Joe Smith poses with Rod Stewart, circa 1974. The former record executive conducted informal interviews with dozens of musicians in the mid-1980s. Jeff Smith hide caption

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Dolly Parton, known as "The Queen of Country Music," has won eight Grammys and sold more than 100 million records. Brendon Thorne/Getty Images hide caption

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Meshell Ndegeocello says she hopes her new album, a tribute to Nina Simone, revives interest in the work and life of the late artist. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Dutch composer Michel van der Aa, winner of the 2013 Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition. Marco Borggreve/courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Martha Wainwright's newest album, Come Home to Mama, was inspired by the death of her mother and birth of her son, which happened about two months apart. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Alicia Keys' latest album is called Girl on Fire. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Piney Gir grew to love performing after getting solos in the choir at church. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Paloma Faith's newest album is called Fall to Grace. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Composer Max Richter's new album takes on Vivaldi's Four Seasons. Erik Weiss/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Red Baraat performs a Tiny Desk Concert on Feb. 3, 2012. John Rose/John Rose/NPR hide caption

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As a young classical composer, Missy Mazzoli borrows music and business strategies from the indie rock world. Stephen Taylor hide caption

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An autographed portrait of Ludwig van Beethoven. Hulton Archive/Getty Images hide caption

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