Audie Cornish

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

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From Germany and Pakistan to Nigeria and New York, millions of young people took to the streets today to demand urgent action on climate change.

(SOUNDBITE OF MONTAGE)

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER #1: What do we want?

Nailed It! is a competition show in which home bakers try to re-create elaborate cakes — and often fail spectacularly.

"Our show is truly like: As long as you don't kill people with your food, you might win!" says co-host Nicole Byer.

So when Byer learned the Netflix program was nominated for an Emmy, she was shocked.

"The call I got from Netflix, one of the execs on the show, she was like ... 'We were — nominated?' " Byer says. "Everybody was surprised."

When it comes to comedy, Aparna Nancherla's brand is anxiety. She turns the insecurities and questions inside her mind into a brand of commentary on modern life. Her style is light and gentle, but it's rooted in a place of pain and struggle.

Poorna Jagannathan is an actress whose name you may not know, but whose face seems to pop up in many places.

She's had small roles in series like House of Cards or Better Call Saul — and bigger ones in Hulu's Ramy and HBO's The Night Of and Big Little Lies. It's a big leap from some of her early TV roles.

Fifty years ago this August, Miles Davis assembled a group of musicians to record the sprawling, groundbreaking album Bitches Brew. With the sounds of Jimi Hendrix, Sly & the Family Stone and James Brown in his head, Davis plugged in and brought these electric rock sensibilities to jazz.

As young men, the sons of the Villalobos family in rural Veracruz, Mexico embarked on separate paths — at least, geographically. One by one, the three violin-playing brothers left their hometown of Xalapa to study classical music abroad. Ernesto, the oldest of the three, went to study at the Manhattan School of Music. Alberto, the middle brother, went to the Royal Conservatory of Brussels and finally Luis, the youngest, went to the Hochschule für Musik in Freiburg, Germany.

K.Flay kicked off her musical career with experimental rap mixtapes like Suburban Rap Queen. Since then, the singer has dabbled in different styles, but retained a biting, rough-around-the-edges sound. She's dropped such projects as I Stopped Caring in '96 and Life as a Dog and her Grammy-nominated 2017 track "Blood In The Cut" is a raging strutter.

Since it dropped in April, Lil Nas X's "Old Town Road" has been an inescapable hit. The song's massive blow-up is at least partially thanks to TikTok: the social media platform that launches viral stars 15 seconds at a time, and what writer Alyssa Bereznak called the "future of the music industry" in a recent article for The Ringer.

In the story of Rip van Winkle, a man asleep for 20 years wakes up in a world where people know things that he doesn't. Flip that, and you'd have a story about someone who wakes up to discover he knows things that no one else knows. That is, you'd have the premise of the movie Yesterday.

If Hannah Gadsby's name doesn't ring a bell from last year, the name Nanette should. The Netflix comedy special became a surprise hit in 2018 and made the Australian comedian a household name.

Nanette starts as conventional stand-up, with jokes about everyday indignities and hilarities growing up in Gadsby's native Tasmania as a queer woman. Then, without warning, she takes a dark turn.

Back in the mid-'90s, Emily Nussbaum was working on a Ph.D. in literature at NYU. But the TV on the other side of the room just kept catching her eye.

"I was sitting on my sofa," Nussbaum says in an interview. "I had a small, junky television. I had broken the extremely rudimentary remote control. I had to get up from the sofa, walk over to the television, turn the big plastic dial ... it made a nice clunky sound."

Dig into the liner notes of the biggest pop records of the last 15 years and Mark Ronson's name will come up up a lot.

In 2008, fire swept through a Universal Studios Hollywood backlot. The loss was thought to be a few movie sets and film duplicates. But earlier this week, The New York Times published a report revealing that the 2008 fire burned hundreds of thousands of master recordings of genre-spanning, legendary music from the late 1940s to the early '80s as well as digital formats and hard drives from the late '80s up through the early 2000s.

Facing the threat of a federal lawsuit, Alabama's Department of Corrections has unveiled a three-year plan to address its shortcomings and improve conditions for inmates and staff.

Sesame Street, the award-winning children's program turns 50 this year. As the iconic TV program has aged, it has managed to stay musically apace with its forever-young audience. It's not an easy task, but it's one that the show's creators prioritize for the sake of children's education. While Big Bird, Elmo & co.

Since coming out as gay in 2014, Ty Herndon has changed all female pronouns in his song "What Mattered Most" to male pronouns.
Jeremy Ryan / Courtesy of the a

Some music is so ingrained in our collective minds that it's easy to forget how game-changing it was. In the late 1960s, a marriage of rock and folk took place and much of the popular music from that union was being made in a single place — Laurel Canyon, Los Angeles.

Rashema Melson was among the more than 1,750 undergraduates who received diplomas from Georgetown University last weekend.

Before she attended college on a full scholarship, Melson graduated at the top of her class as the valedictorian of Anacostia High School in Washington, D.C.

She was also living with her mother and brothers at D.C. General, a family homeless shelter that shut down last year.

After months of watching entry videos — over 6,000 of them — the judges of the fifth annual Tiny Desk Contest have chosen a winner!

Vampire Weekend's last album, Modern Vampires of the City, helped vault it to festival headliner status, and topped year-end best-of lists when it was released. But that was six years ago — and a lot has happened in the time since. One of the main creative forces in the band, Rostam Batmanglij, left the group in early 2016.

Though Pete Seeger, the heralded folk singer, songwriter and social activist died in 2014, his voice has left a lasting impression on American music. May 3, 2019 would have been Seeger's 100th birthday and to mark the centennial, Smithsonian Folkways is set to release a six-CD collection titled Pete Seeger: The Smithsonian Folkways Collection.

Kanye West has been rapping about God from early in his career, hearkening back to one of his first hits, "Jesus Walks" off his debut album, 2004's The College Dropout.

During World War II, with thousands of men shipping off to war, half a dozen all-female, instrumental big bands toured around America. It was a rarity in a musical world dominated by men and, for the most part, their stories have been erased or minimized in jazz history.

Maren Morris' life has been a whirlwind these last few years. Following the success of her major label debut album, 2016's Hero, and last year's dance-pop hit "The Middle," the country-pop singer-songwriter is back with more experiences, more confidence and her latest album, Girl, out March 8.

David Means is an enthusiast, and a defender, of the short story. As he once said, "We don't tell novels at the kitchen table."

"Of course, that's sort of a sales pitch for the short story form," Means says in an interview. "But I really believe that they're really usually, at the core, relatively simple. You know: This happened, and then this happened."

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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.

Create and star in a blockbuster hip-hop musical, and you get to do pretty much anything you want. For Lin-Manuel Miranda, the playwright and composer behind Hamilton and In the Heights, that means starring in the sequel to a hallowed Disney classic.

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