Talia Schlanger

Talia Schlanger hosts World Cafe, which is distributed by NPR and produced by WXPN, the public radio service of the University of Pennsylvania. She got her start in broadcasting at the CBC, Canada's national public broadcaster. She hosted CBC Radio 2 Weekend Mornings on radio and was the on-camera host for two seasons of the television series CBC Music: Backstage, as well as several prime-time music TV specials for CBC, including the Quietest Concert Ever: On Fundy's Ocean Floor. Schlanger also guest hosted various flagship shows on CBC Radio One, including As It Happens, Day 6 and Because News. Schlanger also won a Canadian Screen Award as a producer for CBC Music Presents: The Beetle Roadtrip Sessions, a cross-country rock 'n' roll road trip.

Schlanger is a proud alumna of Ryerson's Radio and Television Arts program. Previously she worked as a professional actress and singer, including performing in the first national US tour of Green Day's rock opera American Idiot, Mirvish Productions' original Canadian company of Queen's We Will Rock You and Mamma Mia!. Born and raised in Toronto, Schlanger denies the accusation that she's biased toward Canadian bands. But she is proud to introduce American audiences to a lot of them.

"Odds are the people that love you are just dying for you to tell the truth." When Kiley Lotz, who records as Petal, says this, you believe her. Kiley made her second full length album, Magic Gone, while she was coming to terms with seeking help for major depressive and panic disorders and subsequently going through treatment. She also came out as queer at that time.

On the night Jeff Tweedy was set to visit the Free Library of Philadelphia to talk about his new memoir, Let's Go (So We Can Get Back), in front of an audience of fans, the first snow storm of the season had caught the city off guard. Traffic was gnarly and Tweedy was genuinely concerned.

A bunch of artists rent a house in Glorieta, N.M. for a week of tequila, hot tubs, home cooking and music-making. Some of them know each other, some are meeting for the first time. It may sound like the premise for a spring break movie, but it's actually the premise for a new album — one that has equal measures of sweaty, raucous fun and arresting, emotional depth.

Hozier is an artist who can create musical moments big enough to galvanize every molecule of air around them into action and tiny enough that they can burrow themselves in the hidden corners of your own heart. His ability to do both on the same album — and sometimes, even on the same song — is what makes him so special.

Today, a Cinderella story, but with a glass cowboy boot for a slipper. It's about Lori McKenna, a songwriter from a small town outside Boston, who made a massive name for herself in Nashville, won her first Grammy in 2016 and became the first woman to win Songwriter of the Year by the Academy of Country Music in 2017.

I couldn't make it through Ruston Kelly's full-length debut in one stretch the first time I tried. Between the mortal question — "How the hell do I return to normal / If I'm always ending up flat on my back?" — he poses on the opening track and the heart-wrenching harmonica on the next tune, by the time the vocoder washed over the image Kelly as the "son of a highway daughter, born in gasoline" on Track 3, I had to take a welled-up walk away from my desk.

Kacey Musgraves is magnetic — there are no two ways about it. It's not just that she can sing like a bird and write like a bard. It's the calm charisma that a person who knows exactly who she is and wishes the same for others can't help but exude.

The ceilings are low. Other than a handwritten sign taped above the mixing board that says "Try," the walls are blank. There's a violin that only has one string lying under the desk, and a bunch of pieces of a drum kit in a corner next to some keys. We're in the basement studio in Edinburgh, Scotland where Young Fathers made its Scottish Album of the Year Award-winning record Cocoa Sugar.

When she recently accepted the Spirit of Americana Free Speech Award, Rosanne Cash called artists and musicians "the premier service industry for the heart and soul." Throughout Cash's discography and especially on her new album, it's clear Cash takes that service seriously.

Stella Donnelly may win the World Cafe award for least high maintenance and largest musical impact. She came in with her guitar, a big warm smile and a totally unassuming personality, and asked if we had a room she could use for a quick vocal warm-up. OK, sure. Ten minutes later, she emerged, plugged in her guitar and delivered a flawless one-take performance with the kind of vocal control they could write singing textbooks about, and the kind of clever and poignant words that make you want to read the lyric sheet after.

Something truly magical happens when Amelia Meath (from Sylvan Esso), Molly Erin Sarlé and Alexandra Sauser-Monnig are in the same room, huddled around the same mic, breathing and harmonizing together.

Back in July, Elvis Costello announced to fans on social media that he would be cancelling a handful of tour dates to recover from surgery for a a small but very aggressive cancerous malignancy. In the same post, he announced a bright side. He and his band, the Imposters, would release a new album in the fall.

For more than 50 years, guitar and songwriting giant Richard Thompson has twisted the traditions of British folk, shattered the boundaries of genre and stretched the limitations of human hands.

More often than not, when you hear songs that ring out with the urgency and complexity of being in a relationship at a difficult time, you're hearing just one side of the story; what passion and loss and doubt and loneliness and lust feels like from just the side of the person making the music.

If you're a more detail-oriented person than I am when it comes to getting places, maybe a happy accident of music discovery like this has never happened to you. But about a decade ago, when I thought I was going to see a friend's regular drums, bass guitar indie band, I walked into the venue and saw in front of me a woman lying on the floor playing a light-up sousaphone that was pointing up at the sky, a guy on violin and a lead singer who was in the throes of klezmer-pop-party mania. Let's just say this was not my friend's indie band, and I was very thrilled to have made the mistake.

"Who are you and why are you calling me?" According to Dawn Landes, that's what Country Music Hall of Famer Fred Foster said when she rang him up out of the blue and asked Foster to produce her new album. Foster founded Monument Records, he signed Dolly Parton and he produced most of Roy Orbison's hits in the 1960s. These days, he's in his late eighties and mostly retired.

Ry Cooder On World Cafe

Sep 7, 2018

For Ry Cooder, records were not only a first love, but an escape. As a boy growing up in Santa Monica, Calif. in the 1950's, listening to records was a lens into a wider world. He says the first albums that caught his imagination were from traveling blues and gospel musicians.

Leave it to Matt Mays to infuse a daytime studio visit with the spirit of a super sweaty, late night at your favorite dive bar. Mays performs big rock songs from his latest album Once Upon a Hell of a Time featuring the sound of three simultaneous guitars and one heck of a growl. Mays credits Melissa Cross' "The Zen of Screaming" with saving his vocal life.

"What inspired this song?" That's one of the most basic questions we ask artists when they share new music. Sometimes that question leads to an interesting answer, sometimes it leads to a cryptic answer, but rarely does it lead to a flight across the country to spend a day at the zoo with a remarkable nearly 9-year-old girl and her family.

Today's guest made me cry in a church and I'll never forgive him. Dermot Kennedy was performing a showcase for SXSW. It was super dark, Kennedy was standing up there at the altar wearing this black sweatshirt and holding a guitar, and from the moment he opened his mouth, it was like hearing someone drag their own heart through their vocal cords and send it right up to the heavens: relentless emotion. It was like time stopped.

Normally when a guest sits down for a World Cafe interview, our producers or I help them adjust their microphone to the correct distance and angle. And if a piece of technology is misbehaving, we'll sort it out and hopefully our guest will be none the wiser. Not Vanessa Parr. On the day she visited the World Cafe studio, Parr couldn't resist adjusting her own mic to absolute perfection and helping us troubleshoot some finicky recording software. Call it an occupational hazard for someone who is used to making other people sound their very best day in and day out.

I'm sure you've had this experience at some point: You hear the voice of an artist who was important to you at a particular time and all of a sudden, the sound of it sends you tumbling back through your own memory right to where you were – that college dorm room, those bleachers on that football field, that cross country road trip with your first love — the first time you heard that voice.

No matter what you listen to in your life right now, no matter how far your musical tastes have come, the music you grew up with will always be special. Today's guest, Boz Scaggs, can tell you that firsthand. He played with the Steve Miller Band in the '60s and became a household name in the '70s thanks to songs like "Lido Shuffle" and albums like Silk Degrees.

"They'll blow your socks off if you have any on," reads a fan's Facebook post about the live capabilities of Rainbow Kitten Surprise. And it's true. This undefinable five-piece band from the small town of Boone, N.C. boasts a blend of charisma, musical chops, sing-along harmonies and breakneck creativity that's made it a nearly instant favorite among the nation's sandals-wearing music festival crowd.

If you ask today's guest what she's been up to since the last time she was on World Cafe about a year and a half ago, she might say something like, "Oh, not much. Finished my Masters of Fine Arts, raised a toddler, toured in my husband's band the 400 unit, completed another record of my own, won Emerging Artist of the Year at the Americana Music Awards ... and slept at some point."

Looking back on the past year of some incredible sessions this week, World Cafe is digging into the archives for some of its best performances and interviews since last July. You'll hear sessions with artists including singer-songwriter Natalie Prass, "the Croz" himself, David Crosby, Australian rocker Courtney Barnett and more.

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