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Noah Caldwell

At the heart of Esperanza Spalding's new album, Songwrights Apothecary Lab (S.A.L.), is a question: "What do you need a song for?" In pursuit of answers, Spalding, a Grammy-winning jazz singer and bassist, assembled a team of more than just other musicians; she created a laboratory of sorts, gathering neuroscientists, psychologists, ethnomusicologists and more. "We are like shipwrights," Spalding says in an interview with NPR's Ailsa Chang. "We build things.

Judges for this year's Tiny Desk Contest waded and watched and debated through thousands of entries, but today we finally have a winner: Her family knows her as Mecca Russell – we'll come to know her as Neffy.

Today "has been absolutely wild," she tells All Thing Considered's Mary Louise Kelly in a conversation this afternoon, following the announcement of the news early this morning. "My mom is bursting at the seams," she says, adding that her parents are "really happy, and that makes me happy."

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When the artist Yolanda Quarterly, now better known as Yola, was just a bump in her mother's belly, she was already bopping to music. Yola's mother was a registered nurse, who used to DJ at a hospital's mental health unit. Disco and soul, sounds Yola would hear before entering the world, would go on to influence her later in life.

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On April 30 of last year, armed militiamen entered the Michigan State Capitol Building looking for Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER: (Yelling) Open the door.

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It's been remarkable to watch singer-songwriter Joy Oladukun's professional success, despite the pandemic: Her music keeps showing up on popular scripted shows like Grey's Anatomy and This Is Us, leading to live performances on late night shows with Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Colbert — all without really leaving her base of Nashville, Tenn.

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On the last episode of Play It Forward, our series in which artists tell us about their own music and the musicians who inspire them, All Things Considered spoke with Angel Bat Dawid, the improvisational musician from Chicago. She told us about her connection to the pioneer of funk: George Clinton.

The first time sociologist Mary de Young heard about QAnon, she thought: "Here we go again."

De Young spent her career studying moral panics — specifically, what became known as the "Satanic Panic" of the 1980s, when false accusations of the abuse of children in satanic rituals spread across the United States.

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Depending on the album, St. Vincent might inhabit a persona. Near-Future cult leader, dominatrix at the mental institution - that's how she's described some of them. On her new album, she's going for a time and place.

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Let's get reaction to the president's plan from someone who has commanded U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Chris Kolenda led troops in combat against the Taliban and then later participated in diplomatic talks with them.

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On the last edition of Play It Forward, All Things Considered's chain of musical gratitude, Devonté Hynes – the English singer-songwriter, producer, director and genre-spanning creative force behind Blood Orange – spoke about experimental jazz artist Angel Bat Dawid's atmospheric track "London."

He came from Saturn, on a mission to spread peace through the power of music — or so Sun Ra claimed. "I'm really not a man, you see. I'm an angel," the legendary bandleader said in an interview in the late 1980s. "If you're an angel, you're a step above man."

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