NPR Music

Kenny White On Mountain Stage

Feb 21, 2019

As guest host Kathy Mattea notes in her introduction of New York-based songwriter Kenny White, he is a "musician's musician." A pianist, producer, composer, arranger and renowned commercial music producer, White has played with Jonathan Edwards, Tom Jones and Judy Collins, among others. As a producer he worked on Shawn Colvin's single "I Don't Know Why" and helmed four solo CDs by Peter Wolf.

We're thrilled to have Gary Clark Jr. on World Cafe today. Gary is a guitar prodigy from Austin who showed so much promise that the mayor held a ceremony to declare "Gary Clark Jr. Day" when he was still in high school.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify and Apple Music playlists at the bottom of the page.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify and Apple Music playlists at the bottom of the page.


Meg Duffy's music seems to exist in miniature, but it's not for brevity or lack of complexity. Just the opposite, in fact: Recording as Hand Habits, Duffy pays scrupulous attention to detail in songs that function like intricate dioramas.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify and Apple Music playlists at the bottom of the page.

The Thistle & Shamrock: Love Songs

Feb 20, 2019

This week, Fiona Ritchie shares not only some of Robert Burns' traditional love verses, but also music featuring the love of land, whisky, and homeland, with Maura O'Connell, Shooglenifty, and Moya Brennan.

After eight years of playing cello and singing with The Lumineers, Neyla Pekarek left the band this past fall. In January, she struck out on her own with a solo album called Rattlesnake. It's a concept album based on the true story of Colorado's Rattlesnake Kate, who rescued herself and her 3-year-old adopted son from an attack by killing more than 140 snakes in 1925.

This story is part of American Anthem, a yearlong series on songs that rouse, unite, celebrate and call to action. Find more at NPR.org/Anthem.


It was February 1967, and 18-year-old Marine Pfc. Bill Ehrhart was days away from leaving for Vietnam. He had just enjoyed his last weekend off base, and his friends had offered to drive him back to Camp Pendleton, Calif., before sunrise.

"It was goodbye civilian world, next stop Vietnam," says Ehrhart, now a writer and poet.

We're being treated to a special kind performance from a tight-knit group of friends.

On this week's All Songs Considered we premiere new music from Aldous Harding. The artist from New Zealand made my number two album from 2017 (Party) and her latest song, "The Barrel," indicates that she'll be another year-end favorite of mine in 2019.

A decade ago, J.S. Ondara was just a kid from Nairobi, Kenya, obsessed with American artists like Nirvana, Neil Young and Bob Dylan before he could even understand their lyrics.

Scott Mulvahill has been trying to win the Tiny Desk Contest for each of its four years. He's always been one of our favorites, though he's never been our winner. The double bassist entered his song, "Begin Againers" in 2016 and though it wasn't the winning entry, we all loved it so much, I invited him to my desk to perform his extraordinary song. He opened the Tiny Desk with it, only this time he was joined by bandmates Jesse Isley and Josh Shilling who shared vocal harmonies.

A brickbat is something to wield: a rock, or a biting remark. It's also the name of the debut album by the British band Piroshka. Led by Miki Berenyi of British shoegazers Lush, the band comprises musicians from a handful of acts that made their mark in the 1990s British indie-pop scene, including Berenyi's partner K.J. McKillop of Moose, Elastica's Justin Welch and Modern English's Mick Conroy.

What is the blues? To some, it's a feeling; to others, a beer-selling brand. Adia Victoria captures the spirits of the blues in a simple phrase: black genius.

Our list of the best albums out this week includes the first new music from funk and R&B legend Chaka Khan in 12 years, the cinematic, transporting sounds of Yann Tiersen, bubblegum punk from Sir Babygirl and more. Host Robin Hilton is joined by NPR Music's Lauren Onkey and Stephen Thompson as they share their top picks for Feb. 15.

Featured Albums:

  1. Chaka Khan: Hello Happiness
    Featured Songs: "Like Sugar" and "Too Hot"
  2. RY X: Unfurl
    Featured Song: "Untold"

Ryan Adams, a prolific singer-songwriter and producer who first rose to prominence in the early 2000s, has been accused by seven women of using his professional influence to lure them into sexual relationships, including one when the woman was a minor. The women's stories were first reported by the New York Times in an article published Wednesday evening; each claims that Adams, as a well-known musician, would suggest artistic collaborations as a way to pursue or preserve the relationships.

Joan Osborne On Mountain Stage

Feb 14, 2019

Kentucky native Joan Osborne first came to prominence in 1996 with the Grammy-winning record Relish, which featured the controversial hit "One of Us." In the decades that followed, she has proved herself as versatile as a vocalist as she is powerful. She has explored nearly all facets of American music, collaborating with the brothers Holmes and Funk, touring with Phil Lesh and Friends, and performing at the Grand Ole Opry.

LA's Cherry Glazerr celebrated the release of its latest album, Stuffed & Ready, with a live performance on Morning Becomes Eclectic. The band's seamless blend of dreamy rock and punk was performed with fun, raucous energy.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify and Apple Music playlists at the bottom of the page.

Mountain Man is the perfect band for a Tiny Desk concert. These three women make the most intimate music; and behind the desk, the voices of Amelia Meath, Molly Erin Sarlé and Alexandra Sauser-Monnig were the stars. Adorned by only light, rhythmic acoustic guitar, they sing songs that conjure a simpler life: dogs, friends, moonlight, sunlight, skinny dipping, beach towels and sand.

The Women Behind The Songs: Holly Knight

Feb 12, 2019

Holly Knight helped define the sound of '80s pop music. Though you may not know her name, the three-time Grammy winner's music has appeared on more than half a billion records sold.

Born in New York City, Knight started playing piano at age 4 and studied classical music for more than a decade. But as a teenager in the 1970s, Manhattan's downtown rock scene beckoned.

This week's show is made possible by a generous amount of existential anxiety. This includes the ego-destroying rock anthem "I Don't Matter At All," from the Toronto band Pkew Pkew Pkew, and an epic life manifesto from Amanda Palmer called "The Ride" – a ten-minute oration about the crippling effects of unbridled and rampant fear.

While accepting the Best Contemporary Blues Album Grammy for Please Don't Be Dead, Fantastic Negrito gave a shout-out to the Tiny Desk concerts series, which he said changed the course of his life and offered hope when he'd almost given up.

Izzy Young made his mark as a major force in the folk music scene in New York City starting in the 1950s. Young died Monday, Feb. 4, in Stockholm. He was 90.

Raised in the Bronx, Young was passionate about folk dancing and his dive into folk music followed. "Those folk songs told me about my life," Young said in a 2004 interview from the Museum of Pop Culture archives. "And other people's lives. Stories that I could understand."

Winners of this year's Grammy Awards will be announced Sunday, Feb. 10. It's been a year since outrage erupted in the music business after Neil Portnow, president and CEO of the Recording Academy, the organization which gives out the Grammys, said in an interview that women should "step up" if they wanted to be recognized in the music industry.

After a year in New York, the 61st Annual Grammy Awards return to Los Angeles, taking place at the Staples Center this weekend on Sunday, Feb. 10. Over the years, World Cafe has had numerous visits from those nominated and those who've won, and last year we were fortunate to have some extraordinary musicians on the show.

Our list of the best albums out this week includes delicate piano pieces from Hauschka, the brilliantly burning rock of Bob Mould, songs inspired by the film Roma, Mercury Rev's remake of Bobbie Gentry's country opera The Delta Sweete, and much more. Host Robin Hilton is joined by NPR Music's Felix Contreras, Tom Huizenga and Stephen Thompson as they sprint through their top picks for Feb. 8.

Featured Albums:

  1. Bob Mould: Sunshine Rock
    Featured Song: "Sunshine Rock"

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify and Apple Music playlists at the bottom of the page.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify and Apple Music playlists at the bottom of the page.


Throughout its career, Tedeschi Trucks Band has mined rich musical territory. Ever since the group's 2011 debut together (Revelator), as well as on Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks' solo recordings, the two have taken their love of classic rock, old soul and blues, and put their own authentic Americana stamp on it.

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According to Greek mythology, the cunning King Sisyphus of Ephyra received the ultimate punishment at the end of his days: damnation and an eternity spent pushing a rock up a mountain

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