Ozomatli is a genre-spanning, Grammy-winning band whose sound draws from Latin influences like salsa and cumbia, as well as hip-hop, rock, reggae and funk. Its many members are political activists who met while working with the Peace and Justice Center of Los Angeles; their first performance was for picketers during a strike.
Originally published on Wed October 3, 2012 5:00 am
Folk-rock singer-songwriter Melissa Etheridge has been making music since she first picked up a guitar at the age of 8. Playing in country groups throughout her teens in her home state of Kansas, Etheridge went on to a hugely successful and decorated 25-year solo career — and won two Grammy Awards and an Oscar along the way.
Originally published on Wed September 5, 2012 8:23 am
Sometimes known as the Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra, the New York band Antibalas — which means "bulletproof" in Spanish — is a large group of talented musicians who play rhythm-intensive Afrobeat music. In a seven-year stretch, Antibalas has released four albums and withstood a five-year hiatus in which several members worked on the Broadway musical FELA!
Originally published on Tue September 4, 2012 10:18 am
Paul Simon's 1986 album Graceland marked an unprecedented intersection of music, culture and politics. In a conversation with World Cafe's David Dye — presented here in four parts — Simon speaks candidly about his legendary collaborations with South African musicians such as Joseph Shabalala and his vocal group Ladysmith Black Mambazo.
Jordan Hull has always been a creative type. Growing up in Dayton, Ohio, Hull explored theater, writing and painting, and eventually got into music as an escape during his rebellious high-school years. Now in Nashville, the 23-year-old singer-songwriter writes lyrics that draw inspiration from great troubadours of yesteryear, including Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie.
A pioneer who muddies the waters separating jazz, blues, country, soul and rock, Cassandra Wilson possesses a beautiful voice and more than three decades of musical experience. The two-time Grammy winner began her career with the M-base collective, but found success as a solo jazz singer.
The Brooklyn-based ambient-folk duo Family Band is a collaboration between visual artist turned frontwoman Kim Krans and her husband, former heavy-metal guitarist Jonny Ollsin. Together, they craft beautifully dark, folk-influenced songs, which they fittingly describe as "heavy mellow."
Working in a subgenre somewhere between soul and rap, Stasia "Stas" Irons and Catherine "Cat" Harris-White form the avant-garde hip-hop duo THEESatisfaction. Based in Seattle, the young duo released its first album, awE naturalE, back in March.
Matthew E. White is an old soul conversant in music's past. On the cover of his debut album, Big Inner, his aesthetic is reminiscent of 1970 John Lennon on the cover of Abbey Road. The Manila-born, Virginia-raised musician was heavily influenced by the early works of Randy Newman — specifically Newman's 1972 album Sail Away.