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Music News

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One of the pioneers of Afro-funk music, the saxophonist Manu Dibango, has died of COVID-19. He was 86 years old, and died in Paris. Internationally, he was best known for his 1972 song "Soul Makossa," though his entire oeuvre could have been the soundtrack to a cooler 1970s than most people lived. But that one, funk-drenched hit, lit by Dibango's burning saxophone, went on to influence the sound of American disco — and its hooky spoken intro helped power songs by Michael Jackson and Rihanna.

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Conor Oberst has kept busy since the last Bright Eyes rec

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Like a fast-moving echo of the pandemic itself, music that confronts coronavirus is multiplying rapidly. A playlist created by Spotify "data alchemist" Glenn McDonald has been tracking songs about the ongoing pandemic, and the resulting daily chart is astounding. More than 400 songs have made the list since McDonald created it two weeks ago.

Ari Leff is better known as Lauv. And he's been quietly gaining fans around the world with his pop music.

Leff has released singles and EPs, garnering billions of streams over the last five years.

He's finally releasing a full album: ~how i'm feeling~, stylized in the lowercase and accompanying tildes that are common in youth Internet parlance.

Updated Fri., April 17 at 8:03 a.m.


Ongoing event cancellations and business closures in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic have thrust artists, music companies and behind-the-scenes entertainment workers into an unprecedented state of financial uncertainty.

Updated Monday, Mar. 30 at 1:37 p.m.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Good morning. I'm Rachel Martin. It's an unlikely anthem for our uncertain times, and it all started with an Instagram monologue.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO)

CARDI B: Coronavirus, coronavirus.

Last Wednesday, Cardi B posted a 46-second video on Instagram, venting her frustrations and fears about the spread of the coronavirus. At the end of the clip, she yells out "Coronavirus! S*** is real! S*** is getting real!"

New York's Metropolitan Opera — the largest performing arts organization in the United States by budget — has laid off all of its union employees for the duration of the coronavirus crisis, NPR has learned. The layoff includes all of the opera's orchestral players, chorus singers and stagehands.

"It definitely feels deeply odd to be thinking about an album rollout at this time," reflects pianist Aaron Parks. "But on the other hand, as a listener and as somebody who's affected by this as well, I know how much I'm needing to get my mind off of this."

Last year, Sons of Kemet were one of the standout acts of the Big Ears Festival in Knoxville, Tenn. This year, the festival is one of countless gatherings that has been cancelled due to concerns about the spread of the coronavirus. For the music industry — and especially for bands like Sons of Kemet, which rely on the energy of live performance — the disruptions caused by social distancing have been devastating. To explain those problems, NPR's Rachel Martin spoke to Nate Chinen from member station WBGO and Jazz Night in America.

With a societal shift away from buying albums, touring has been one of the main ways for musicians to support themselves. But now, as the coronavirus precautions shut down public spaces, clubs and concert halls are empty, the tour buses are parked and artists are trying to figure out how they'll get by in an era of social distancing.

Bandcamp, the digital storefront and streaming music platform used by hundreds of thousands of artists and thousands of record labels, will forgo collecting its share of revenue from sales on the site made this Friday, March 20, the company announced on Tuesday. The initiative will be active from 12:00 a.m. to 11:59 p.m Pacific time.

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Through presidential elections, stock market crashes and, yes, even global pandemics, one thing has remained constant in the public radio world.

The Classist History Behind Bad Bunny's 'Bichiyal'

Mar 17, 2020

When Bad Bunny released his sophomore album YHLQMDLG (an acronym for Yo Hago Lo Que Me Da La Gana, or I Do Whatever I Want) on February 29, he also introduced a new word into the world: bichiyal. It's the title of one of the album's songs—a nostalgic love letter to the old school perreo of the '90s and early 2000s—featuring the veteran reggaetonero Yaviah.

The 21st-century truism that musicians need touring to survive financially in the streaming age has been proven true, brutally, by the COVID-19 outbreak. The shutdown of most venues and festivals has meant a major loss of income for most artists, and the music world is scrambling to come up with ways to ameliorate the crisis.

Updated on June 18 at 1:33 p.m. ET.

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As more festivals, performances and concerts are canceled due to the coronavirus shutdown, musicians of all stripes and sizes are taking to social and streaming platforms to play live for their fans,

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Genesis P-Orridge, the visual, musical and performance artist whose work with Throbbing Gristle and Psychic TV gave rise to the industrial and acid house genres, has died at age 70, after being diagnosed with leukemia two-and-a-half years ago.

On Friday morning, federal prosecutors in Brooklyn, New York filed a superseding indictment against R&B singer R. Kelly. They charged him with nine counts that include racketeering and eight violations of the Mann Act, which prohibits sexual trafficking across state lines.

In this indictment, the prosecutors newly allege that in 2015, Kelly had sex with a girl under the age of 18, and that he gave her herpes without disclosing that he had the disease. In total, the New York federal charges now include six alleged victims, including three girls.

When Jay Electronica dropped "Exhibit C" in late 2009 — first on Sirius Radio, then on New York's Hot 97, before hitting the big time as the pumping music behind The Boondocks' season three trailer — it was absolutely... well, electrifying. After a bidding war, Electronica signed to Jay-Z's company Roc Nation in 2010.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Bad Bunny is having a moment. His new album YHLQMDLG — Yo Hago Lo Que Me Da La Gana or "I Do Whatever I Want" -- debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 album chart, making it the highest charting all-Spanish-language album in history. (The record was previously held by Shakira for 2005's Fijación Oral: Vol. 1, which reached No.

At first, the cancellations came in a trickle.

A performance of the Mozart Requiem in Washington, D.C., Bach's St. Matthew Passion in Seattle. Local jazz nights in New York City.

Then, almost at once, it seemed like the entire March calendars of musicians across the country were wiped clean. Within hours Wednesday, thousands of dollars in expected income vanished.

Concerns over coronavirus are having a deep impact on performing arts and cultural institutions across the United States.

Updated at Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. ET

On Tuesday afternoon, LA Opera — the Los Angeles opera company which came into being in part thanks to Plácido Domingo — announced that investigators had substantiated 10 "inappropriate conduct" claims made against the famed singer.

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