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The Musical Universe


There's something intriguing about how much drama can go into great albums. Sometimes it ends partnerships, sometimes it fuels them. For Nick Sanborn and Amelia Meath of Sylvan Esso, the friction is essential to what makes their creative collaboration tick.

There will be no shows on Broadway until May 30 at least.

The news comes from the Broadway League, the trade association representing theater producers and owners. According to a press release, the specific dates for returning and new shows will be announced individually, depending on the production schedule for each show.

This is, of course, yet another economic blow from COVID-19.

Jack White will perform as Saturday Night Live's musical guest on Oct. 10, a last-minute replacement of country singer Morgan Wallen, who was previously booked and was dismissed for violating COVID-19 safety protocols.

On NBC's Today, SNL creator Lorne Michaels said that White would perform on tomorrow night's show, along with comic Bill Burr as host and possible surprise guests.

The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world and hip-hop is its most consumed genre of music. A new podcast from NPR Music looks at how those two facts are interconnected. The podcast is called Louder Than A Riot, and it's hosted by journalists Rodney Carmichael and Sidney Madden.

Carmichael and Madden join Morning Edition's Noel King to discuss the premise of the show and the long-running connection between rhyme and punishment in America.

Rapper Tory Lanez was charged on Thursday with assaulting a woman in the Hollywood Hills on July 12. While the alleged victim is not listed by name in a press release issued by the Los Angeles County district attorney and is only referred to as a "female friend" of the rapper, the incident's timing and details line up with allegations made on July 15 by rapper and singer Megan Thee Stallion.

I want to chill like Billy Strings is chilling. Sitting in front of a tapestry on his couch at his home in Nashville, the bluegrass all-star has a truly down-to-earth attitude about things. He tells me about restoring his old Chevrolet Chevelle, the silence and solitude of his favorite fishing spot, and his bluegrass-can-be-anything attitude.

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


One of country music's hottest stars says his invitation to appear this weekend on Saturday Night Live has been revoked.

Morgan Wallen, whose hits include "Whiskey Glasses" and "7 Summers," posted an emotional video to his Instagram page saying show executives nixed his appearance for violating coronavirus safety protocols.

Updated 2:45 p.m. ET

An Iranian singer whose voice was regarded as one of his country's national treasures — and who then ran afoul of the regime — has died. Mohammad Reza Shajarian, a master performer who was hailed as one of NPR's 50 Great Voices of all time, was 80. He earned the title of ostad — master — and was beloved for his commanding voice that could cry with haunting pain and soar with deep soul.

Rodney Carmichael and Sidney Madden are the hosts of Louder Than A Riot, a new podcast from NPR Music that reveals the interconnected rise of hip-hop and mass incarceration in America.

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


Johnny Nash, a singer who scored a No. 1 hit with "I Can See Clearly Now" in 1972, has died. He was 80 years old. His son, Johnny Nash Jr., confirmed his death to The Associated Press, saying his father had died of natural causes at his home in Houston.

"Are things better or worse the second time around? Can we really do anything more than once?" the actor Morgan Freeman asks in 21 Savage and Metro Boomin's new collaborative album, Savage Mode II. Hollywood might shrug at the first question, though it has certainly answered the second loud and clear. Typically Hollywood is guiltier than even hip-hop for cashing in on nostalgia by way of sequels.

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 NPR. To see more, visit


This is what guitar sounded like when played by Eddie Van Halen.


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OK. This is a song you may have in your head even if you were not alive when it was a No. 1 hit on Billboard in 1972.


Combine vibrating urbano bass that conjures classic Daddy Yankee, a silky R&B voice that could make Prince blush and textures reminiscent of John Carpenter's Halloween score, and you've got the latest album from Gabriel Garzón-Montano.

Boston music club Great Scott opened its doors for the first time in 1976, the same year Howlin' Wolf died, The Ramones released their self-titled debut album, and disco rose to the mainstream. During the club's 44-year run, it was all of those sounds: a go-to blues joint, a raucous rock room, and a destination for long-running dance nights. Great Scott has been many things to many people in Boston, most of all an epicenter for the city's culture and local music.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit


The guitarist, bandleader and songwriter Eddie Van Halen died today of cancer. He was 65. His band Van Halen spanned more than four decades, 12 albums, three lead singers and some of the most dramatic guitar solos in rock 'n' roll history.

Sometimes bass guitar can be an overlooked instrument. Sometimes it gets relegated to the background. But today, it's a 62-song playlist that's all about that bass. We asked our social followers "What is the greatest bass riff of all time?" and they delivered.

This year's MacArthur Fellows — recipients of what's commonly known as the Genius Grant — are engineers and writers, scientists and musicians, artists and scholars and filmmakers. They've mapped the universe and the human brain, created new worlds and picked apart what makes our own world tick.

You could say Silvio Rodríguez became the artist he is today at age 12, when his home country's dictatorship was overthrown in the Cuban Revolution. Over the years, Rodríguez's unwavering support of the revolution drew intense criticism from the Cuban exile community, but social activism has always been part of his songs. Generations across Latin America have been inspired by the poetry and politics of the Cuban musician's lyrics.

Eddie Van Halen, the guitarist and songwriter who helped give the rock band Van Halen its name and sound, died Tuesday after a battle with cancer. He was 65.

His death was announced by his son, Wolf Van Halen, on Twitter.

"I can't believe I'm having to write this," the statement said, "but my father, Edward Lodewijk Van Halen, has lost his long and arduous battle with cancer this morning. He was the best father I could ever ask for. Every moment I've shared with him on and off stage was a gift."

Long-term pop fandom can manifest as an unappeasable hunger. Not only do we rely on our favorite musicians to help us relive the memories their songs alone can summon, we also ask that they give us more and more, as if ever-renewing presence on our personal soundtracks could lend coherence to our lives.

Growing up in New York City in the 1960s, musician Lenny Kravitz didn't spend much time thinking about being biracial. The only son of an interracial couple, he says, "I knew that my mother's skin tone was what it was and I knew that my father's skin tone was what it was. ... I thought nothing of it."

But things changed when he reached first grade: "My parents were the only ones that didn't match," he says. "And this kid jumped out and pointed his finger and said, 'Your father's white and your mother's Black!' "

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit


All right. In 1960, Ella Fitzgerald won two Grammys for her live album, "Ella In Berlin: Mack The Knife." Two years later, she was back in front of an audience in Berlin. And for the first time, the public can hear that recording.

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 Supreme Court has declined to hear a case alleging that the band Led Zeppelin plagiarized the opening of one of its signature songs, "Stairway to Heaven." This upholds a previous March ruling that landed in favor of Zeppelin, and possibly ends a legal battle that has gone on since 2014.

Linda Diaz is the winner of the 2020 Tiny Desk Contest. Due to the pandemic, we're not currently filming Tiny Desks at NPR headquarters, so we brought Diaz and her band to the top of New York City's Jacob K. Javits Convention Center and produced a socially-distanced concert in front of the city's skyline. Here's the story of how this concert came together, in her own words.

The podcast Song Exploder lets your favorite musicians tell you how they made your favorite songs. Now, host Hrishikesh Hirway is showing you that story, via a new version of the show adapted for Netflix. Each episode starts at the beginning — the very first moment of inspiration. Then we get to see each layer: the percussion, the bass line, the lyrics.