Ann Powers

Ann Powers is NPR Music's critic and correspondent. She writes for NPR's music news blog, The Record, and she can be heard on NPR's newsmagazines and music programs.

One of the nation's most notable music critics, Powers has been writing for The Record, NPR's blog about finding, making, buying, sharing and talking about music, since April 2011.

Powers served as chief pop music critic at the Los Angeles Times from 2006 until she joined NPR. Prior to the Los Angeles Times, she was senior critic at Blender and senior curator at Experience Music Project. From 1997 to 2001 Powers was a pop critic at The New York Times and before that worked as a senior editor at the Village Voice. Powers began her career working as an editor and columnist at San Francisco Weekly.

Her writing extends beyond blogs, magazines and newspapers. Powers co-wrote Tori Amos: Piece By Piece, with Amos, which was published in 2005. In 1999, Power's book Weird Like Us: My Bohemian America was published. She was the editor, with Evelyn McDonnell, of the 1995 book Rock She Wrote: Women Write About Rock, Rap, and Pop and the editor of Best Music Writing 2010.

After earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in creative writing from San Francisco State University, Powers went on to receive a Master of Arts degree in English from the University of California.

Pages

The Record
1:19 pm
Thu December 11, 2014

The Political Folk Song Of The Year

Alynda Lee Segarra of Hurray for the Riff Raff.
Joshua Shoemaker Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Fri December 12, 2014 9:52 am

When Alynda Lee Segarra of Hurray for the Riff Raff wrote the song "The Body Electric," she knew it would make its way into the world, and hoped its effects would be palpable. Horrified by the rapes that have made tragic news from India to America's college campuses, the singer-songwriter noticed that her own people — music makers and music lovers — would regularly sing along with choruses about killing women, comfortably accepting gender-based violence as part of the ballad tradition.

Read more
All Songs Considered
10:05 am
Mon November 10, 2014

Houndmouth, 'For No One'

Tyler Zoller Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Mon November 10, 2014 10:20 am

Read more
The Record
10:17 am
Wed September 24, 2014

Roots, Plugged In

Jonah Tolchin performs at Grimey's in Nashville during the Americana Music Festival on Sept. 20.
Erika Goldring Getty Images

Originally published on Thu September 25, 2014 10:10 am

When I put Jonah Tolchin's performance at Third Man Records on my schedule for Americana Fest, the annual gathering of roots-minded musicians that took over Nashville last week, I thought I was going to see a young artist playing old-timey music. Earlier this year, the 22-year-old New Jerseyite released an album, Clover Lane, that gently ranges from countryish ballads to uptempo numbers with a country blues feel.

Read more
The Record
8:00 am
Thu September 11, 2014

An Emerging Voice Of Americana (And Oklahoma)

Samantha Lamb Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Thu September 11, 2014 12:50 pm

Read more
First Listen
10:03 pm
Sun August 17, 2014

First Listen: Shovels & Rope, 'Swimmin' Time'

Shovels & Rope's new album, Swimmin' Time, comes out Aug. 26.
Leslie Ryan McKellar Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed August 27, 2014 1:58 pm

It's easy to feel the romance in the musical relationship between Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst.

Read more
First Listen
10:03 pm
Sun June 1, 2014

First Listen: Jose James, 'While You Were Sleeping'

Jose James' new album, While You Were Sleeping, comes out June 10.
Janette Beckman Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue June 10, 2014 11:13 am

When the spirit of Nirvana surfaces in a song, the artist paying tribute almost always shares style points with that treasured band. The hair is shaggy, the clothes a little ragged; the lineage unfolds, relatively neatly, from punk to the present.

Read more
First Listen
10:03 pm
Sun March 23, 2014

First Listen: Nickel Creek, 'A Dotted Line'

Nickel Creek's new album, A Dotted Line, comes out April 1.
Brantley Gutierrez Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue April 1, 2014 1:32 pm

"I think we're more grown-up now, to use an extremely childlike term," the violinist Sara Watkins recently told a reporter who asked what had changed in the eight years since Nickel Creek — the trio of Watkins, guitarist Sean Watkins (her brother) and mandolinist Chris Thile — released a studio album. Watkins' words astutely acknowledged the expectations leveled at the former child prodigies, who wowed bluegrass and country fans with three precocious albums in the early 2000s.

Read more
The Record
10:09 am
Thu January 23, 2014

Hurray For The Riff Raff's New Political Folk

Hurray For The Riff Raff's Alynda Lee Segarra.
Joshua Shoemaker Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Mon February 3, 2014 8:39 am

How many choruses does it take to turn a party song into an engine causing social change? Is it possible to honor American cultural traditions while dismantling the traps and habits that make them restrictive? Every so often a new voice engages these basic questions in subtle, exciting new ways. Alynda Lee Segarra, the 27-year-old guiding light of the New Orleans-based band Hurray For The Riff Raff, is this year's champion.

Read more
The Record
1:13 pm
Wed November 13, 2013

'12 Years A Slave' Is This Year's Best Film About Music

Chiwetel Ejiofor as Solomon Northup in 12 Years a Slave.
Courtesy of Fox Searchlight

Originally published on Tue March 4, 2014 2:02 pm

12 Years a Slave is the most compelling film about music to be released this year, maybe this century. It's so many other things, too, as others have noted: a corrective to the weird cocktail of piety and cartoonishness that Hollywood usually supplies when depicting slavery; a gorgeous art film and an actor's hellish paradise; a cultural highlight of the Obama administration.

Read more
The Record
7:03 am
Fri November 1, 2013

Holding Music History In Your Hands: Why Archives Matter

Ma Rainey Georgia Jazz Band posing for a studio group shot in the mid-1920s, with Thomas A. Dorsey at the piano.
JP Jazz Archive Redferns

Originally published on Fri November 1, 2013 6:23 pm

Read more

Pages