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Memphis Blues

Apr 4, 2018

Reflecting on today's anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s murder, its 50th, pulls our minds toward images and sounds that surrounded that day in 1968: to the balcony of the Lorraine Motel; to Dr. King's speech in Memphis the day before his assassination. This anniversary has weighed on my mind more than usual, maybe because I've just recently arrived in Washington, D.C., where some of the worst rioting happened in his shooting's aftermath.

When Martin Luther King, Jr. flew from Atlanta to Memphis on the morning of April 3, 1968, he was not in a particularly good state of mind.

"While the plane was about to take off, there was a bomb threat that was specifically targeted at King and that delayed the departure of the flight," says Joseph Rosenbloom, author of the new book Redemption: Martin Luther King Jr.'s Last 31 Hours. "They brought dogs onto the plane, they evacuated the passengers. And so the plane arrived an hour or so late in Memphis."

Dee Dee Bridgewater: Tiny Desk Concert

Apr 2, 2018

"This is me coming back full circle in my life," Dee Dee Bridgewater told NPR right before this Tiny Desk performance. Ever since her teenage years, she's wanted to make her latest album, Memphis... Yes, I'm Ready. Now, a gorgeous 67 years young, Bridgewater is connecting openly with her roots, her birthplace and the town she's loved all her life.

Updated at 1:30 p.m. ET.

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, wife of the late South African leader Nelson Mandela, and a leading anti-apartheid figure in her own right during the country's most turbulent years, has died at age 81.

The Mandela family said in a statement that she died Monday in Johannesburg "after a long illness, for which she had been in and out of hospital since the start of the year."

There is a fundamental audacity to Jesus Christ Superstar, which was staged as a live "concert" performance on NBC on Sunday night. First released as a concept album in 1970, the work by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice not only imagines a very human story behind the final days in the life of Jesus, but it focuses on that story even when it involves ugliness, vanity, and conflict. It posits that Jesus felt not only frustration, but even resentment and ambivalence — not only about his faith, but about his own followers. On the one hand, it's kind of an obvious choice for Easter.

This Easter Sunday, NBC will debut its latest one-night live musical event, Jesus Christ Superstar Live In Concert. The event's source material is the 1970s rock opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, an interpretation of the final days of the life of Jesus Christ. But it's not your old school Sunday morning gospel.

Go Back To Summer Camp With SZA's 'Broken Clocks' Video

Mar 30, 2018

The Weeknd has (at least partially) returned to his dark side.

On My Dear Melancholy, the Toronto-hailing singer drudges up a heartbreak and attempts to drown it in modulated piano, muffled sirens and foggy synths. As its title implies — note that comma — the songs play out as maudlin 'memos to self' to keep track of all the things he'd wished he said before their downfall.

Maybe you became aware of Jazzmeia Horn five years ago, when she took first prize at the Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition. Maybe you got hip when her debut album, A Social Call, was released last year. Maybe you caught her turn on the most recent Grammy Premiere Ceremony, when she knocked a scat chorus into the stratosphere.

Durand Jones & The Indications started as a side project between a few music students at Indiana University's Jacobs School of Music. Their intention was to play for one night only. With a $452.11 recording budget (including beer) and an American Idol-branded toy microphone, they recorded the songs that would become their 2016 self-titled debut.

Soulful and psychedelic, Kadhja Bonet's "Mother Maybe" is full of dazzling twists and turns that seem to happen seamlessly, like the prisms in a kaleidoscope that spin against each other in a hypnotic illusion. Retro bass pricks and funky synths form a technicolor groove while Bonet's creamy soprano flutters in and out of the whistle register with mystifying ease — one minute, she's Shirley Bassey, the next, she's Minnie Riperton. "A magic reverie / Discreet as you are," she coos, lifting into a long-lined, high-pitched sigh, "Power! Power!"

As Easter and Passover approach, University of Connecticut music professor Robert Stephens joins Here & Now‘s Robin Young to discuss the evolution of gospel music, from African rhythms to the Hammond organ that characterizes the popular “Brooklyn sound” in churches today.

Interview Highlights

On how gospels grew out of spirituals

When people talk about immigration, they talk in numbers. Take the migration policy proposals France's President Emmanuel Macron introduced last month: 90 days was the proposed amount of time a person without papers could be detained (up from the current 45). 12 months in jail, plus fines, would be the penalty for illegally crossing borders. Six months would be the new period for considering asylum applications (down from one year).

When Johann Sebastian Bach compiled the first book of the Well-Tempered Clavier in 1722, he wrote that the 24 preludes and fugues were "for the profit and use of musical youth desirous of learning, and especially for the pastime of those already skilled in this study."

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