music

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.


In 1998, songwriter Kandi Burruss — on hiatus from her R&B group, Xscape — took a drive around Atlanta with a girlfriend, looking for inspiration. In the car, Burruss was playing tracks she'd gotten from a fellow songwriter, Kevin "She'kspere" Briggs, a few days earlier.

Dan Perez/Sweat Records

Dorys Bello and Eli Oviedo are the musicians behind the beautifully haunting but soothing sounds of the Miami indie-folk band Dracula.

Italian singer Andrea Bocelli is a superstar. The Grammy- and Emmy-nominated tenor is one of the highest-selling vocalists in music. In 1999, Bocelli scored a Guinness World Record for simultaneously holding the No. 1, 2 and 3 spots on Billboard's Classical Top 10 chart. Since then, Bocelli has collaborated with everyone from Celine Dion to Ariana Grande. But on his latest album, Sì, Bocelli tries something he finds really daunting — recording with his 21-year-old son, Matteo.

NSU Art Museum / Courtesy

If you grew up in South Florida in the 80s you might remember 2 Live Crew's explicit hip-hop music blend or the Miami bass sound from The Dogs. These iconic South Florida rap groups helped shape a unique sound, influenced by the diverse abundance of cultures found in the region.

Nancy Wilson died Thursday after a long illness at her home in Pioneertown, Calif., her manager Devra Hall Levy told NPR. She was 81.

Born in Chillicothe, Ohio, in 1937, Wilson has recounted in interviews that she started singing around age 3 or 4.

"I have always just sung. I have never questioned what it is. I thank God for it and I just do it," she told Marian McPartland, host of NPR's Piano Jazz in 1994.

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame announced its newest class of inductees Thursday, one year to the day after the 2018 class was announced. From 15 nominees, seven remain. Here they are, in alphabetical order:

  • The Cure
  • Def Leppard
  • Janet Jackson
  • Stevie Nicks
  • Radiohead
  • Roxy Music
  • The Zombies

This #MeToo-era-cum-yuletide-season, radio stations are pulling the plug on that holiday earworm with lyrics that, to some, ring date-rape warning bells, rather than evoking innocent snow-bound flirtation.

From left to right: Jason Matthews, Eric Escanes, Armando Lopez and Rodrigo Zambrano
Melanie Masterson

The Miami-based improvisational jazz and rock band Electric Kif in many ways reflects South Florida’s diversity. Band members are from across the globe except for Miami native Armando Lopez on drums. Guitarist Eric Escanes is from France, keyboardist Jason Matthews is from Philadelphia and bassist Rodrigo Zambrano is from Mexico City.

Because of the band’s diverse upbringings, they come to the music with a wide variety of influences including funk, jazz, electronica, rock and more. They will be playing the Moksha Art Collective in Wynwood next Saturday as part of the Art Basel performances. The band spoke with Sundial’s Luis Hernandez about Miami’s music scene, the need for more music venues and why they describe their sound as “post-nuclear.”

WLRN: So (Jason) what were your influences? What was a lot of the music you were listening to growing up as a kid?

Matthews: Yeah I grew up on jazz pretty much in high school. But before that I was obsessed with progressive rock. Me and my brother were obsessed with this band called Yes which you probably know for sure. Pink Floyd, Yes and ELP ... I was really into that. And then I started going into the jazz clubs in Philadelphia like there's this place called Time and Chris' Jazz Cafe. And we would go and do the jam sessions every Tuesday and that's how I got into jazz, which led me to the University of Miami.

How old were you when you were going into those clubs? 

Matthews: 15, 16. They had like a late night Tuesday jam. The guy was cool with us, he knew we were young kids just trying to jam so and no one was there. Late night it was just us pretty much watching like the older dudes. And you had to go and buy a drink so we could we would just buy Coke or whatever.

Compared to like other cities Seattle or L.A. or Chicago, where does Miami sit (in terms of its music scene)?

Zambrano: Low, low. I just think that like a lot of people in Miami don't want to pay to see live music. Well, like you said, mid-sized venues it's hard to get people to pay for tickets to see live music you know compared to other cities that we've played at all on the northeast. People always think it's included with the experience in a place that you go.

Who's going to describe to me what is post nuclear? 

Lopez: We were watching a Jim Carrey standup on Saturday Night Live. He does a post nuclear Elvis where he's actually doing a Saturday Night Live audition. He's dancing like Elvis without arms. And we found it hilarious and we're like our music is like post nuclear. We write a lot of dark stuff. So it kind of fit in there.

Watch Electric Kif's in-studio performance. 

One of the best-loved musical styles in the world now bears a new distinction. Reggae — the uniquely Jamaican creation born in the late 1960s and made popular globally by artists like Bob Marley and Toots and the Maytals — has been added to a list of global cultural treasures by UNESCO, the cultural and scientific agency of the United Nations.

Alex Seidenberg / Courtesy

Broward County rapper Samuel "Sam Stan" Stanley, 22, raps about his lived experiences dealing with love and making it as a rapper in South Florida. He describes his style as “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air feel-good music with tons of positive vibes.” 

"I just want to be a glass of lemonade on a hot day. I just want to be refreshing. Cool vibes and feel good music," Stan told Sundial.

Brian Demby / Courtesy

Miami’s Lemon City Trio (LCT) is bringing a fresh new meaning to the word funk.

Brian Robertson, 35, on organ; Nick Tannura, 28, on guitars and Aaron Glueckauf, 27, on drums are the musicians behind the funky jazz-soul sound that makes up Lemon City Trio. They met in Miami, decided to join forces to create a band and began rehearsing at a warehouse located in the Lemon City, a neighborhood in Miami that dates back to the mid-19th Century and overlaps now with Little Haiti.

Kaylee Rodriguez

Miami-native Juan Vidal considers himself a "Rap Dad": a father who has been raised with and informed by hip-hop culture. That's also the name of his new book, which examines the intersection of hip-hop and fatherhood.

In the book, Vidal details his life as a traveling hip-hop artist, a father of four kids and a successful writer and music critic. He examines fathers in hip-hop who are changing the mainstream narrative about fathers of color being absent in their children's lives.

Satellite radio giant SiriusXM is buying the Oakland, Calif.-based digital radio company Pandora in an all-stock deal valued at $3.5 billion, the companies announced Monday. The deal is expected to close in early 2019.

The merger would create "the world's largest audio entertainment company," SiriusXM CEO James Meyer said in a conference call. The deal would still need to be reviewed by antitrust regulators and shareholders, he added.

Shira Lee / Courtesy

Miami based artist Shira Lee is something of a renaissance woman.

She’s a folk and jazz musician in several different bands and an actress and a writer, playing a lead role in the recently released web-series GROWN, which follows the story of two young Haitian-American men making their way in Miami. Lee is also the brainchild behind the “Babawagon,” a mobile performance space here in South Florida funded by the Knight Foundation.

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