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Vince Pearson

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"Park Hill was a pretty nice environment — the buildings were very clean and they had doormen, intercoms in order to get in the building," recalls Raekwon, the legendary rapper best known as a core member of the canonical Wu-Tang Clan, of some early memories.

A decade ago, jazz icon Tony Bennett and pop superstar Lady Gaga struck up one of the great Odd Couple partnerships in recent music history. Singing together first on his album Duets II, and then on their co- album, Cheek to Cheek, Bennett and Gaga made history on the charts while proving some things never go out of style.

Now, with Love For Sale, Bennett and Gaga are serving up another round but with a poignant twist: It may be Bennet's final album. He's 95, and has been living Alzheimers disease.

Staff and visitors at a Nebraska zoo got a bit of excitement recently when a nearly 5,000-pound rhinoceros named Jontu slipped out of his pen unnoticed.

Workers at Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium found the 13-year-old Indian one-horned rhino behind his barn, calmly munching on grass.

At this time last year, Morning Edition was looking for ways to chronicle, and through that make sense of a moment as dramatic as anything in recent memory. We turned to music almost immediately, and specifically our Song Project — asking musicians to write an original song about their experience of the tumult.

Natasha Cobbs Leonard began singing early, performing "I Believe Children Are Our Future" at a cousin's kindergarten graduation while she was still in grade school, though she had a longer road towards realizing the scope of her now-obvious gift. "After that, I literally did not sing lead in front of a crowd until I was 15 years old."

As a rapper, the Twin Cities-based artist Matt Allen goes by Nur-D – and the name kind of fits. "It's something embedded into my soul," Allen tells Morning Edition. "Comics, Dungeons & Dragons, professional wrestling...."

His positive music has made him one of the most popular artists in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. But, when George Floyd was murdered by a former Minneapolis police officer a year ago this month, Nur-D's life took a new turn.

Mark Ramos Nishita, better known as Money Mark, is 61 and lives in LA surrounded by his massive collection of instruments – guitars and recording gear including more than 70 Casio keyboards. Nishita is sometimes called the "fourth Beastie Boy" for his songwriting and touring work with the group, including keyboard contributions you may recognize from Check Your Head and Ill Communication.

Morning Edition Song Project is the series where songwriters are asked to write an original song about the COVID era. The newest addition is brought by Michael League. He plays all kinds of instruments; he's a producer, too — and the lead of the jazz-fusion group Snarky Puppy.

You might know her as the host of NPR Music's web series, Amplify with Lara Downes, or by her work as a concert pianist – through each, Downes' goal has been to elevate the work of Black artists. Her new project, Rising Sun Music, is something of a combination: Downes will release a mini-album every month, for as long as she can keep it up, to highlight overlooked and forgotten compositions by Black artists in the classical music tradition.

The Morning Edition Song Project, in which musicians compose an original song about the COVID-19 era, returns this week with New Orleans group Tank and the Bangas. When NPR first approached the band over the summer, the pandemic and the George Floyd protests were dominating the news. Asked to compose some music that put her feelings about the words into words, singer Tarriona "Tank" Ball responded with a song simply called "Feelings."

The pandemic, a bad economy, police killings and a fight for racial equality: It's a lot of take in. For some, music has been a way to cope and try to make sense of it all and that is the premise behind the Morning Edition Song Project, in which we asked musicians to write and perform an original song about this moment.

For more than 30 years, Harry Connick Jr. has been putting out music that evokes the legacy of Frank Sinatra and other jazz icons. Now, he's back with a new album, True Love: A Celebration of Cole Porter, and an accompanying Broadway show. NPR's David Greene visited the singer in Hollywood's Capitol Studios, where Connick demonstrated a few Cole Porter classics on the piano and talked about the musician's enduring influence.

Neil Young has easily one of the most recognizable names in American music, and his familiar voice isn't getting quieter with time. He has played with a lot of people over the years: There was Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. But Crazy Horse has outlasted all of them.

Historians and critics have pored over the recordings of these jazz greats like Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Stan Getz so exhaustively, it might feel like they've left no stone unturned. And yet, fans are seeing a slew of exciting new discoveries lately from these and other artists — so-called "lost" albums by some of the biggest names in jazz.

After nearly 50 years, KISS is saying goodbye to touring. The over-the-top purveyors of heavy metal have embarked on a year-long finale tour titled "One Last KISS: End of the Road World Tour." The 105-stop tour spans North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand and will encapsulate KISS' larger-than-life show for the last time.

Sixty years ago, this month, Miles Davis finished recording Kind of Blue, perhaps his greatest masterpiece and still jazz's bestselling album. But it was not the only milestone recorded that year.

From 1991 to 1994, Nirvana was one of the biggest bands in the world with a look and sound that would come to define the decade's music. At the height of this fame, though, bandleader Kurt Cobain sometimes seemed to be an unwilling participant who had just been swept up and carried away by Nirvana's success. Then, after less than four years of meteoric fame, Cobain died of suicide on April 5, 1994. He was 27.

This story is part of American Anthem, a yearlong series on songs that rouse, unite, celebrate and call to action. Find more at NPR.org/Anthem.

It's interesting to read how the members of Beastie Boys came to know each other as teenagers and create the trio's sound. But if the new music memoir Beastie Boys Book aims to answer anything, it's this: Have the Beastie Boys grown up? The answer is sort of.