Alvin Ailey Artistic Director Moves To Missy Elliot

Robert Battle is the artistic director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, so music is a big part of his job. He shares the songs that move him for Tell Me More's "In Your Ear" series.

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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Now we turn to a regular feature we call In Your Ear. That's where we invite some of our guests to tell us about the songs they've been listening to. Today, we hear from Robert Battle. He is the artistic director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. The company is currently on its North American tour. And we spoke with Robert Battle earlier this year, and he shared the old and new school hits that get him moving.

ROBERT BATTLE: My name is Robert Battle. I'm the artistic director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. And what's playing in my ear is Rachelle Ferrell "I Can Explain."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I CAN EXPLAIN")

BATTLE: She tears it up. She has, like, octave range that is out of control. She's a singer that is not so much in the pop genre, but people who do know her usually are in that genre but know that Rachelle Ferrell has one of the most amazing voices ever to grace our ears. So she gets much respect that way. But she's just incredible.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MY FUNNY VALENTINE")

BATTLE: What's also playing in my ear is Sarah Vaughan. She's my favorite singer. "My Funny Valentine," she, in my opinion, should only be the one who sung that song. But she died in 1990 so somebody else is singing it now.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MY FUNNY VALENTINE")

BATTLE: What's also playing in my ear sometimes is Missy Elliott because, you know, you got to balance it a little bit here. I love her style. I love humor, her intensity and her sort of I-don't-care attitude.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LICK SHOTS")

BATTLE: She's quite brilliant when you really get down into the music. So as you can see, I'm a little bit old-fashioned. I'm not up with the trends. I just know what I like, and I know what's good.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LICK SHOTS")

MARTIN: That was Robert Battle, artistic director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater telling us what's playing in his ear. To hear our previous conversation with him, just head over to NPR.org, click on the programs tab and go to TELL ME MORE.

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