It was the middle of the night in 1969. Merry Clayton, a respected back-up singer, receives a call to help the Rolling Stones. Donning her robe and curlers, Clayton trots over to the studio and records the now-famous screaming vocals on “Gimme Shelter.” In three takes. “That is probably the greatest back-up performance of all time … that song has such energy and anger — the screaming voice of Merry,” said Morgan Neville, who directed the Oscar nominated documentary “20 Feet from Stardom.” Clayton is one of the backup singers heavily featured. Continue reading
“Death and the Powers” has been called the future of the opera. Composed by Tod Machover and developed at the MIT Media Lab, this science fiction opera fills the stage with robots alongside actors and combines computers with the sounds of the orchestra. But, as a simulcast, it’s also exploring the world of audience interaction through technology. Continue reading
The Beatles made their live U.S. television debut 50 years ago Sunday when they paraded onto Ed Sullivan’s stage and caused a national eruption of Beatlemania. Continue reading
Peter Yarrow sings a version of Pete Seeger’s “If I had a Hammer” to help remember the legendary folksinger.
Peter Yarrow, a member of the folksinging trio Peter, Paul and Mary, remembers Pete Seeger as a “beacon of what was possible.”
Pete Seeger, the legendary folk musician who helped spearhead the American folk revival, died Monday night in New York City at the age of 94 from natural causes. Across more than seven decades, he inspired scores of singer-songwriters, activists and social movements. Just before his death, he was serenaded in his hospital bed by close friends.
Daft Punk swept the stage Sunday night at the 56th Grammy Awards. The duo took home many of the coveted awards, including record of the year for “Get Lucky” and album of the year for “Random Access Memories.”
But the Grammys weren’t only a show of big name artist and former winners. Lorde, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, and Kacey Musgraves were the featured rising stars last night in the pop, rap, and country music categories respectively.
The Beatles in 1965. Photo courtesy of the Michael Ochs Archive/Corbis
You might be surprised to learn that all of the The Beatles’ BBC performances were not well archived.
In fact, Kevin Howlett, a BBC radio producer and the co-producer of a new Beatles album “On Air: Live at the BBC, Volume Two,” said that they were practically nonexistent.
“I first investigated this material way back at the end 1981 and you could discover all the paperwork related to the Beatles radio programs, what songs they covered, but finding the tapes, that was another matter.”
Howlett recently published a book to accompany the new album, “The Beatles: The BBC Archive” and stopped by the NewsHour to speak with chief arts correspondent Jeffrey Brown about his work.
On Wednesday’s broadcast of the PBS NewsHour, you can watch the full conversation, but for now, a sneak peak: below are some images from Howlett’s book along with quotes from the interview.
The Beatles performing for their 15 part series broadcast called “Pop Go The Beatles” in 1963. Photo courtesy of Getty Images“This is very early days for The Beatles. It’s 1963; they haven’t broken internationally, but they’re gathering momentum in the UK. It’s their breakthrough year and they’re desperately trying to make it and they’ll do anything to appear on the BBC.”
In February 1964, The Beatles jumped in the ring with Mohammed Ali. Photo courtesy of Getty Images“They’re really going for it. There’s no question of going back and doing it again.They have to get it right so you get that wonderful feeling of ‘This is it boys, lights on don’t make a mistake cause it
will go out on air like that.’”
Listen to Traoré play “Sikey.”
Born in Mali to a diplomatic family, Traoré has traveled throughout the world, picking up pieces of herself along the way.
That mix of origins is reflected in her music, which combines African and Western musical styles and languages, creating what she calls, “Malian contemporary music — a mix of a profound Malian culture in which my music and my personality is rooted and also opened to all my influences I had during my travels when I was a child.”
Her new album, “Beautiful Africa,” is an ode to her home continent, but its more than just that.
“Singing about Africa is like singing about myself … it’s like singing about my story,” she said
Traoré was living in Mali during much of the recent troubles, including the Islamic insurgency that, among other things, banned music in the north. But it didn’t stop her from making music and telling her story.
The ballad “Sarama,” partially sung in English, is a tribute to the women in Africa.
“I am amazed by the way they are and the way they face their everyday [lives]. They don’t see themselves as victims. An African woman or a Malian woman or in my village will never complain about her everyday life. She smiles and its just her life and I admire this fact and its a source of inspiration for me, really. ”
Photo by Flickr user Professor Bop
As we quickly approach 2014, we can’t help but reflect on our year at Art Beat. Over the next few days, we’ll be looking back at some of our best stories of 2013, starting with all things music.
From singer and actress Audra McDonald to Trey Anastasio of Phish, we covered a lot of ground. We share few highlights from Art Beat’s music coverage from the last year that we think are a worth a second view — or listen.
Robert Hilburn talks to chief arts correspondent Jeffrey Brown about his new book, “Johnny Cash: The Life.”
“Johnny Cash talked right from the heart,” says Robert Hilburn, longtime former music critic for the Los Angeles Times and author of a new Cash biography. “That was his great gift … that was one of the reasons I wanted to write the book. I wanted someone to be able to understand how important and beloved he was in this time.”
Hilburn was the only music journalist at Cash’s famous 1968 concert at Folsom Prison. And he was the last person to interview the musician with his wife, June Carter Cash, before they each died in 2003. It is with that intimate, long-term knowledge that Hilburn reconstructs Cash’s story in “Johnny Cash: The Life.”
The new biography doesn’t sugar coat the life of Cash — an iconic musician who battled personal demons. In comparison, Hilburn likens “Walk the Line,” the 2005 movie portrayal of Cash and Carter’s romance, starring Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon, to a “fairytale.”
“Johnny Cash: The Life” starts with Cash’s childhood in rural Arkansas, following the “Man in Black” through the death of his older brother, his rise and fall and rise again as an esteemed musician, his battle with addiction, and of course his relationship with June.
Hilburn says he takes readers through the “tawdry” beginning of their romance (“When he finally asked her to marry him, three other women were shocked because they thought he was going to ask them,” he says) and other ups and downs.
But in Hilburn’s eyes, his partnership was at the very heart of what he wanted people to understand.
“That was part of Cash’s message — if you’re always having problems, try to stick with it. Things will be better.”
Watch the broadcast conversation between Robert Hilburn’s and Jeffrey Brown on “Johnny Cash: The Life”. READ MORE