Worlds Colliding: Rhiannon Giddens And Francesco Turrisi

Rhiannon Giddens and Francesco Turrisi are both gifted multi-instrumentalists and devoted students of music history. Each has dug into the past to illuminate the present and worked to give credit where credit is due for the way instruments and ideas have moved over time between people and places. While Rhiannon's work has focused on the influence of African traditions on what we think of as American music, Francesco is an expert in the often unacknowledged influence of Arabic and Middle Eastern music on what we think of as European sound. They found common ground in their quest to dispel false cultural narratives and turned it into gorgeous music on a new collaborative album called 'there is no Other'.

Worlds Colliding: Rhiannon Giddens And Francesco Turrisi

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Ace Of Cups' Endless Summer Of Love

The members Ace of Cups came together in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury neighborhood around the Summer of Love in the late 1960s. They lived down the street from the Grateful Dead, built up a following and shared the stage (and their gear) with Jimi Hendrix the week after he played the Monterey Pop Festival. Although there were female-fronted acts like Jefferson Airplane and singers like Janis Joplin on the scene at the time, Ace of Cups was a shock to the '60s system as an all-female rock band whose members played their own instruments and wrote their own songs. Despite being poised for superstardom, things didn't quite work out for Ace of Cups back then. But this past November, more than 50 years after getting together, the band released its full-length debut studio album. Original members Mary Gannon, Denise Kaufman, Mary Ellen Simpson, and Diane Vitalich dropped by World Cafe along with touring keyboard player Giovanna Imbesi to perform live and share stories about Ken Kesey's Acid Tests, the Summer of Love and their lives since then.

Ace Of Cups' Endless Summer Of Love

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Hayes Carll Tells Stories That Reflect The World Around Him

Hayes Carll has been making music for nearly two decades. Early on, he focused more on telling other people's stories than his own. Now, Carll has a really sweet collection of new songs called 'What It Is', where the roots rocker from Texas applies his keen eye for detail and humor to tell stories that reflect the world all around him — inside him and beside him. Carll's partner, musician Allison Moorer, played a big part in the making of the album. She co-wrote several songs and co-produced the record along with Brad Jones. Moorer talks about watching Carll transform as a songwriter, and the two share what it was like to both put out records based on their respective divorces around the same time before they fell in love.

Hayes Carll Tells Stories That Reflect The World Around Him

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Lizzo Is In The Eye Of A Superstar Storm

The night before Lizzo swooped off a 5 a.m. flight and into World Cafe, her colossal album 'Cuz I Love You' made her the highest streaming artist on Spotify. She had just been nominated for a BET Award in the category of best female hip-hop artist alongside Cardi B and Nicki Minaj. She was right in the eye of a superstar storm, and she wasn't afraid to talk about the challenges that come alongside all the good bits of achieving her dreams. In Lizzo's words, "If I had to be fake during all this press and all of this work, I think that it would eat me alive." Lizzo is a singer, writer, rapper, producer and classically trained flute player who has been training and working towards this incredible moment for a long time. We talked about the inspiration she drew from Aretha Franklin, what it was like for her to record with Prince when she was rapping in Minneapolis and the making of her major label full length debut (albeit her third studio album) 'Cuz I Love You'. You can hear it all in the player, read selected highlights below and watch acoustic versions of "Cuz I Love You" and "Juice."

Lizzo Is In The Eye Of A Superstar Storm

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Norah Jones Turns Fame Into Freedom

Just over a minute into her new collection of singles, 'Being Again', Norah Jones declares "I will rise." Her vocal power is arresting and floats over heartbeat percussion and ambient piano. It's unlike anything we've heard from Jones before, which is saying a lot given the many facets of musical exploration she's pursued since breaking out with her 2002 debut, 'Come Away With Me'. While some artists who have that kind of explosive fame early on seem intimidated by trying to outdo their own commercial success, or trapped by what people expect from them afterwards, Jones has managed to do something brilliant and far too rare — she's used her fame to carve out the exact career that she wants, where she's guided purely by exploring her own musical interests. Whether that means making an Everly Brothers cover album with Billie Joe Armstrong from Green Day, fronting a country classic tribute band The Little Willies, or collaborating with anyone from Dolly Parton to Danger Mouse. Or, in the case of her latest release, 'Begin Again', ditching the album format in favor of a collection of seven singles that would allow her to sprawl out musically without being bound by an expectation of a unifying theme. We spoke about creative freedom, personal privacy and luck. Jones shared why she doesn't talk to her audience in between songs on stage, why she prefers a rowdy crowd and what it was like to bond with Sharon Van Etten over being a touring parent.

Norah Jones Turns Fame Into Freedom

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From Bluegrass to Newgrass: The Story Of Sam Bush

Musical pioneer and mandolin star Sam Bush is the subject of a documentary called 'Revival: The Sam Bush Story', which traces Sam's musical trajectory from a kid who grew up on country and bluegrass in Kentucky to one of the founders of the band New Grass Revival to one of the key influencers in modern Americana. The film features friends and admirers like Bela Fleck, Emmy Lou Harris, Chris Thile of The Punch Brothers, Allison Krauss and The Avett Brothers who all reflect on the musical trails Bush blazed. Bush drops by World Cafe to reflect on mashing the improvisational spirit of jazz, the late-night sprawling sensibilities of jam bands and even the influence of reggae with the roots of bluegrass and country.

From Bluegrass to Newgrass: The Story Of Sam Bush

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Ryan Bingham's Rugged And Raw 'American Love Song'

Many of Ryan Bingham's life stories sound like country songs in and of themselves. Bingham was raised between New Mexico, California and Texas. His family moved around a lot when he was growing up as his dad struggled to find work. Bingham left home at 17 to ride in the rodeo before picking up the guitar. And some of his biggest career highs have come crashing into some of his life's lows. In the same year the artist won an Oscar for co-writing a song inspired by his father for the film Crazy Heart, he lost his father to suicide. On his latest album, 'American Love Song', Bingham offers rugged, raw and tenderhearted reflections on the state of the world and his own personal history.

Ryan Bingham's Rugged And Raw 'American Love Song'

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Rescued From The Vault: Nat Turner Rebellion

Fifty years ago, the band Nat Turner Rebellion made a funky album in Philadelphia that could have been a total classic. The band had a record deal, fans and, according to founder Joe Jefferson the members were "crowd killers." But then, it all fell apart and the album has been pretty much buried in audio archives — until now. Nat Turner Rebellion's debut, 'Laugh to Keep from Crying', was recently released for the first time. We heard the story of Nat Turner Rebellion on WHYY, our fellow public radio station here in Philadelphia where we make World Cafe, and we really wanted to share it with you on the Cafe. The story is told by WHYY arts reporter Peter Crimmins, listen in the player.

Rescued From The Vault: Nat Turner Rebellion

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Yola Has Walked Through Fire (And Came Out Singing)

The songs on Yola's debut full-length solo album, 'Walk Through Fire', ring out with the triumphant air of someone who has withstood the flames and the heat en route to achieving their dreams. The title is a metaphor for some of the tribulations Yola has faced – including experiencing homelessness in London, and enduring an emotionally abusive relationship. The title is also a nod to the time Yola's dress literally caught fire a few years ago, and sent her house up in flames. Yola shares stories about some of the lows and some of the highs she has experienced – including performing with Massive Attack in front of 60,000 people at Glastonbury. Yola says many people who hear her story call her a "strong black woman," and she explains why that isn't the most welcome or useful reaction. 'Walk Through Fire' was produced by Dan Auerbach, and Yola joins us to perform from Dan's Easy Eye Sound Studio in Nashville.

Yola Has Walked Through Fire (And Came Out Singing)

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George Benson Has A Story To Tell

When Warner Bros. heard George Benson's take on "This Masquerade," they didn't realize he was the vocalist. It's one of the many amazing tales Benson shares with us on World Cafe. Benson's latest album is 'Walking to New Orleans', a tribute to Chuck Berry and Fats Domino. Benson is one of America's great guitarists, a virtuoso who's been honored by the National Endowment of the Arts as a jazz master. He's won 10 Grammys, including record of the year for his triple platinum 'Breezin". He's worked with countless musicians of note, and you'll hear about a lot of them in this session. Sure, the stories are amazing, but his delivery makes it even better.

George Benson Has A Story To Tell

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Pedro The Lion's Homecoming

David Bazan has been releasing solo records steadily for the past decade, but 'Phoenix' marks his first album returning as Pedro the Lion in 15 years. The record was inspired by Phoenix, Arizona, where Bazan lived until he was 12 years old. Phoenix is also the place where he says he first "got into debt" with himself, a phrase Bazan uses to describe bottling up feelings over time. The album houses many of Bazan's childhood memories and stunning moments of personal poetry reflected through the experience of adulthood. Bazan shares some of the stories that inspired his new songs and reflects on his relationship with religion, including how his daughter's birth caused him to grapple with the Evangelical Christian faith he grew up with.

Pedro The Lion's Homecoming

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Leyla McCalla Has The Capitalist Blues

As you may guess from the title of her third solo album, Leyla McCalla tackles social and economic issues pretty directly on 'The Capitalist Blues'. The multi-instrumentalist and Carolina Chocolate Drops alumna sings about everything from injustice and poverty to her daughter's experience with elevated levels of lead. And although the topics are heavy, the music is danceable — a treatment informed by the troubadour traditions of McCalla's Haitian roots and the Cajun and Zydeco traditions of her adopted home in New Orleans. In this session, McCalla talks about her parents' work as Haitian human rights activists and how the history of her people and the attitudes of her parents inspired her to tackle social issues through art. And McCalla performs live.

Leyla McCalla Has The Capitalist Blues

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Foals On Writing in Pubs and Cycling Around Lakes

Foals' latest album, 'Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 1', came out in March. 'Part 2' comes out in the fall. The band has been releasing stadium-sized songs for just over a decade, and this time around, it made a couple changes in pursuit of ultimate creative freedom. The members of Foals produced the albums themselves. They tried to avoid narrowing down song structures too early in the process and they built the music in studio from the ground up. That meant once the music was recorded, lead singer and guitarist Yannis Philippakis was left alone to finish lyrics in a dark studio in South London. We talked about how that worked out and what drummer Jack Bevan was up to while Yannis was writing away. Hint: It involved a bike, a lake and France. This is Foals' first album without Walter, their longtime bassist. In this session, you're going to hear Yannis and Jack along with Edwin on Keys and Jimmy on guitar, on some live recordings they did for World Cafe. On 'Part 1', the British band really leans into the stranger side of stadium-sized songwriting. We hear live performances and "making of" stories, including lead singer Yannis' routine of writing lyrics at night while drinking at the pub, and drummer Jack Bevan's journey cycling around lakes in France.

Foals On Writing in Pubs and Cycling Around Lakes

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With A Big Pop Sound And Sticky Turn Of Phrases, The Beths Are Taking Over

The Beths are a rising band in the indie-pop scene, and yes, there is an Elizabeth leading the band. There is also a Jonathan, a Benjamin, and for today's session, a Trystan, for those of you wondering where the harmonies are coming from in this mini-concert. The members of The Beths were studying jazz at Auckland University when they founded the band in 2015. Since releasing their debut EP, 'Warm Blood', the group has attracted much attention and praise, including opening up for Death Cab For Cutie and playing SXSW. Last year, The Beths released their full-length debut, 'Future Me Hates Me'. Despite it's big pop sound on the record, lead singer Liz Stokes can catch you off-guard with a turn of phrase or dig at emotional insecurity with her delivery. You'll hear it all over 'Future Me Hates Me'. Future you will not regret hearing this session though.

With A Big Pop Sound And Sticky Turn Of Phrases, The Beths Are Taking Over

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Catching Up With Citizen Cope

I asked Clarence Greenwood what his 8-year-old daughter thought of his job as a professional musician. He said, "When she was really young, she asked one of her mom's friends why do people stop her daddy?" The joys of parenthood. It's one of many things that's kept Greenwood, better known by his stage name, Citizen Cope, busy over the last seven years. That's the last time he released an album, 2012's 'One Lovely Day'. Cope has always done things his own way, like abandoning major labels in 2010 to found Rainwater Recordings. His latest release is the curiously-titled 'Heroin and Helicopters' and yes, he'll explain the meaning behind that name. The album contains Cope's signature mix of blues, soul and roots music, along with socially conscious lyrics.

Catching Up With Citizen Cope

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Patty Griffin On Restoring Her Voice And Her Soul

Patty Griffin had written only one song for a new album when her breast cancer diagnosis changed everything. The drugs and radiation she took in were so physically depleting that she lost her voice. And although Patty's had a long career in music that includes winning a Grammy, she was left wondering whether she should continue making music at all. Patty wrote songs throughout her cancer treatment and, after getting her voice back, returned to the studio to record them. The result was a self-titled album that was released on March 8. In this session, you'll hear Patty perform some of those songs and we'll talk about the deep reflections and soul-searching they contain, including her choice to focus on her career instead of settling down and having children and how confronting mortality made her question whether she had done enough in her life. We also talk about Patty's childhood in Maine and how waitressing helped her overcome being shy.

Patty Griffin On Restoring Her Voice And Her Soul

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The Cranberries' Last Album Celebrates The Life Of Dolores O'Riordan

The Cranberries were one of the most successful groups to emerge from Ireland. The members, Dolores O'Riordan as lead vocalist, guitarist Noel Hogan, bassist Mike Hogan and drummer Fergal Lawler, were in the studio working on what is now their final studio album when vocalist, O'Riordan died suddenly in January 2018. The band, with the blessing of the O'Riordan family, completed the record as a testament to the work of all members. "You know, she had been recently divorced and she had, you know, been diagnosed with bipolar," Noel Hogan, co-founder of The Cranberries, says. "It just seemed very unfair that when somebody has been through all of this and then had come out the other side, that something like this would happen them. And that's why I think we are really happy that we finished this album for her." Noel Hogan and Fergal Lawler are my guests in this session. We talk about why The Cranberries' music resonated so strongly with fans and celebrate the life of Dolores.

The Cranberries' Last Album Celebrates The Life Of Dolores O'Riordan

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Anna Tivel's Songs Are Mini Movies With Unlikely Stars

On her wonderful new album 'The Question', Anna Tivel zooms in on the kinds of people who don't usually get the red carpet treatment and makes them the stars of her songs. From the janitor sweeping up garbage at the theater late at night to a mother experiencing homelessness, Tivel's characters are so vivid and nuanced that each song could sustain its own feature film. By the end of any given tune, you care deeply about the subject and the singer. Tivel is based in Portland, Oregon, where she works with the local independent Fluff and Gravy Records. She shares why she's so attracted to telling small stories, and how she's built beds and homes in vans and trailers to allow her the solitude and frugality an artist's life often requires. Tivel also stuns with solo performances on acoustic guitar.

Anna Tivel's Songs Are Mini Movies With Unlikely Stars

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Bob Mould Reflects On Albums He Loved As A Youth With 'Sunshine Rock'

We welcome back an influential and iconic musician to the punk and hardcore scene, Bob Mould. Blazing trails in the '80s with Hüsker Dü, in the '90s with Sugar and for the last 25 years, Mould has even had a successful solo career. His latest album, 'Sunshine Rock', is an intentional look away from the politics of now and instead a look back to the albums he love as a youth. He'll talk about all of that and perform songs from different stages of his career in this session.

Bob Mould Reflects On Albums He Loved As A Youth With 'Sunshine Rock'

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Good Times With Guster!

Guster's latest album, 'Look Alive', is a trippy and textured twist on everything you might already love about the band. Lead singer Ryan Miller and drummer Brian Rosenworcel dropped by to talk about the making of the album, which included three producers, Leo Abrahams, John Congleton and Collin DuPuis, as well as a very fruitful visit to synthesizer and keyboard heaven, a.k.a. Canada's National Music Centre. Ryan and Brian muse about the Leonard Cohen vs. Bob Dylan philosophies of music-making, and how after 27 years the members of Guster managed to still surprise their fans, and themselves, with this album. And we take an adventurous trip down memory lane reading from the tour blog Brian has been keeping since 1999.

Good Times With Guster!

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Josh Ritter Performs Stripped Down Versions of 'Fever Breaks'

Twenty years into his career, it's safe to say Josh Ritter is a master songwriter and musician. But while making his latest album, 'Fever Breaks', he felt nervous. Ritter had been making music with generally the same small group of people, The Royal City Band, for most of his career. But this time, he decided to switch it up and have his friend and fellow songwriter Jason Isbell produce the new record. Isbell brought his band the 400 Unit on board, and they headed to the legendary RCA Studio A. That's when the nerves really hit. But, as Ritter explains, "I realized that being afraid in this moment with my songs and nervous about where they should go and how they should is the right thing — this is what I got into this for." 'Fever Breaks' comes out April 26, but in this special session in front of a live audience, Josh Ritter performs stripped-down acoustic versions of his songs just like he did for Isbell and Amanda Shires on their Nashville porch when they were first deciding to work together. Ritter explains how they turned those sessions into the album versions we hear on 'Fever Breaks' and shares a full-circle story about his long musical relationship with Joan Baez and the beautiful, new song it led to. Plus, we talk about his family: Ritter is now a father of two, having adopted his youngest daughter through Wide Horizons for Children.

Josh Ritter Performs Stripped Down Versions of 'Fever Breaks'

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Persian Musicians And A Parisian Monastery: Making Glen Hansard's 'This Wild Willing'

Glen Hansard has a new album, but not the album he initially intended on making. Glen wrote much of the album while staying at a monastery in Paris. The record, titled 'This Wild Willing', was initially supposed to be a simple, acoustic album. But, that changed after a chance jam session with Persian musicians. "It just completely opened my mind to a new thought process," Glen says. "And I asked them instinctively would they be interested in coming to the studio with me to do some improvising and they agreed and I called David, the producer, the next day and I said 'Look, the record is going to take a turn." It did. Glen will also talk about honoring Joni Mitchell, covering Van the Man, and recording with Steve Albini.

Persian Musicians And A Parisian Monastery: Making Glen Hansard's 'This Wild Willing'

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Nilüfer Yanya Has A Very Cool Voice

Rising star Nilüfer Yanya caught so much well-deserved buzz with her first two EPs, it was difficult for her to carve out time to write a full-length debut album. But the Londoner has done it, and her debut, 'Miss Universe', out now, shows off the catchy melodies and grounded guitar playing that first earned Yanya attention, not to mention her unique and stunning voice. Yanya has been writing songs since she was a kid and she explains how an early guitar teacher helped her find the courage to actually sing the songs she was writing herself. She also performs live in-studio with her band.

Nilüfer Yanya Has A Very Cool Voice

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Cautious Clay's Bold Leap

Cautious Clay makes magnetic and cool R&B that features his honeyed voice and his skills on the saxophone. The first instrument he picked up as a kid was the flute, all thanks to a case of mistaken instrument identity that involves the movie "Aladdin". In this session, Joshua Karpeh, who records as Cautious Clay, shares that story, reflects on his decision to leave real estate to pursue music full time, and explains how being raised by a single mom who made her own bold career change when he was growing up inspired Karpeh to take the leap. We talk about some of the exciting opportunities Karpeh has scored, including working with John Mayer out in LA and have his music featured in Issa Rae's HBO show "Insecure". And he delights with live performances from his latest EP, "Table of Context".

Cautious Clay's Bold Leap

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