Studio SessionsMusicians perform and discuss their work in the studios of NPR and NPR Music station partners. Live music sessions, interviews, and the best new songs in rock, pop, folk, classical, jazz, blues, urban, and world music. Watch video sessions.
A Performance Today listener calls in with a song to sing, and pianist Gabriela Montero creates her own improvisation around it, right on the spot. This time, memories of jazz singer Betty Carter inspire the caller to sing "So Many Stars."
After making a name for herself as the wild-haired lead singer of the '80s new-wave band 'Til Tuesday, Mann spent years carving out an iconoclastic career in pop music's margins. Mann's new disc is a collection of holiday songs titled One More Drifter in the Snow.
Even at its mellowest, Twilight Singers' music is driving and intense, with an emotional rawness that's only enhanced by Greg Dulli's unhinged vocals. Dulli remains well-known as the former singer and songwriter of Afghan Whigs.
Twilight Singers in Studio on World Cafe - 12/20/2006
One of the artists at the forefront of the modern folk-music scene, Willy Porter began his career by selling copies of his debut album out of the trunk of his car in 1990. Since then, Porter has juggled labels and flirted with mainstream success, but his music has remained consistently compelling.
It's hard to define Aaron Neville's music — he's been nominated for Grammys in country, R&B, pop and gospel — but it's hard to argue with his success. The third of the four brothers in the New Orleans musical powerhouse Neville Brothers, Aaron has been the most successful Neville when it comes to transitioning to a solo career.
On this summer's Nightcrawler, Yorn crafts what may be his richest, most beautiful set of songs yet. More subdued than his earlier work, the album brings Yorn's warm, breezy pop to the foreground, while overflowing with confidence and personality.
Whether O'Connor is a folk singer with a rock aesthetic or a rocker with folk leanings is ultimately a moot point. The New York City resident crafts music that's honest, accessible and even fun, and on her new album, she seems destined for a breakthrough.
Jennifer O'Connor in Studio on World Cafe - 12/12/2006
The music of Rodrigo Sanchez and Gabriela Quintero attempts to reconcile their love of heavy metal music with their traditional style of Mexican guitar playing. Their self-titled debut combines Sanchez's intricate fingerpicking with Quintero's smooth melodic style — and works wonderfully.
Montero has had a terrific year as a classical pianist: making her debut with the New York Philharmonic, releasing two solo CDs, getting profiled on 60 Minutes. Montero returns for another edition of "Sing It and Wing It," in which she improvises around a song sung by a guest on the phone.
John was one of the most successful musical acts of the '70s, but he's remained in the spotlight ever since, thanks in large part to his versatility. Trafficking in rock, disco, pop, adult-contemporary, soul and even country, John has become an icon.
Robyn Hitchcock's career has played out on his own terms: prolific, odd, uneven and frequently brilliant. Since his early years with The Soft Boys — a late-'70s college-radio staple that helped inspire bands like R.E.M. — Hitchcock has been ahead of his time.
Robyn Hitchcock in Studio on World Cafe - 01/07/2007
As president of her church's youth group, violinist Miran Kim, 16, leads other young people to help the less fortunate. On a recent trip, she played "Amazing Grace" at a barbecue for the homeless and watched the atmosphere change. "It's amazing what music can do; it is relief for the heart and soul." She performs Manuel De Falla's Danse Espagnole.