David Dye

As a part of our Sense of Place, South Africa trip, we traveled to Cape Town and recorded the band Freshlyground on their home turf.

The group is led by the energetic and powerful singer Zolani Mahola, and includes members from Mozambique and Zimbabwe as well as South Africa, where Mahola grew up. Mahola talked about what it was like for her to realize how Apartheid impacted her father's life as well as her own, and shared the funny reason she got kicked out of a ska band before joining Freshlyground.

For this Sense Of Place session, we spent some time in South Africa with guitarist and songwriter Johnny Clegg. The visionary musician was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer three years ago, and spent the latter part of 2017 on a world tour he called "The Final Journey." It was a productive three months that also included a new solo album, King of Time. But rather than feature that new material, Clegg performed four of his most beloved songs from yesteryear.

globalFEST has been a staple of the New York City music scene for the last 15 years. The one-night global music showcase spotlights a dozen artists from around the world that even die-hard music fans likely haven't seen with their own two eyes.

McCoy Mrubata was born in 1959 in Cape Town, South Africa. He left school after the 1976 Soweto uprising, first dedicating himself to painting and later to music. Playing the flute and saxophone, he toured alongside Hugh Masekela in the '90s and has led his own bands.

The Secret Sisters (who, yes, are in fact sisters!) are Laura and Lydia Rogers. First signed to Universal Records in 2010, their debut was produced by Dave Cobb and the follow-up was produced in 2014 by T-Bone Burnett. Those are some heavy hitters in the music world: Dave Cobb has made albums with some of Nashville's best artists, including Sturgill Simpson, Jason Isbell and Chris Stapleton, and T-Bone Burnett has worked with everyone from U2 to Alison Krauss and Robert Plant to Elvis Costello.

In this session, we've got Bootsy in the house, baby! Bootsy Collins has a new album, his first in six years, called World Wide Funk. Bootsy grew up in Ohio and turned to the bass as his instrument because his older brother Catfish grabbed the guitar first. The two had a group together, and later became James Brown's backing band, The J.B.'s.

Each August for the last 10 years, World Cafe has recorded bands playing the opening concert of the renowned Philadelphia Folk Festival, which celebrated its 56th edition this year.

In this session, we welcome Holly Macve from the U.K. She was born in Galway, in western Ireland, but moved to Yorkshire as a child. There, she lived with her grandparents, who influenced the title of her debut record, Golden Eagle -- a nickname for her grandfather, who was a classical composer.

Southern California's The Wild Reeds is made up of three singers, each one also a songwriter, who have been combining their voices since they met in college. Each of the women — Kinsey Lee, Sharon Silva and Mackenzie Howe — has a distinctive style, but together they find a way to blend them to create amazing harmonies.

The Infamous Stringdusters' newest album, Laws Of Gravity, admirably demonstrates how these stellar bluegrass players are pushing the music forward.

North Carolina singer-songwriter Tift Merritt arrived at our session with her new daughter, Jean, in tow. Jean's one of at least three new things in her life: She also has a new album, Stitch Of The World, and a new partner in pedal-steel guitarist Eric Heywood.

By the time he was a teenager, Chris Thile was already a bluegrass prodigy on mandolin; he's since evolved into a MacArthur Grant-winning, genre-defying musical genius. Jazz pianist Brad Mehldau is equally revered, as his inventive playing has both the critical establishment and packed concert halls singing his praises.

The British folk-rock band The Levellers was DIY before anyone called it that. It formed in Brighton in 1988, when its members were still squatters, and built a career that, by 1994, had landed the band a gig on the main stage at Glastonbury and a U.S. contract with Elektra Records.

Shirley Collins has been a servant of folk songs — mostly from the U.K., some collected in her native Sussex — throughout her life. Born in 1935, she made some of the most important recordings in British folk and folk-rock through the '60s and '70s. She recorded on her own, with her sister Dolly and then with her second husband, Ashley Hutchings, in The Albion Dance Band.

Don't think for a moment that we didn't struggle as we compiled our list of the best World Cafe interviews and performances of 2016. We had to choose from over 200 sessions we recorded this year in our studio, onstage at World Cafe Live and on our "Sense of Place" travel adventures.

Gillian Welch and David Rawlings got a rare chance to look back at their old music with the release of Boots No. 1: The Official Revival Bootleg, a double-disc album of material from the period when Welch was recording her 1996 debut, Revival.

Josienne Clarke and Ben Walker have been making an impact on the British folk world over the last couple of years. They won the award for Best Duo at the 2015 BBC Folk Awards and released their first LP for Rough Trade Records, Overnight, this fall.

Leif Vollebekk, a singer-songwriter from Montreal, is preparing to release the new album Twin Solitude after a period of extensive touring, including some time soaking in the music scene in Reykjavik, Iceland. Just before this album, Vollebekk put out an EP of covers; he feels he has found his songwriting voice after trying on other artists' styles. Hear two songs from Twin Solitude in the player above.

Water Liars member Justin Peter Kinkel-Schuster delivers a more Southern sound with his new solo endeavor, Constant Stranger, which he recorded entirely on his own in Mississippi. Listen to two songs and download the full segment in the player above.

When John Paul White withdrew in 2014 from The Civil Wars, his country-folk duo with Joy Williams, it seemed to all the world like he'd disappeared.

In October 2014, World Cafe ventured to Lafayette, La., with a camera crew under the direction of filmmaker Robert Mugge, who would turn the trip into the documentary Zydeco Crossroads.

The story goes that when he was 16 years old, Bob Weir met Jerry Garcia, and the Grateful Dead's long, strange trip began. Now, with the forthcoming release of Blue Mountain, Weir's first new solo album since 1978's Heaven Helps The Fool, comes a little pre-Dead history.

Right now, the world's focus is on Rio for the 2016 Olympics. Brazil is on our minds, too, so we've made a weekend playlist filled with international collaborations between Brazilian artists and other musicians from around the globe. These are some extraordinary duets, from bossa nova to tropicalia and beyond. No Olympic competition here — just collaboration!

There was a time when the world of World Cafe and the world of the Grammys only intersected with a few Contemporary Folk nominees. These days, that category doesn't even exist — hello, Americana! — and World Cafe guests like Melbourne's Courtney Barnett are cropping up as nominees across the board.

The imminent release of The Lumineers' second album, Cleopatra, warrants the cliche "long-awaited." It isn't simply the fact that the self-titled debut by the unassuming Denver trio came out almost four years ago (April 2012), but because it was the rare case of a new folk-rock artist making a major impact.

Rhiannon Giddens' ascent began with her beat-box-infused version of Blu Cantrell's "Hit 'Em Up Style" — from Carolina Chocolate Drops' album Genuine Negro Jig — and continued with her show-stealing Gaelic song performance in the concert film Another Day, Another Time. Her take on Bob Dylan lyrics as a member of The New Basement Tapes dazzled.

Joining us in the studio for hour two of Tuesday's World Cafe is the Los Angeles band He's My Brother, She's My Sister. As the name implies, lead vocalists Robert and Rachel Kolar are indeed siblings.

This week's World Cafe: Next artist is the Kansas band Moreland & Arbuckle, whose members play blues-drenched roots-rock. On their fifth album, 7 Cities, they've adopted the loose theme of the explorer Coronado's search for the seven cities of gold — which, not so coincidentally, took the conquistador right into their home territory.

Lissie On World Cafe

Aug 1, 2013

When Lissie stopped by World Cafe for her session about a month ago, she still didn't have a name for her new album. Now titled Back to Forever, the singer's second record is due out Sept. 10; it comes three years after the release of her debut, Catching a Tiger. Lissie's new songs emphasize her observations of the world around her. "Shameless," for example, focuses on what people will do for stardom.

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