Host Michel Martin Takes Musical Cues From Directors

As Tell Me More enters its final weeks of production, host Michel Martin shares her favorite songs for the program's 'In Your Ear' series.

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I'm Michel Martin, and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. We're going to end the program today with music. In a few minutes we'll offer an encore of our performance chat with the a cappella group Traces of Blue. But first, a musical word from me. As we've mentioned, our last broadcast is August first and as we wind down production of the program members of our staff have been sharing their favorite songs as part of our regular feature, In Your Ear. Today it's my turn, so can I just tell you - this is what's on my playlist.


ERIC HUTCHINSON: (Singing) OK it's all right with me, some things are just meant to be. It never comes easily, and when it does I'm already gone...

MARTIN: It occurred to me that most of my music education really started when I came to NPR. And the people who've been most influential in kind of shaping my taste have been our directors. The first director of this program was Rob Sachs, and he introduced me to Eric Hutchinson - "OK It's Alright With Me."


HUTCHINSON: (Singing) OK, it's all right with me. Some people are scared to see what's happening frequently. But I would never shy from a fight.

MARTIN: You know, it's one of those things that you hear it you think, yeah it's going to be all right. And one of the reasons I always liked Eric - I love the interview I had with him because he had been through a time. I mean, he - his first record deal evaporated - you know, all this drama - and at the point at which we met him things were finally on the upswing. And I just, you know, loved how this song makes think, you know what? It's going to be all right.


UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: Hey, Macklemore, can we go thrift shopping?

MACKLEMORE: (Singing) What what, what what..

MARTIN: Monika Evstatieva was our second director. She took over after Rob Sachs went on to other things. Monika really also has an ear for people who are up-and-coming.


WANZ: (Singing) I'm gonna pop some tags, only got 20 dollars in my pocket, I - I - I'm hunting, looking for a come-up. This is [bleep] awesome.

MARTIN: She brought Macklemore to the program and I'm still bitter that I was not here. I was actually on vacation the day the Macklemore and Ryan Lewis came in. But I still claim it, and of course "Thrift Shop," you know - who doesn't like that?


WANZ: (Singing) I wear your granddad's clothes, I look incredible. I'm in this big [bleep] coat, from that thrift shop down the road. I wear your granddad's clothes...

MACKLEMORE: [Bleep] right...

WANZ: ...I look incredible...

MACKLEMORE: ...Now come on man...

WANZ: ...I'm in this big [bleep] coat...

MACKLEMORE: ...Big [bleep] coat...

WANZ: ...From that thrift shop down the road.


K'JON: (Singing) Man, the moment I been waiting on, and my soul is overflowing.

MARTIN: Argin Hutchins has been our director most recently and he introduced me to K'Jon - K'Jon was a Detroit native. And his song "On The Ocean" - I just really think speaks to a lot of what people have been going through over the last couple of years.


K'JON: (Singing) Sometimes it feels like everything is passing me by. Every now and then it feels like my ship has gone and sailed away.

MARTIN: I think the opening verse says it all - sometimes it feels like everything is passing me by. I think a lot of people feel that way. And it just think K'Jon really captured something very truthful about the way a lot of people have lived these last couple of years - I mean, a lot of people have struggled. And I think the song is very wistful, and at times it is painful, but it's also very hopeful too. And I love it.


K'JON: (Singing) But this moment, my ship has finally come.


BEYONCE: (Singing) You ready? Let's move.

MARTIN: And the final influence on my musical taste is of course my children. Those of you say the kids don't control the dial when they're in the car with you - well, I don't believe you. But one thing for my kids and I can agree on is Beyonce. And one song we all like is "Move Your Body."


BEYONCE: (Singing) I ain't worried, doing me tonight. A little sweat ain't never hurt nobody. Don't just stand there on the wall, everybody just move your body, move your body, move your body, move your body, move your body...

MARTIN: So that's what's playing in my ear.


BEYONCE: (Singing) Mission eight, feel that heart beat race. Snap your fingers, tap your feet, just keep up with the pace. Hey, hey.

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