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"This is a marvelous thing..."

It was about a year ago when Steve Perry said these words to me towards the end of our conversation for World Cafe. I've thought about the exercise he proposed next many times during the year that followed. So as I say farewell on this, my final day as the host of World Cafe, let's do it together now. It starts, as he told me, with picking a song you love:

Those of us who've dreamed of a Super Bowl halftime show with Lizzo since at least 2017 will just have to wait a while longer. ESPN's Adam Schefter reports Thursday that Super Bowl LIV's halftime show will feature Jennifer Lopez and Shakira — an appropriate pairing for a host city, Miami, known for its rich history with and connection to Latin music.

Let's get the obvious out of the way: If Grateful Dead wordsmith Robert Hunter had never written another lyric after "Truckin'," the rock radio staple off 1970's American Beauty immortalized by the refrain, "what a long strange trip it's been," chances are good that the headline writers of America would still have voted him into their hall of fame. A powerful, all-purpose line that hit the sweet spot of subversive clichés, it made speakers appear smarter than they are.

Updated at 10:07 p.m. EDT

On Tuesday afternoon, at 5:07 p.m., Metropolitan Opera general manager Peter Gelb sent an email to staff that began this way:

"Dear Members of the Company,

Plácido Domingo has agreed to withdraw from all future performances at the Met, with immediate effect. We are grateful to him for recognizing that he needed to step down."

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.


Gloria Gaynor has said she's pretty sure her signature song, the 1978 disco smash "I Will Survive," was created just for her. But the singer had to go through a lot before she and the song found each other.

It was a big day for Spanish artists today in the nominations for the 20th annual Latin Grammys.

The Royal Opera [RO] in the U.K. — one of the most prestigious opera companies in the world — has suspended a star tenor, Vittorio Grigolo, after an incident that allegedly took place last week during the company's performance tour of Japan.

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra is back. Orchestra officials and musicians held a joint news conference Monday, on stage at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, to announce the ratification of a one-year contract that effectively ends a 16-week showdown between the two groups.

"I'm thrilled that an agreement has been reached," BSO music director Marin Alsop said in a statement announcing the new contract, "and that we will have our musicians back on stage to open our 104th season beginning on Friday night."

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Composer Christopher Rouse, who once called himself a writer of "fast and furious" music and who taught courses in the history of rock, died Saturday of complications of renal cancer at age 70.

The other day, I went down to the National Mall here in Washington, D.C., and heard the sound of hope in sweet, strong, young voices.

A youth choir and chamber ensemble from Haiti are on a U.S. tour that's taken them from Maine to Manhattan to Kentucky over the past month. This stop was in a lush garden of the Smithsonian museums. The tour is meant to showcase Haiti's rich musical heritage — and to raise awareness of the country's rebuilding efforts.

My Signature Song: 'Defying Gravity'

Sep 21, 2019

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Kaley Johnson of Fort Worth, Texas, has a dramatic signature song, one so important to her, it's almost part of her identity.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DEFYING GRAVITY")

Grief can feel like a new world emerging, swallowing up the reality you once knew and expanding into something entirely all-consuming. New York rapper Kemba used that monolithic feeling to create his major label debut album, Gilda, a record that pays tribute to his mother who passed away two years ago.

Kemba's mother raised him and his two brothers in The Bronx, N.Y., a place that gave him little choice but to be immersed in hip-hop

Gang Starr is back. After 16 years of silence, the revered duo of Guru and DJ Premier has put out a surprise new single, "Family and Loyalty." The song features posthumous verses from Guru, who passed away in 2010, DJ Premier's trademark string chops and light touch, and an acrobatic verse from J. Cole.

Next Wednesday evening, Plácido Domingo, the opera megastar who has recently been accused of sexual misconduct by 20 women, is scheduled to start a run of performances of Verdi's Macbeth at the most famous opera house in the United States: New York's Metropolitan Opera.

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By and large, 1969 was a transformative year in the U.S.

For many observers of modern jazz, pianist Jason Moran became a known entity 20 years ago, with the release of his debut album. For Adrienne Edwards, curator of performance at the Whitney Museum of American Art, his name first circulated more recently, as a kind of rumor.

As lead singer and guitarist of Alabama Shakes, Brittany Howard has earned her accolades and then some. Since 2009, the band has won four Grammys, performed at the White House and heralded some of roots rock's biggest hits this decade. Still, Howard feels the urge to try something new every few years.

With the ease of uploading music online, Internet sensations are made every day. But for one rising bedroom pop artist, it was truly accidental ... almost.

Until recently, mxmtoon — who otherwise prefers to go by her first name, Maia — kept her music a secret from the people in her immediate life. Now, with her debut album, the masquerade, mxmtoon is slowly peeling back the layers of her online persona.

John Cohen straddled two worlds: as a photographer, he immersed himself in the avant-garde visual arts scene of 1950s New York; as a musician, he was an integral part of that city's folk revival of the same era. He was a member of the seminal New Lost City Ramblers and he used every platform he could — photography, filmmaking, writing and record producing — to preserve and celebrate the music he loved. Cohen died Monday at age 87. His death was announced on social media by his son, Rufus Cohen.

Danny Brown Finds Peace On 'Best Life'

Sep 17, 2019

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In a hip-hop landscape where celebrity is suffocating and fan bases are becoming pressure cookers, it is reassuring that Dan

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Tyler, The Creator's fifth studio album, IGOR, arrived with little notice back in May.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

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.

Updated at 8:15 p.m. Monday

Ric Ocasek, leader of the Boston-based rock band The Cars and an influential music producer, has died, a New York Police Department spokesman confirmed to NPR. He was found unconscious Sunday afternoon at his townhouse in Manhattan. (There is some confusion about Ocasek's exact age: The NYPD said that he was 75; public records list his age as 70.)

Director Ken Burns has told the story of America through the lens of the U.S. Civil War, baseball, jazz and the war in Vietnam. Now, he's telling it again through the soundtrack and the struggle of country music.

The singer and songwriter Eddie Money, whose singles like "Take Me Home Tonight," "Baby Hold On" and "Two Tickets to Paradise" were an archetype for 1970s and 1980s rock radio, died Friday morning in Los Angeles at age 70.

Less than a month ago, Money announced that he had stage IV esophageal cancer, which had metastasized to his liver, lymph nodes and stomach.

The Lumineers have taken their latest album, III, as an opportunity to shine a light on a topic that's close to many of the members' lives — addiction. III tells a story of addiction in three acts. As the album runs from one song to the next, it's a tale of one family facing the same problem. "It's the family secret and it's a taboo," Wes Schultz, the band's lead vocalist, says.

Drummer Jeremiah Fraites says addiction happens in cycles and should be considered that way.

The outsider singer, songwriter and visual artist Daniel Johnston has died. His death was confirmed to NPR by his brother, Dick Johnston, who said that Daniel had just been released on Tuesday from a hospital, where he had been treated for kidney issues. Dick Johnston said that Tuesday night, Daniel had seemed well, but he was found dead at his home in Waller, Texas, near Houston, Wednesday morning. He was 58 years old.

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