The mbira, or Zimbabwean thumb piano, is a revered ceremonial instrument from Southern Africa. As played by Stella Chiweshe, the mbira's often haunting sound has recently been embraced by world music enthusiasts. Chiweshe performs songs from her new CD and talks about the deeply spiritual and political sources of her inspiration.
Hot Club of Cowtown's five albums revive Western swing, a musical style made famous more than half a century ago by groups such as Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys. Group members stop by NPR's Studio 4B for a performance chat with NPR's John Ydstie.
Songwriter Vic Chesnutt has often been called gifted, but in the past, his introspective, idiosyncratic music has been deemed too gloomy for the masses. On his latest CD, Silver Lake, Chesnutt's songs take an upbeat turn, though his homey narrative style and gallows humor remain. Listen to songs from Silver Lake, and watch Chesnutt's performance in NPR's studio 4A.
Singer-songwriter Jonatha Brooke is something of an underground sensation, with an adoring fan base built largely on word of mouth and extensive touring with her band. Hear five full-length cuts from her recent performance in NPR's Studio 4A, and view a video of Brooke and her band performing the title track to her latest CD, Steady Pull.
The Jayhawks were at the forefront of the modern "alt-country" sound. There first album, 1991's Hollywood Town Hall, is a favorite of music critics and a devoted fan base. Now the Jayhawks have a new album and a new passion for spreading the word. Hear full-length cuts from their live performance in NPR's Studio 4A.
Vince Gill is a can't-miss country music hit maker whose signature sound combines the pop feel of modern country acts with a deep love and respect of traditional country music soul. Gill sat down recently with NPR's Melissa Block to play some songs from his new album. Watch a video of Gill perform a solo rendition of "We Had It All" and hear him perform other songs exclusive to npr.org.
Willie Nelson turns 70 years old next week. We mark the occasion with a 1996 interview and in-studio performance; Nelson tells Terry Gross about the genesis of songs like "Family Bible" and "Crazy" — the classic made famous by Patsy Cline.
Piano prodigy Lang Lang, just 20 years old, describes touching the keys as an electrical force. He's making his first appearance at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., where he'll perform the world premiere of Eight Memories in Water Color by Chinese composer Tan Dun. Hear Lang Lang perform two pieces on piano, and listen to a duet with his father, playing the traditional Chinese violin, the er hu
A snappy new CD by the Charlie Hunter Quintet features harmonica, sax, trombone, drums, and guitar, underpinned by a funky bass line — but there's no bass player listed in the liner notes. That's because Hunter does double duty, playing bass and guitar lines with his custom-made eight-string guitar. NPR's Liane Hansen talks with Hunter about his unique playing style.