-long ascent in music and entertainment in the early 1960s, died Tuesday in Nashville following heart surgery. His death was confirmed by his manager, Jim Morey. He was 78.

Editor's note: This story contains sexually explicit language and song lyrics.

Australian-born singer Helen Reddy, whose hit "I Am Woman" became a feminist anthem in the 1970's, died in Los Angeles on Tuesday afternoon. She was 78 years old.

Her death was announced on Facebook by her children, Traci Donat and Jordan Sommers. Reddy had dementia for several years before her death.

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.

The Morning Edition Song Project, in which musicians compose an original song about the COVID-19 era, returns this week with New Orleans group Tank and the Bangas. When NPR first approached the band over the summer, the pandemic and the George Floyd protests were dominating the news. Asked to compose some music that put her feelings about the words into words, singer Tarriona "Tank" Ball responded with a song simply called "Feelings."

September's edition of Heavy Rotation, chosen by NPR member stations, features music from Janelle Monáe, Labrinth, SAULT, Omar Apollo, New Order and more.

All of this month's picks are available to stream on the Heavy Rotation Spotify playlist at the bottom of the page. As always, you can discover fantastic music programming happening across the country by clicking the links to each station's website, included below.

World Cafe celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. In doing so, we look back to some of the incredible live performances from artists that have been featured on World Cafe, Latin Roots and WXPN's XPoNential and Nuevofest music festivals. Check out this 25-song video playlist, featuring a studio performance from Chicano Batman, a festival performance by Xenia Rubinos and much, much more.

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.

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

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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.

You might think that sitting down with two of music's biggest superstars would be kind of intimidating — that someone who has spent the last year breaking sales records and accepting countless awards would maybe be hard to relate to.

How TikTok Has Changed The Music Industry

Sep 27, 2020

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

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

This year, many people have been turning to music for catharsis, but Mama Haze, aka songwriter Meaghan Maples, has been tapping into music's healing powers for a long time. Before pursuing music full-time, the Oakland, Calif.-based artist was a doula and caregiver, often prescribing music as an antidote to patients' pain.

This week it's a late summer, early harvest as Fiona Ritchie puts together an hour of new releases. Featured artists include Anadama, Skerryvore, The Black Brothers, and Luka Bloom.

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

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In its own time it was the soundtrack to a shattered United States of America, the title track inspired by police violence against protesters in Berkeley, Calif.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WHAT'S GOING ON")

When you speak with The War and Treaty, you can feel the love that Tanya Blount-Trotter and Michael Trotter Jr have for each other and their fans, whom they credit as helping create the bubble of acceptance that is the duo's latest album, Hearts Town.

Sufjan Stevens' Fifty States Of Grey

Sep 24, 2020

In 2012, Sufjan Stevens released a cover of "The Star-Spangled Banner." Far from the reverent, vampy and vocally pyrotechnic renditions that ritualistically precede American sporting events, Stevens' version was instead muted and ominous.

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

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

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There are certain things children shouldn't have to worry about.

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.

New York's famed Metropolitan Opera announced on Wednesday that the house will remain closed until September 2021.

In a press release, the Met said that it had made its decision to cancel the rest of the 2020-21 season based on the advice of "health officials who advise the Met and Lincoln Center," and keeping in mind the hundreds of performers and staff members required for rehearsals and performances as well as its audiences.

My hazy memories of childhood in the 1980s are a jumble of contrasts. On one hand, there's the grim, gray dread of existential threats: nuclear brinkmanship, acid rain, mounting AIDS infections and trickle-down economics. But Day-Glo '80s pop culture — everything from fluorescent shoelaces to loose-jointed breakdancing to Prince albums and wacky films like Berry Gordy's The Last Dragon — offered me escapist relief from the encroachment of peril. Annus horribilis 2020 is just as full of contrasts.

Today marks what would have been jazz giant John Coltrane's 94th birthday. Two years before his untimely death from liver cancer in 1967, a young San Francisco couple heard him play — and their experience was literally religious.

They founded a spiritual community inspired by his music and 50 years later, they're still preaching that gospel at the Coltrane Church in San Francisco.

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In 2015, Janelle Monáe released the visceral and raw "Hell You Talmbout," a protest song that directly listed the names of the Black lives lost at the hands of law enf

Ridgewood, N.J., rock band Real Estate put out its first album in 2009, but the group started playing together a lot earlier than that. Like so many suburban rock bands do, the founding members met in high school and played in backyards and basements.

Philadelphia's famed jazz culture runs deep among fans and regional artists, who have celebrated this uniquely American art form for the better part of a century.

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

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep. Bruce Springsteen says his new album might not have existed except for a fan.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LETTER TO YOU")

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN: (Singing) ...My letter to you.

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.

In the musical Hamilton, there's an entire song about the election of 1800 — the contest between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson that marked the first peaceful transfer of power between opposing political factions in U.S. history.

America now is on the cusp of the election of 2020 — and cast members of the hit Broadway show have repurposed some of the show's soundtrack with new lyrics to promote voting.

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