WBEZ | Music http://www.wbez.org/tags/music Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Music Program Teaches About the Civil Rights Movement http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2016-02-12/music-program-teaches-about-civil-rights-movement-114838 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Music-Eddie Welker-Flickr.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Sometimes teaching and learning about history can be a little dry. Teachers reach for new ways to capture students&rsquo; attention.</p><p>A new program in some Chicago Public Schools uses the music of the 1960s and &lsquo;70s to talk about the social justice movements that really defined the decades. Jeanne Warsaw-Gazga started Me-Ma Music, Motivate and Encourage Music Appreciation, after working for many years in the music industry. She explains why she thought it was needed and how it&rsquo;s growing.</p></p> Fri, 12 Feb 2016 15:27:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2016-02-12/music-program-teaches-about-civil-rights-movement-114838 A Group of Writers Listening to Kanye, Awaiting SWISH http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/group-writers-listening-kanye-awaiting-swish-114732 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/495178202_wide-94564255585b0c0051bcae7b8cafeef65a768652-s800-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res463714006" previewtitle="Kanye West at LAX in October, looking like us."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Kanye West at LAX in October, looking like us." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2016/01/20/495178202_wide-94564255585b0c0051bcae7b8cafeef65a768652-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 348px; width: 620px;" title="Kanye West at LAX in October, looking like us. (GVK/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)" /></div><div><div><p>Maybe we have jumped the gun. We very badly want G.O.O.D. Fridays back (<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/microphonecheck/2015/12/22/460643218/pusha-t-this-is-what-i-like-to-make" target="_blank">we&#39;re not alone</a>). Surprise releases are fun and everything, but the build of a month(s)-long stretch is better. We would like to talk about music together, and not only by collectively spazzing out and crashing Livemixtapes. We would like to Monday morning quarterback the art and announcement punctuation and where we heard it over the weekend and the context and the song itself. We&#39;d like to compare this week&#39;s offering to the last couple and use all that to debate the emotional state and practical concerns of Kanye and us and try to divine, somehow, where all this is going. The Internet wasn&#39;t quite what it is now the last time this happened, and we&#39;re thinking about how that changes our coverage. So here we are, weighing in, doing our best to do our part as listeners and readers and thinkers, even though it&#39;s not real clear if #EveryFriday means G.O.O.D. Fridays Part Deux or not.</p></div></div></div><p>Definitely we are not dealing with the clockwork delivery and full team effort of the fourth quarter of 2010. Sample email from my inbox: &quot;Hope you&#39;ve had an enjoyable weekend! It seems Kanye is still enjoying his since there&#39;s still not a new track.&quot; And Kanye talking that &quot;<a href="https://twitter.com/kanyewest/status/688973542524719104" target="_blank">very very extremely soon</a>&quot; business but not really being done for another six hours, tweeting only &quot;It&#39;s up&quot; when the full version of &quot;No More Parties in L.A.&quot; went public on Soundcloud, resurrected all my old blown deadline, high school term paper overnighter, the news that Michael Jackson died hit at 5:20 pm ET stress like here, take it, I think it&#39;s done, who knows what it says. The only time I&#39;ve ever felt closer to Ye was when he tweeted about waking up on a plane and finding himself responsible for a water bottle he didn&#39;t even ask for.</p><p>The responses of the writers below have in common enthusiasm for the project ofSWISH&nbsp;and the artist that Kanye is. Frustration is often present. The relief at his recovery from &quot;FACTS&quot; is strong, strong enough to intensify the warmth of this group&#39;s embrace of &quot;No More Parties in L.A.&quot; In my opinion. This is a line of conversation we&#39;d like to have the opportunity to follow over the next few weeks: What are these songs on their own? What are these songs in relation to each other? As part of the lead up to an album? To this album? What are these songs because of Kim&#39;s Twitter life? What are they while Future and Drake and Metro and Esco and Kendrick and Cole and Travis and Adele and Soulection and Bieber and The Weeknd and Chris Stapleton are doing their thing?</p><p>We&#39;ll collect reactions as we proceed; we&#39;ll keep them all here. Everybody can change their mind. Everybody is free to be disappointed. Nobody is allowed to give up. We&#39;re at&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/nprhiphop" target="_blank">@NPRHipHop</a>&nbsp;if you&#39;d like to get involved.</p><div><hr /></div><p><span style="font-size:18px;"><strong>&quot;<a href="https://soundcloud.com/kanyewest/facts-explicit" target="_blank">FACTS</a>&quot;</strong></span></p><p>He should&#39;ve just titled this &quot;Jumpman 2.0,&quot; or called it a remix, because what else is it? If he had I don&#39;t think I would be this annoyed. West, boastfully and brashly, takes digs at Nike for the failed collaboration he shared with the corporation before heading to Adidas. He has a point, seeing that the President now rocks Yeezys, but it&#39;s almost too much. To calm my nerves, three weeks after its release, I imagine Ye and the usual suspects getting all excited when out, leaving &quot;Jumpman&quot; on repeat and deciding to throw something together in time for New Years. I refuse to take this seriously. &mdash;<em><a href="https://twitter.com/3rika" target="_blank">Erika Ramirez</a></em></p><p>On New Year&#39;s Eve before the ball dropped and Yeezy was preparing to drop this song I was racked with anticipation. New Kanye music, something we&#39;ve been waiting for ALL YEAR (remember we thought the album was coming last February). What I heard on first listen disappointed me. I listened a second time just to make sure my ears weren&#39;t deceiving me, but my initial reaction was spot on: Kanye was chasing Drake and Future&#39;s sound. I was heartbroken. Not Ye, not the innovator&#39;s innovator. If Kanye&#39;s new album is going to sound like this then we&#39;ve finally lost him. <em>&mdash;<a href="https://twitter.com/nprhiphop" target="_blank">Cedric Shine</a></em></p><p>So ... no comment on &quot;Facts.&quot; (Mostly because I&#39;d rather not listen to it more than once, if I can help it.) <em>&mdash;<a href="https://twitter.com/KianaFitz" target="_blank">Kiana Fitzgerald</a></em></p><p>&quot;Facts&quot; is real petty. The last song of 2015, it was appropriately dropped at the end of a year of fraudulence (&quot;Back to Back,&quot; the dress meme, Zola&#39;s story and Rachel Dolezal). On &quot;Facts&quot; Kanye canvases for the #clapback throne in his campaign for 2020 Presidency. Of course, Ye&#39;s Nike diss couldn&#39;t go without mentioning Drake. Lucky for Drizzy, Ye generously gave him a gentle slap on the wrist by mocking his Canadian cadence while simultaneously wishing him well on his venture with the company. Kanye reminds us that he stands on the backs of giants (and Kim&#39;s empire), while junior artists are left in his shadow. &mdash;<a href="https://twitter.com/nellienooks" target="_blank">Chanelle Adams</a></p><p>The Internet all but had a public burial for Kanye West going into the new year when he dropped this obviously &quot;Jumpman&quot;-inspired song. It was a weird outcry considering that 1) people actually thought that&#39;d be his only musical identity going forward with&nbsp;SWISH&nbsp;and 2) that the track will even make the cut. <em>&mdash;<a href="https://twitter.com/TrueLaurels" target="_blank">Lawrence Burney</a></em></p><p>I think it&#39;s really cute when toddlers dab. &mdash;<em><a href="http://www.npr.org/people/184760074/frannie-kelley" target="_blank">Frannie Kelley</a></em></p><div><hr /></div><p><span style="font-size:18px;"><strong>&quot;<a href="https://soundcloud.com/kanyewest/real-friends-no-more-parties-in-la-snipped" target="_blank">REAL FRIENDS</a>&quot;</strong></span></p><p>&quot;Real Friends&quot; is reminiscent of the vulnerable, introspective&nbsp;Graduation&nbsp;verses that secured my love for Kanye forever. An artist that has always struggled with being misunderstood, Kanye opens up yet again to share his more intimate sentiments. For the first time Kanye sounds tired. As he croons about his struggle to find genuine friendship amidst success and fame, he shares a level of loneliness and work ethic that can only be described as that of a mad scientist or lonely suburban dad. &quot;Real Friends&quot; is a confessional phone call at 3AM, a more sophisticated &quot;Hotline Bling.&quot; As he starts his own family, he makes us aware of how far he&#39;s come from the days of&nbsp;College Dropout, a time when he would have never been called a &quot;deadbeat cousin.&quot; On the grind for decades now, Ye&#39;s put work before all else and now it&#39;s catching up to him. <em>&mdash;Chanelle Adams</em></p><p>This one had me scrambling to find a surviving link after its convoluted rollout. On the second release in the second coming of G.O.O.D. Friday, Ye and Ty Dolla $ign vent and advise on the most effective and least affective ways to address soured relationships, low-key two-stepping through a space that reminds me of the gently introspective &quot;Heard &#39;Em Say.&quot; As he categorizes loved ones into silos of family, foe or frenemy, Mr. West reminds us yet again of the hard-knock life of a rap supernova. &mdash;<em>Kiana Fitzgerald</em></p><p>You know what that is that you feel when you listen to &quot;Real Friends&quot;? Hope. With this song Kanye West rekindles our longing for the portion of his work in which he rapped honestly, sugar free, over lush production laced with soul samples. Think of &quot;Wedding Dress,&quot; &quot;Gorgeous&quot; (the majority of&nbsp;My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, really) and, of course,&nbsp;College Dropout. &quot;Real Friends&quot; is just that, on which Ye, alongside the harmonious Ty Dolla $ign, check the loyalty of their real to so-called friends and tell it how it is. This is the Kanye West I love: brutally straightforward, heavy and true to life. It almost makes me forget &quot;Facts&quot; exists. Almost. &mdash;<em>Erika Ramirez</em></p><p>Kanye West doesn&#39;t care about us; he never has&mdash;at least not past our ability to magnify his own sense of purpose. We, the audience, have always been surrogates for his sometimes righteous rage, lenses through which he can see and project himself. It&#39;s great that he comes close to admitting as much in &quot;Real Friends.&quot; He cares enough to take pictures with your sister, but not enough to engage us about this series, instead empowering Kim Kardashian West to speak on his behalf, as if anyone ever wants to hear her talk about &quot;bars,&quot; ever. It&#39;s the civil distance through which we engage our exes once we&#39;re done with them, because, as KKW tweeted, he&#39;s focused on dealing with Adidas in Italy. &quot;I can&#39;t be bothered,&quot; he raps. &quot;I&#39;m just doin&#39; my thing / Hope you&#39;re doin&#39; your thing, too.&quot; We get it, bruh. You can keep the toothbrush and the T-shirt. &mdash;<em><a href="https://twitter.com/fullmetallotus" target="_blank">kris ex</a></em></p><p>I think I admire Kanye&#39;s heart the most. Next to Ty his voice is thin, but he&#39;s always saying more. He has more skin in the game. The tone of this song is closest to the weather I&#39;ve been in recently&mdash;ignorantly cold, then artlessly warm, damp everywhere&mdash;kind of paranoid, probably should be regretful but can&#39;t summon it, fine being destabilized, gotta get up and go to work anyway type of vibe. This is the Kanye mood music that I needed. &mdash;<em>Frannie Kelley</em></p><div><hr /></div><p><span style="font-size:18px;"><strong>&quot;<a href="https://soundcloud.com/kanyewest/nomorepartiesinla" target="_blank">NO MORE PARTIES IN L.A.</a>&quot;</strong></span></p><p>This is the closest to what Ye-purists have been begging for over the majority of this decade: Kanye getting back to his sonic roots. He&#39;s still unapologetically black, concerned with his family life (dressing Nori like Cam) and existing on his own terms. &mdash;<em>Lawrence Burney</em></p><p>Was this the official soundtrack to the iconic 2012 moment when Kanye threw out most of Kim&#39;s wardrobe on&nbsp;Keeping Up With The Kardashians? I really hope so. It was Kim, acting like she&#39;s in some capacity A&amp;Ring the album, who assured fans that &quot;Noah&quot; was flown out to Italy to finish the track with Ye. Ever since Kendrick revealed his questionable racial politics and came out with an exaggerated voice production on &quot;Alright&quot; that made him sound like a rapping Bob Dylan, I&#39;m not really a fan of Kendrick. Madlib&#39;s beat from 2010 leads me to believe this album will hold fewer radical &quot;<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xuhl6Ji5zHM" target="_blank">Black Skinhead</a>s&quot; and more&nbsp;808s and Heartbreaks, with the added ingredients of love and fatherhood. &mdash;<em>Chanelle Adams</em></p><p>Something unusual here: Kanye actually shows K. Dot up. (Still, they sound so damn good next to each other.) Admittedly, some of that has nothing to do with Kendrick&mdash;it&#39;s the circumstances. His brief appearance versus Ye&#39;s #90bars; Ye&#39;s penetrating voice versus his overworked one. Also, this beat was just made for Kanye, and he owns it: &quot;I know some fans thought I wouldn&#39;t rap like this again / But the writer&#39;s block is over, emcees cancel your plans.&quot; There you are, Yeezy. <em>&mdash;Kiana Fitzgerald</em></p><p>I forgive Kanye West for &quot;FACTS.&quot; What is &quot;FACTS&quot; even? I forgive him for still not releasing an official CDQ of &quot;Wolves.&quot; I forgive everything now that I have &quot;No More Parties in L.A.&quot; The third song from the second installment of G.O.O.D. Fridays is Kanye West and Kendrick Lamar&#39;s first collaboration ever, and it&#39;s one for the books. It&#39;s luscious. The song is produced by Madlib (who flips Junie Morrison&#39;s &quot;Suzie Thundertussy&quot; and Ghostface Killah&#39;s &quot;Mighty Healthy&quot;), and features a few lines that Ye&nbsp;<a href="http://www.rollingstone.com/music/videos/kanye-west-talks-dilla-creating-wrong-music-in-stones-throw-doc-20140528" target="_blank">debuted in a Stones Throw documentary</a>. Perhaps the beat is one from the stash that Madlib produced for Ye during the&nbsp;MBDTF&nbsp;days, none of which made the cut. On &quot;No More Parties in L.A.,&quot; Ye is hungry and aware, and it&#39;s palpable. As I currently listen to &quot;No More Parties in LA,&quot; I&#39;m not even thinking about the Kardashians. I&#39;m trying to figure out which of Ye&#39;s cousins stole his laptop. <em>&mdash;Erika Ramirez</em></p><p>Real rap signifiers everywhere, including an unnecessary percentage of all those bars devoted to women at fault. Kendrick and Kanye feel far away from each other, reminding me of their dynamic in that&nbsp;New York Times Magazine&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/29/magazine/kendrick-lamar-hip-hops-newest-old-school-star.html?_r=0" target="_blank">profile</a>&nbsp;from the Yeezus tour, and then the 38-year-old 8-year-old comes out on top. I wish Ye saying he&#39;s got a psychiatrist would destigmatize therapy. I really loved&nbsp;Yeezus, so I&#39;m not rooting for a return to form. If he&#39;s gonna do this&mdash;be the anxiety-baring Ye on record, represent himself as the moody father of very young children who&#39;s got car troubles and distractions&mdash;I need him to give me more than I can get from KUWTK or&nbsp;Late Registration. <em>&mdash;Frannie Kelley</em></p><p>This is the climax of anti-climax. The vocal mix makes it sound like a radio freestyle&mdash;and it would be great were it a radio freestyle. Kendrick&#39;s bars are astounding acts of rhyme that poke fun of lyrical/spiritual/miracle tropes with a side of Cap&#39;n Crunch cereal and a Nichiren Buddhist mantra. Next to them Kanye sounds labored and trying too hard. But over-effort has always been intrinsic to his appeal, and here he&#39;s urgently dropping lines only he can: shouting out E!, forgiving his cousin that stole his laptop, expressing understandable concern for the safety of his camera-famous family. It&#39;s the Kanye we haven&#39;t heard in a minute, but this isn&#39;t on par with the end of the weeks that brought us the &quot;Power&quot; remix, &quot;Monster&quot; and &quot;So Appalled.&quot; It&#39;s exciting by diminished expectations. Facts, only. <em>&mdash;kris ex</em></p><p>I liked &quot;No More Parties&quot; better when we just had the snippet.&nbsp;<em>&mdash;Cedric Shine</em></p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/therecord/2016/01/20/463708964/a-group-of-writers-listening-to-kanye-awaiting-swish?ft=nprml&amp;f=463708964"><em>via NPR</em></a></p></p> Fri, 05 Feb 2016 14:41:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/group-writers-listening-kanye-awaiting-swish-114732 Theft and Artistry: Coldplay, Beyoncé in India Spark Discussion on Appropriation http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/theft-and-artistry-coldplay-beyonc%C3%A9-india-spark-discussion-appropriation-114756 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/beyonce-video-a18c184763e3c9d31b4c5d5ffeb27da58b02d5eb-s800-c85.png" alt="" /><p><p>Here&#39;s what we know: Coldplay and Beyoncé will perform at Sunday&#39;s Super Bowl halftime. The duo just released a song called &quot;Hymn for the Weekend.&quot;</p><p>But they won&#39;t be performing it &mdash; because it&#39;s too new, according to the band. &quot;I don&#39;t think it would be quite right,&quot; said frontman Chris Martin,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.oregonlive.com/nfl/index.ssf/2016/02/what_will_coldplay_sing_at_sup.html">according to The Associated Press.</a></p><p>The decision comes as the song&#39;s music video has ignited a heated debate about cultural appropriation. The video, which uses India as a backdrop, has drawn a focus on where we draw the line between what&#39;s acceptable and what&#39;s offensive.</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="435" scrolling="no" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/YykjpeuMNEk" width="620"></iframe></p><p>Recently, the debate over cultural appropriation hasn&#39;t been very hard to find. Just look at&nbsp;<a href="http://www.billboard.com/charts/hot-100">the top of the pop charts</a>, right now. At No. 2 on the Hot 100 is Justin Bieber&#39;s &quot;Sorry,&quot;&nbsp;a song that takes inspiration from Latin-American&nbsp;reggaeton.</p><p>Bieber dropped that single in October, and just as quickly &mdash; and thousands of miles away in Chile &mdash;&nbsp;<a href="http://pousta.com/reggaeton-justin-bieber/">a blogger called him out on it</a>.</p><p>&quot;The new single by Bieber is a tutorial from Skrillex on how to make reggaeton for white people,&quot; Maximiliano Jimenez wrote.</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="435" scrolling="no" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/fRh_vgS2dFE" width="620"></iframe></p><p>Jimenez runs a runs the pop culture site&nbsp;<a href="http://pousta.com/">Pousta</a>&nbsp;and he said the song is a type of cultural colonialism.</p><p>&quot;The music business sees Latin America and this kind of music as an inspiration to make more money,&quot; he said.</p><p>Greg Tate, a musician who wrote a book about appropriation titled&nbsp;Everything But the Burden,&nbsp;says it&#39;s more complicated than that.</p><p>He says there is a key tension in any conversation about appropriation: First there is an artists&#39; desire to receive credit for their work &mdash; whether monetarily or artistically &mdash; and then there&#39;s the fundamental relationship between art and theft.</p><p>&quot;Your training as an artist is essentially about impersonation, imitation,&quot; he said. &quot;You learn to get better by kind of borrowing or adapting or training yourself in the way of the people who came before you.&quot;</p><p>In a lot of ways, that&#39;s why we keep having this conversation. We had it in the &#39;60s when George Harrison included a sitar in&nbsp;Norwegian Wood.</p><p>And then 20 years later, Paul Simon released&nbsp;Graceland,&nbsp;a lush album in which Simon reworked South African songs.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/2012/09/03/160394864/paul-simon-on-making-graceland">In an interview with World Cafe</a>&nbsp;in 2012, Simon said that his intention wasn&#39;t to document the plight of black South Africans suffering under the oppression of Apartheid. It wasn&#39;t even to bring their music to the Western world. Instead, he said, wanted to make a good album.</p><p>&quot;My idea was, they play their best, I&#39;m going to play my best,&quot; he said. &quot;And that was my way of saying that I thought that they were extraordinary.&quot;</p><p>At the time many of the black musicians who played and sang on the album said they were happy with the collaboration in part because it had brought South African music to the global stage.</p><p>The legendary South African musician Jonas Gwangwa was one of the few dissenters.<a href="http://www.theguardian.com/music/2012/apr/19/paul-simon-graceland-acclaim-outrage">As The Guardian tells it</a>, when he heard someone praise Simon for shining a spotlight on South African music he replied: &quot;So, it has taken another white man to discover my people.&quot;</p><p>Since then, there have been many more examples. From the obvious:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.theroot.com/blogs/the_grapevine/2014/07/katy_the_queen_of_cultural_appropriation_perry_is_at_it_again.html">Katy Perry in cornrows</a>&nbsp;and a Taylor Swift video&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2015/09/01/436653602/taylor-swift-is-dreaming-of-a-very-white-africa">filmed in an entirely white Africa</a>. To the more complicated: Shakira, a Latina of Arabic descent,&nbsp;<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5BzkbSq7pww">belly dancing</a>&nbsp;and Macklemore acknowledging the theft of black culture&nbsp;<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y_rl4ZGdy34">in a nine-minute song</a>&nbsp;that exploits the very thing he&#39;s railing against.</p><p>Nitasha Tamar Sharma, a professor at Northwestern University who studies hip-hop, says she&#39;s not that interested in talking about when appropriation is right or wrong. She&#39;s not really interested in talking about why Eminem is controversial but Adele, who borrows from the tradition of soul, is not. She said ultimately what she thinks is important is the effect that thoughtless appropriation &mdash; perpetrated by a white person or a person of color &mdash; has beyond culture.</p><p>When we&#39;re presented with caricatures of other cultures, she says, it&#39;s easier for people to view them as sub-human. It&#39;s easier to pass unfair economic policies, for example, or even to start a war.</p><p>&quot;I think when people of color and dominated groups just become a backdrop with no voice and context, no humanity,&quot; she said, &quot;I think that&#39;s the problem.&quot;</p><p>That&#39;s what the video that goes along with Bieber track accomplishes she said.</p><p>&quot;For the most part, [the women] are just props: scores and scores of generally undifferentiated women,&quot; she said. The message he&#39;s sending is that &quot;he is drawing from Black and Brown cultural formation (with the track and the dances) absent the full presence of Black and Brown people and can do it just as good as they can.&quot;</p><p>Sharma said the same can be said of the Coldplay and Beyoncé song. Indian culture, she said, is presented with the same old stereotypes and it is relegated to a background.</p><p>Tate, the musician, has a much similar criticism of the song.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s just seems so damn corporate,&quot; he said. &quot;Something that a Duran Duran might&#39;ve done in 1985 and that just makes it mediocre.&quot;</p><p>However, Tate said, the discussion on appropriation is necessarily subjective, so he chooses to subscribe to the wise words of Public Enemy&#39;s Hank Schocklee.</p><p>&quot;He said the only question that matters is whether or not it&#39;s dope,&quot; Tate said. &quot;They may be offended but at the same time, they&#39;ll just have to admit you made something that works.&quot;</p><p>The bottom line, he said, is that the Coldplay/Beyoncé collaboration is not dope.</p><p><a href="http://www.npr.org/2016/02/06/465622102/theft-and-artistry-coldplay-beyonc-in-india-spark-discussion-on-appropriation?ft=nprml&amp;f=465622102"><em>&mdash; via NPR</em></a></p></p> Fri, 05 Feb 2016 12:23:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/theft-and-artistry-coldplay-beyonc%C3%A9-india-spark-discussion-appropriation-114756 Live Band: Au Pair http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2016-02-11/live-band-au-pair-114808 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Au Pair.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The musicians Gary Louris and Django Haskins bonded over a mutual love of the 1970s power-pop band Big Star. They were both performing at a tribute to that influential group and eventually, they formed a group of their own called Au Pair.</p><p>Louris is a founding member of the alternative country groups: The Jayhawks. Haskins is the frontman for the band The Old Ceremony, which has been described as &ldquo;pop noir.&rdquo;</p><p>Their album &ldquo;One Armed Candy Bear&rdquo; -- released late last year -- is power pop with more than a few twists and turns.</p></p> Fri, 05 Feb 2016 08:59:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2016-02-11/live-band-au-pair-114808 Earth, Wind & Fire Founder Maurice White Dead at 74 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/earth-wind-fire-founder-maurice-white-dead-74-114715 <p><p>NEW YORK (AP) &mdash;&nbsp;Earth,&nbsp;Wind&nbsp;&amp;&nbsp;Fire&nbsp;founder Maurice White, whose horn-driven band sold more than 90 million albums and made hits like &quot;September,&quot; &#39;&#39;Shining Star&quot; and &quot;Boogie Wonderland,&quot; died Wednesday at his home in Los Angeles, his brother Verdine said.</p><p>White, who was 74, suffered from Parkinson&#39;s Disease and had retreated from the public even as the band he founded kept performing.</p><p>&quot;My brother, hero and best friend Maurice White passed away peacefully last night in his sleep,&quot; Verdine White, also a member of the band, told The Associated Press on Thursday. &quot;While the world has lost another great musician and legend, our family asks that our privacy is respected as we start what will be a very difficult and life changing transition in our lives. Thank you for your prayers and well wishes.&quot;</p><p>Earth,&nbsp;Wind&nbsp;&amp;&nbsp;Fire, a nine-piece band centered featuring the two White brothers, singer Philip Bailey and the distinctive horn section, were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000. The band&#39;s most successful period started with the 1975 album &quot;That&#39;s The Way of The World&quot; and continued through the rest of the decade. Other hits included &quot;Serpentine&nbsp;Fire,&quot; &#39;&#39;That&#39;s the Way of the World&quot; and a cover of the Beatles&#39; &quot;Got to Get You Into My Life.&quot;</p><p>White publicly revealed he had Parkinson&#39;s at the time of the band&#39;s Hall of Fame induction, but he had shown symptoms of the neurological disease back in the 1980s. He stopped touring with the band in 1995 because of weariness from the road combined with his health problems.</p><p>White said in an interview with The Associated Press in 2000 that he wanted the band&#39;s music to inspire instead of just entertain.</p><p>&quot;That was the whole objective, to try to inspire young people to believe in themselves and to follow through on their ideas,&quot; he said. &quot;We&#39;ve touched so many people with these songs.&quot;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP_00030601297.jpg" style="height: 409px; width: 620px;" title="Members of Earth, Wind &amp; Fire surround the band's leader and founder Maurice White, center. The band, which rose to prominence in the Seventies, solidified the growth of black album music as it brought together the earlier sounds of jazz, blues, R&amp;B, pop, gospel, funk and deep soul. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)" /></div><p>A former session drummer, White founded the band Salty Peppers in the Chicago area in the late 1960s and had some modest success in the Midwest. After relocating to Los Angeles and ditching all of the band members except Verdine, he renamed the outfit&nbsp;Earth,&nbsp;Wind&nbsp;&amp;&nbsp;Fire&nbsp;after the three elements in his astrological chart.</p><p>Bailey&#39;s bright falsetto defined many of&nbsp;Earth,&nbsp;Wind&nbsp;&amp;&nbsp;Fire&#39;s&nbsp;hits. &quot;We experienced pure magic together,&quot; Bailey said during the band&#39;s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction, standing next to White.</p><p>The band&#39;s early sound was jazzy, but evolved into an exuberant, horn-driven mix of jazz, funk, gospel and Big Band music. Their appeal wasn&#39;t just on records but on stage, their concerts a whirl of dancing, fog machines, multi-colored lights and glittery costumes.&nbsp;Earth,&nbsp;Wind&nbsp;&amp;&nbsp;Fire&nbsp;performed everywhere from the Super Bowl to the White House.</p><p>Maurice White also had a substantial side career producing other artists, including Barbra Streisand and Cher. In the 1970s, he co-wrote and co-produced the Emotions&#39; No. 1 hit &quot;Best of My Love.&quot;</p><p>White was born in Memphis in 1941, the son of a doctor and grandson of a New Orleans piano player. He showed musical gifts at an early age, studying at the Chicago Conservancy. During the 1960s, he backed Muddy Waters, the Impressions and others and worked as a session drummer in Chicago.</p><p>The band performed in the movie, &quot;Sgt. Pepper&#39;s Lonely Hearts Club Band&quot; and had hits with the ballad &quot;After the Love Has Gone,&quot; &#39;&#39;All &#39;n&#39; All,&quot; &#39;&#39;Let&#39;s Groove&quot; and &quot;Fall in Love With Me.&quot; The band took a four-year hiatus in the 1980s and then returned, its primary success then on the road.</p><p>&quot;We live in a negative society,&quot; White told Newsweek at the height of the band&#39;s success. &quot;Most people can&#39;t see beauty and love. I see our music as medicine.&quot;</p></p> Thu, 04 Feb 2016 17:29:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/earth-wind-fire-founder-maurice-white-dead-74-114715 Hey Marseilles Brings New Sound With New Album http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2016-02-04/hey-marseilles-brings-new-sound-new-album-114703 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Hey Marseilles-Flickr-ianmckay.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">Not many bands eight years into a career would be willing-or have the guts-to step back, reassess their sound, and take a new approach to recording and performing. But that&rsquo;s exactly what happened to Hey Marseilles.</p><p dir="ltr">The group is releasing their latest album and even though this is their third album, it&rsquo;s self-titled because in many ways it feels like they&#39;re announcing themselves to the world for the first time. Hey Marseilles joins us in the studio to share their new sound.</p></p> Thu, 04 Feb 2016 13:50:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2016-02-04/hey-marseilles-brings-new-sound-new-album-114703 Reclaimed Soul: Motown Records’ Best Kept Secrets http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2016-01-20/reclaimed-soul-motown-records%E2%80%99-best-kept-secrets-114540 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Reclaimed Soul-Motownecords.com_.gif" alt="" /><p><div><p>Reclaimed Soul&rsquo;s Ayana Contreras shares some of Motown Records&rsquo; best kept secrets: artists that, despite the strength of their work, never broke through into the mainstream.</p></div><div><br /><div>&nbsp;</div></div><div><div><div>&nbsp;</div></div></div><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Wed, 20 Jan 2016 15:37:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2016-01-20/reclaimed-soul-motown-records%E2%80%99-best-kept-secrets-114540 Long Live the Starman http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2016-01-11/long-live-starman-114442 <p><p dir="ltr">The Starman is dead. Long live the Starman.</p><div><p dir="ltr">We remember David Bowie. The singer, songwriter, actor, and pop culture enigma who died Sunday after a battle with cancer. He was 69 years old.</p><p dir="ltr">Bowie&rsquo;s career spanned nearly five decades, his work was constantly changing. He left his mark on generations of musicians, and he changed the way that many of us thought about rock stars, fashion, and even about sexuality. We opened up the phone lines today to hear listeners&#39; Bowie stories, and how the legend&#39;s music shaped lives.</p><div>Plus, we&nbsp;caught up with Jim DeRogatis of WBEZ&rsquo;s Sound Opinions for<a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2016-01/rip-david-bowie-114435" target="_blank"> his take on David Bowie</a>. While DeRogatis may not be the biggest Bowie fan, he appreciates his music and his impact.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Ex09_2014_DavidBowieIs_019.jpg" style="height: 414px; width: 620px;" title="One of the pieces in the 'David Bowie Is' installation at MCA Chicago, September 23, 2014 - January 4, 2015. (Nathan Keay/MCA Chicago)" /></div></div><div>Chicago was the only U.S. city where that David Bowie exhibit was on display. The show started at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, where Geoffrey Marsh is the curator.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>We talked to Marsh when the show David Bowie Is was at the Museum of Contemporary Art. He told us why Chicago was a good fit for the exhibition.</div><div><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Ex09_2014_DavidBowieIs_454.jpg" style="height: 414px; width: 620px;" title="One of the pieces in the 'David Bowie Is' installation at MCA Chicago, September 23, 2014 - January 4, 2015. (Nathan Keay/MCA Chicago)" /></div></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 11 Jan 2016 13:30:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2016-01-11/long-live-starman-114442 Remembering Otis Clay http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2016-01-11/remembering-otis-clay-114444 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/OtisClay_Masahiro Sumori.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>We kicked off the Monday&#39;s show with the news that David Bowie, the pop culture enigma who passed away just days after his lateset album release and 69th birthday.</p><p>The music world lost another luminary over the weekend right here in Chicago. Soul singer Otis Clay died Friday following a heart attack. He was 73.</p><p>Clay spoke with WBEZ back in 2011. We asked him if it was hard to change gears when he sang soul, and when he sang gospel.</p></p> Mon, 11 Jan 2016 13:11:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2016-01-11/remembering-otis-clay-114444 The Neuroscience of Musical Perception, Bass Guitars and Drake http://www.wbez.org/news/science/neuroscience-musical-perception-bass-guitars-and-drake-114237 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/npr_sound_wide-1131089bb43b20edc38fdcbfe8b7525f93988f03-s600-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res460191749" previewtitle="Maria Fabrizio for NPR"><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Maria Fabrizio for NPR" src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/12/17/npr_sound_wide-1131089bb43b20edc38fdcbfe8b7525f93988f03-s600-c85.jpg" style="height: 348px; width: 620px;" title="(Maria Fabrizio for NPR)" /></div><div><div>In June of 2001 musician Peter Gabriel flew to Atlanta to make music with two apes. The jam went surprisingly well.</div></div></div><p>At each session Gabriel, a known dabbler in experimental music and a founding member of the band Genesis, would riff with a small group of musicians. The bonobos &ndash; one named Panbanisha, the other Kanzi &mdash; were trained to play in response on keyboards and showed a surprising, if rudimentary, awareness of melody and rhythm.</p><p>Since then Gabriel has been working with scientists to help better understand animal cognition, including musical perception. Plenty of related research has explored whether or not animals other than humans can recognize what we consider to be music &ndash; whether they can they find coherence in a series of sounds that could otherwise transmit as noise. Many do, to a degree. And it&#39;s not just apes that respond to song.</p><p>Parrots reportedly demonstrate some degree of &quot;entrainment,&quot; or the syncing up of brainwave patterns with an external rhythm; dolphins may &mdash; and I stress&nbsp;may&nbsp;&mdash;&nbsp;<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/04/dolphins-radiohead_n_4039356.html">respond</a>&nbsp;to Radiohead; and certain styles of music reportedly influence dog behavior (Wagner supposedly honed his operas based on the response of his Cavalier King Charles Spaniel). But most researchers agree that fully appreciating what we create and recognize as music is a primarily human phenomenon.</p><div id="con460302955" previewtitle="Sound clip"><p><span style="font-size:20px;"><strong>How brain waves entrain to music</strong></span></p><p>This image, taken from an MEG reading, shows a musician&#39;s brain more strongly entraining to Beethoven&#39;s unhurried Sonata No. 23.</p><div id="res460303338" previewtitle="Courtesy of Keith Doelling"><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Courtesy of Keith Doelling" src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/12/18/brainwaveimage_custom-210f8a1ed6c6d5a75ded295f4ae441c5707923ee-s600-c85.jpg" style="height: 427px; width: 620px;" title="Courtesy of Keith Doelling" /></div><div>&nbsp;</div></div></div><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="290" scrolling="no" src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/460191654/460300789" title="NPR embedded audio player" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Recent research hints at how the human brain is uniquely able to recognize and enjoy music &mdash; how we render simple ripples of vibrating air into visceral, emotional experiences. It turns out, the answer has a lot to do with timing. The work also reveals why your musician friends are sometimes more tolerant of really boring music.</p><p>Past work has shown that human brain rhythms entrain to speech patterns. In other words, our brain waves oscillate in unison with the rhythm of spoken word. Building on this and other prior research, a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pnas.org/content/112/45/E6233.abstract">recent study</a>&nbsp;published in the&nbsp;<em>Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences&nbsp;</em>confirms that, perhaps intuitively and likely an evolutionary byproduct of speech processing, the same is true for music.</p><p>Using a technology called&nbsp;<a href="http://web.mit.edu/kitmitmeg/whatis.html">magnetoencephalography</a>, or MEG, which measures magnetic fields produced by electric currents in the brain, NYU psychology professor David Poeppel and his graduate student Keith Doelling analyzed the brain wave patterns of 39 people as they listened to music. Specifically, volunteers were played snippets of the &quot;Three Bs,&quot; classical shorthand for Brahms, Bach and Beethoven. The study subjects&#39; brain waves were traced while the music played, and their brain activity synced up with the music, particularly, as would be expected, in the auditory cortex, the region of the brain that processes sound. Their brains were on beat.<br /><br />Next Poeppel and Doelling assessed how brain wave patterns responded to music in musicians compared with nonmusicians, defined as, for the purposes of the study, those with at least six years of musical training who actively play music and those who don&#39;t currently play and who have less than three years of training, respectively.<br /><br />They found that the brain wave rhythms of nonmusicians didn&#39;t entrain to music with a tempo less than one note per second, or what would be considered slow music. However, the musicians&#39; brainwaves buzzed in synchrony to music as slow as 0.7 notes per second. &quot;It looks like musicians can take longer, more drawn out musical phrases and group them into a pattern of some kind,&quot; says Poeppel, &quot;the response to what some people perceive as just a series of beeps and blips turns on much more sharply in musicians.&quot;</p><p>Dr. Devin McAuley, a professor of cognitive science at Michigan State University who wasn&#39;t involved with the study says, &quot;These are exciting findings that fit into a broader body of work. It&#39;s been previously shown that musicians tend to be able to produce slower rhythms compared with nonmusicians. It&#39;s also been shown that children with musical training have a slower preferred tempo than kids who haven&#39;t had training.&quot;</p><p>The findings might help explain why &mdash; in my completely unscientific sampling of friends and acquaintances &mdash; musicians tend to be more tolerant of slow, ambient, droning music (my pal Kevin thrives at a dreamy 0.6 notes per second).</p><p>They might also explain why musicians&nbsp;<a href="http://commonhealth.wbur.org/2015/10/cocktail-party-problem">appear</a>&nbsp;to be more attuned to environmental sounds, like picking out a single voice in the din of a crowded room. Research shows that this may be because of musicians&#39; heightened ability to discriminate between different frequencies.</p><p>Poeppel is quick to acknowledge that his work by no means proves that entrainment equates with being a good musician. &quot;Maybe you&#39;re still a really bad piano player despite your brain rhythms locking on, but most of our musicians were conservatory trained so presumably they&#39;re pretty good,&quot; he jokes. &quot;And I don&#39;t plan on sitting them down and saying, &#39;OK, now play something!&#39; &quot;</p><p>A self-described &quot;hardcore nativist,&quot; Poeppel says that much of musical ability and appreciation probably comes genetically hardwired, but, as his study also showed, the number of years of musical training someone has correlates with entrainment. Whatever it means artistically speaking, we can train our brains to respond more precisely to music in a measurable, biologic way.</p><p>A&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nature.com/news/rhythm-is-heard-best-in-the-bass-1.15481">study</a>&nbsp;from 2014 supports Poeppel&#39;s findings and may reveal a nuance that helps explain how entrainment influences what we perceive as music. Using an electroencephalogram, or EEG, to measure electrical activity in the brain, psychologist Laurel Trainor and her colleagues from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, found that the human brain is far more sensitive to low notes being off tempo than higher notes. Or, put another way, our brains entrain more to low frequencies.</p><p>The authors speculate that this could be why the rhythm sections of so many music styles around the world rely on bass, drums and lower tones, and why discordant guitar solos and blaring saxophone leads can sound just fine when off-beat bass guitar doesn&#39;t.</p><div id="storytext"><p>Poeppel cautions that this research is in its early stages, but speculates that if in fact we are more likely to entrain to lower frequencies it could help explain another critical component of musical perception: movement.</p><p>Music brings with it a subconscious physicality. Dancing, foot-tapping and head-bobbing or headbanging are often inseparable from the rhythm and beat of the song itself. &quot;Listening to music doesn&#39;t just activate the auditory regions of the brain,&quot; Poeppel explains. &quot;Rhythmic input also automatically activates your motor cortex too. Call it &#39;predancing.&#39;&quot;</p><div><blockquote class="twitter-video" lang="en"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">I am SO SO SO SO sorry drake <a href="https://t.co/dev8doQG1Y">pic.twitter.com/dev8doQG1Y</a></p>&mdash; asia. (@DazzlingAsia) <a href="https://twitter.com/DazzlingAsia/status/656286991881924609">October 20, 2015</a></blockquote><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></div><p>According to McAuley, the human brain looks to find, or really assign, music in movement, which could explain why the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.complex.com/music/2015/10/drake-always-dances-on-beat-hotline-bling-mashups/">Internet exploded</a>&nbsp;with musical mashups of Drake&#39;s &quot;Hotline Bling&quot; video in October. Though &quot;The Cosby Show&quot; theme song, Vince Guaraldi&#39;s &quot;Linus and Lucy&quot; and Justin Bieber&#39;s &quot;What Do You Mean?&quot; all vary in tempo, they each appear to sync up with the rapper&#39;s moves just fine. &quot;Our brains can lay down beats anywhere on a continuously moving visual stimulus,&quot; says McAuley. It seems that though we entrain accurately to an auditory beat, we appear to allow some rhythmic leeway with visual input.</p><p>How humans perceive music is, of course, far more complicated than simply tuning into tempo. Music draws up &ndash; and draws from &ndash; memories, emotions and pleasure and reward activity in the brain. Other acoustic qualities like melody, harmony and timbre also play important roles. And our conscious ability to apply symbolic meaning to sounds, lyrics and song &ndash; and to recognize when listening to music that what we&#39;re listening to is supposed to be music &ndash; also certainly influences human musical perception.</p><p>But the work of Poeppel and others suggests that a tonal time perception hinted at in apes and more fully formed in man could be a prerequisite for discerning a song. Musical appreciation might begin with our brains simply staying on beat.</p><p><em>Bret Stetka is a writer based in New York and an editorial director at&nbsp;<a href="http://www.medscape.com/public/bios/bio-bretstetka" target="_blank">Medscape</a>. His work has appeared in&nbsp;Wired&nbsp;andScientific American,&nbsp;and on The Atlantic.com. He plays a Fender Jaguar, often very slowly. He&#39;s also on Twitter:&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/BretStetka" target="_blank">@BretStetka</a></em></p></div><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/12/19/460191654/the-neuroscience-of-musical-perception-bass-guitars-and-drake?ft=nprml&amp;f=460191654" target="_blank"><em> via NPR</em></a></p></p> Sun, 20 Dec 2015 23:08:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/science/neuroscience-musical-perception-bass-guitars-and-drake-114237