Putting her glorious pipes to work on Willie Dixon's "I Want To Be Loved," Cassandra Wilson offered a master class in vocal restraint at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium. Where she could have easily reached for the rafters, Wilson chose to follow the song's lead and, instead, slide down into more sultry terrain.
Introduced at the Americana Music Awards as "the hero of outlaw country" by Elizabeth Cook (who surely knows of what she speaks), Sturgill Simpson did his darnedest not to disappoint as he ripped and roared through "Life Of Sin" from his breakthrough album, Metamodern Sounds In Country Music.
Winner of the 2014 Spirit of Americana Free Speech Award, singer-songwriter Jackson Browne demonstrated exactly why the honor was bestowed upon him with a rendering of "The Long Way Around," a cut from his album Standing In The Breach.
The song wraps a melody around a look back at his life and times, touching on gun violence, environmental destruction, income inequality and other issues. But, as he always does, Browne burnishes the politics with poetry.
On this week's episode of World Cafe: Next, hear and download two songs by the Nashville band Humming House. The group's third album, Revelries, features the songwriting of Justin Wade Tam with the addition of vocalist Leslie Rodriguez. Throughout the record, Humming House synthesizes influences from the Celtic and bluegrass worlds to create strong folk songs.
When composer Philip Glass started performing his own music, a lot of people didn't know what to make of it. Some people thought it sounded like the needle of a record was stuck in a groove, repeating over and over again. Some people thought it was simplistic. Some thought it was a joke. Glass says that in the '70s, audience members threw things at him while he was performing.
Vocalist Billie Holiday was born 100 years ago this week. Today, her place in music history is clear.
"I think we witness in Billie Holiday's music the beginning of the jazz vocal age, really," fellow vocalist Cassandra Wilson says. "Her phrasing is very conversational, and it swings â€” it moves with the musicians. She's very much in charge of her place in the music. She's in control of the story, and in control of her cadence."
Violinist Hilary Hahn is known for putting together some unusual programs. On her latest album, she pairs Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 5 in A major with 19th century Belgian composer Henri Vieuxtemps' Violin Concerto No. 4 in D minor.