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How Snarky Puppy’s Michael League brings all genres to the table

Rhythm Foundation Assignments
Osmany Torres
Michael League (right) is the bandleader of Snarky Puppy and the co-founder of the GroundUP Music Festival.
Michael League (right) is the bandleader of Snarky Puppy and the co-founder of the GroundUP Music Festival.

If there’s a band that defies labels, it’s Snarky Puppy.

Michael League founded the band almost 20 years ago when he couldn’t get into any of the music programs at his college. Instead, he created a band that was rooted in jazz, but opened itself to all kinds of musicians.

The result is Snarky Puppy winning five Grammy Awards. They won one last year for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album.

You can hear all kinds of different influences there. The band cut a record with David Crosby of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. But more than 40 members have cycled through over the years, and they’ve played with the likes of Snoop Dogg, Justin Timberlake and Erykah Badu.

League also co-founded the annual GroundUP Music Festival. It’s happening this weekend at the Miami Beach Bandshell. It includes a pair of legendary Cuban bands playing together for the first time. And they feature music from an album Michael helped produce.

On the Jan. 30 episode of Sundial, League told us why his love of music is hard to classify.

On Sundial's previous episode, Auri Kananen earned social media fame for going around the globe and cleaning some of the messiest homes. She told us about her book “Happiness Cleaning: How to Embrace the Mess and Love the Cleanup.”

Listen to Sundial Monday through Thursday on WLRN, 91.3 FM, live at 1 p.m., rebroadcast at 8 p.m. Missed a show? Find every episode of Sundial on your favorite podcast app, such as Apple PodcastsStitcherand Spotify.

Carlos Frías is a bilingual writer, a journalist of more than 25 years and the author of an award-winning memoir published by Simon & Schuster.
Leslie Ovalle Atkinson is the former lead producer behind Sundial. As a multimedia producer, she also worked on visual and digital storytelling.
Elisa Baena is a former associate producer for Sundial.