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As a teenager, the singer-songwriter was already touring the world with his rock band. His new album takes him back to before then, when country music blasted out of Texas radio stations. He performs a solo acoustic set in NPR's Studio 4A.
By the time she was 16, Janis Ian already had a Grammy and a permanent place in the American consciousness. Her new autobiography shares the sometimes shocking stories behind her life and music. In a session from Folk Alley, she performs a cross section of her songs.
Last week, host Andrea Seabrook asked listeners to send in home recordings and photographs of their oddest musical instrument. The responses were eclectic, and some were indeed strange. Here is a smattering of some of the more interesting instrument descriptions from listeners.
O'Riley enjoys his Bach and Beethoven, but he's also a serious fan of pop music and jazz: He's recorded piano arrangements of songs by Radiohead and Nick Drake. O'Riley's latest passion is the adventurous jazz trio The Bad Plus.
When Bill Callahan (a.k.a. Smog) came to KUT to promote the release of 2007's Woke on a Whaleheart, he brought members of Shearwater to back him up. His performance was hopeful, big and explicitly in touch with his influences.
Atlanta native Eli Sweet moved to Chengdu, China, nearly two years ago to improve his Chinese and discover a new way of life. The energetic American raps in underground clubs with Chinese hip-hop artists. He says he encounters "an endless stream of adventure."
Before pursuing a career in music, Lee was a Philadelphia schoolteacher. Then he started going to open-mic nights with a car stereo full of classic R&B records. He recently brought his folky, soulful style to NPR headquarters for a solo performance.
Coming from meager beginnings in middle-class China, the 26-year-old superstar pianist describes his drive to be the best in the world — and the struggles along the way — in his new autobiography, Journey of a Thousand Miles.
The band from Champaign, IL brings Phil Spector and his doo wop groups to mind as well as classic mid-90s indie rock bands. A video shoot with the band even revealed them to be five of the nicest people we could have hoped to meet.
In 1876, Tchaikovsky composed musical snapshots of each month of the calendar year for publication in a St. Petersburg magazine. Pianist Wu Han performs the entire cycle, and discusses the music with Performance Today host Fred Child in NPR's studio.
The New Yorker describes the Quavers as moody and enchanting. The two Brooklyn musicians describe themselves as a "space-age Carter family." They stopped by The Bryant Park Project studios to demonstrate.