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Music News

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(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SPACE ODDITY")

DAVID BOWIE: (Singing) Ground control to Major Tom.

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Copyright 2019 WBEZ Chicago. To see more, visit WBEZ Chicago.

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Updated at 1:44 p.m. ET Saturday

Federal prosecutors in New York and Chicago unsealed sweeping charges against R&B singer R. Kelly on Friday, accusing him of abusing women and girls for nearly two decades, including kidnapping, forced labor and sending child pornography across state lines.

The bombshell indictments, the first federal criminal charges against Kelly, come a day after he was arrested while walking his dog outside his home in Chicago's Trump Tower. He faces a total of 18 federal counts.

Last month, Bon Iver released a pair of new songs — "Hey Ma" and "U (Man Like)" — with little context to surround them.

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.

When Omar al-Bashir was ousted from the Sudanese presidency in April of 2019, there was an explosion of new culture in Sudan. In a country under strict Islamic law, suddenly, graffiti appeared on walls. Music of all kinds blasted from speakers. Men and women commingled openly at a protest camp in front of military headquarters.

Standing as a stark example of these post-military crackdown changes is Capital FM — a popular music radio station that was at the center of the spring's cultural revolution.

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Disney and Beyoncé fans got a surprise last night, ahead of the release of a live-action Lion King reboot, with the release of a new single from the film and pop star, called

Nicki Minaj is known as one of hip-hop's most provocative artists. So it was surprising when she was offered, and that she accepted, the opportunity to headline a July music festival in Saudi Arabia — one of the world's most conservative countries, and one in which no women were permitted to give public concerts until two years ago.

Now, after facing heated criticism from human rights groups, Minaj has pulled out of the July 18 event, citing her commitment to women's rights, the LGBTQ community, and freedom of expression.

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In June, an unusual email arrived in the inbox of an NPR global health correspondent.

From a casual distance, the music of João Gilberto sounds like it might belong to that ancient realm known as "easy listening."

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

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "NEW ATTITUDE")

PATTI LABELLE: (Singing) I've got a new attitude.

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Updated at 9:34 p.m. ET Saturday

João Gilberto, one of the principal architects of the Brazilian musical style bossa nova, has died at his home in Rio de Janeiro, according to a Facebook post by his son. João Marcelo Gilberto wrote that his father, who was 88 years old, died following an undisclosed illness.

Earlier this year, J. Cole sent out a bat signal... sort of. For Dreamville's third compilation album, Revenge of the Dreamers III, the maestro and platinum-selling-with-no-features wordsmith wanted all the features that Atlanta's Tree Sound Studios could hold. So, over the course of 10 days in January, Cole and his team sent out golden-ticket invitations to some of the most intriguing rappers, singers and producers in the hip-hop world.

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

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July 1, 2019 was supposed to be the day that the prestigious music school Westminster Choir College [WCC], in Princeton, N.J., was sold to a for-profit company that is based in Beijing and partly owned by the Chinese government.

The country-pop record company Big Machine Label Group, one of the most successful independent labels in the country — and the longtime label home of megastar Taylor Swift — has been sold. It was purchased by Ithaca Holdings, an umbrella company owned by Scooter Braun, the manager of Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande, among others. According to anonymous sources quoted by The Wall Street Journal, the deal is valued at more than $300 million.

In a statement posted to Twitter on Monday, drummer Janet Weiss announced that she is leaving Sleater-Kinney.

"After intense deliberation and heavy sadness, I have decided to leave Sleater-Kinney," she writes. "The band is heading in a new direction and it is time for me to move on."

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

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Before iPods, before iPhones, there was the Sony Walkman, a little cassette player that revolutionized music. NPR's Brian Jarboe has this appreciation as it turns 40.

Between their formation in 2001 and last album in 2014, guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney released eight LPs as The Black Keys and became household names with songs like "Tighten Up" and "Fever." When the duo took a break from recording and touring after years and years on the road, rumors flew that the two men had had a falling out.

According to the band, the truth is much simpler: "It was about time," Auerbach says. "We needed a little bit of normalcy."

In the world of English-language music, chances are that "new Oasis" means something very different to you than it does to the Spanish-language Internet.

Radiohead's Thom Yorke released his third official solo album, ANIMA, early Thursday morning, along with a short companion film featuring three tracks from the album.

One morning in 2010, a long-awaited piece of mail arrived at Deanna Martinez Neidlinger's home in Tacoma, Washington. It wasn't a Hogwarts letter, but for her three children – aged three, six and nine years old at the time – it might as well have been delivered by owl. Enclosed was a copy of the charity compilation album Jingle Spells 4, which included "Hogwarts Lullaby," a song that the family wrote and recorded together.

"The kids were able to hear themselves on a real-life CD and everything," Martinez Neidlinger remembers. "My three-year-old played the glockenspiel."

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

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June is LGBTQ pride month, and some of the loudest and proudest people in that community are drag queens. Now, drag queens don't have to be gay, but a lot of them are. NPR's Sam Sanders dug into the past, present and especially future of drag.

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.


There's a certain kind of song you just want to crank up after a bad breakup or a rough day at work. In 1963, a young singer renowned for a hit about getting ditched at a party unleashed just such an anthem.

Dave Bartholomew, photographed on January 12, 2013 in New Orleans.
Erika Goldring / Getty Images

Dave Bartholo

Several prominent bands, musicians and artist estates sued the world's largest record company, Universal Music Group [UMG], on Friday after an investigation published by the New York Times earlier this month alleged that hundreds of thousands of master recordings, protection copies, unreleased music and other materials had burned in a massive fire at a UMG vault in 2008.

Quinn Christopherson may be the winner of the 2019 Tiny Desk Contest, but this year's 6,000-plus entries included many outstanding performances.

At the dawn of the 1970s, Mort Garson installed a Moog synthesizer in his Laurel Canyon home studio. In those early days of Moogs, the modular synthesizer was a massive piece of equipment — a dizzying wall of knobs and inputs. "It looked like a switchboard from the 1940s," Garson's daughter Day Darmet remembers. "It was just huge, with all these wires. My mom and I thought that he had really lost it."

The entertainment industry has given us countless tales of romantic pairings that were products of proximity or convenience — on film sets, club stages and world tours, in TV and recording studios — but didn't survive the transplant to other, more mundane settings. Buddy and Julie Miller have lived a different narrative: persevering, continually adapting companionship, in public and private.

One of the most sought-after electronic music artists and producers has died. France's Philippe 'Zdar' Cerboneschi worked with musicians like Kanye West, Daft Punk, the Beastie Boys, Pharrell Williams and the band Phoenix. The Grammy winner accidentally fell through a window of a building in Paris last night; his death was confirmed by his agent, Tom Nettleton. He was 52 years old.

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