Ari Shapiro

On the last edition of Play It Forward, All Things Considered's chain of musical gratitude, Los Angeles singer-songwriter Mia Doi Todd spoke about Grammy Award-winning multi-instrumentalist Thundercat.

Some day, historians will look back on this time and ask how Americans kept their cool during a pandemic, a recession, and a stressful presidential race. Those historians may be surprised to find the coping mechanisms included a British reality TV show.

The Great British Bake Off — or The Great British Baking Show, as it's technically called in the U.S. — does not have backstabbing alliances or obstacle courses. It's just home cooks in a big white tent baking cakes, pastries, and biscuits — that is, cookies.

On the last edition of Play It Forward, All Things Considered's chain of musical gratitude, Philly-bred multi-instrumentalist Laraaji spoke about Los Angeles singer-songwriter Mia Doi Todd.

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When Kylie Minogue was a kid growing up in Australia, her parents played a lot of disco at home. As she and her siblings danced around the house to artists like ABBA and the Bee Gees, she says, she imagined herself as one of them: "I definitely wanted to be Olivia Newton-John, or Agnetha from ABBA, or Donna Summer."

At any hour of any day, somewhere on the radio dial, chances are you can find the voice of Stevie Nicks. This fall, decades after her 1970s breakthrough with Fleetwood Mac, she even became a chart sensation again, after a skateboarding TikTok star gave one of the band's classic songs a boost.

He came from Saturn, on a mission to spread peace through the power of music — or so Sun Ra claimed. "I'm really not a man, you see. I'm an angel," the legendary bandleader said in an interview in the late 1980s. "If you're an angel, you're a step above man."

On the last episode of Play It Forward, All Things Considered's chain of musical gratitude, British singer-songwriter Lianne La Havas spoke about Brooklyn-based musician and producer Nick Hakim. In particular, she explained his spellbinding sound and why she considers him one of the greatest musical minds.

In the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic, the hardest hit areas were big cities, from Seattle to New York. But now, eight months after the crisis hit the U.S, new cases are surging in some small towns and rural areas around the country.

Colorado is among more than a dozen states that set a seven-day record for positive COVID-19 cases on Tuesday.

The coronavirus is now spreading through more than a dozen states, including Wisconsin. On Wednesday alone, there were more than 3,000 new infections and more than two dozen deaths. The state is averaging 2,840 new cases per day, an increase of 22% from the average two weeks earlier.

In total, 158,578 people in Wisconsin have tested positive for the virus and 1,536 people have died.

New Yorkers have been watching with alarm as COVID-19 cases have begun to climb in the city, particularly in areas that Governor Andrew Cuomo has called hotspots, several of which are in predominantly Orthodox Jewish communities in Brooklyn and Queens.

Susanna Clarke's debut novel, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, was a sweeping page turner about ancient magic set during the Napoleonic Wars. That blockbuster book was all about escape. Now, 16 years later, Clarke is focused on feeling locked in.

Her latest is called Piranesi ­­-- that's also her narrator's name — and his whole world is a strange, labyrinthine house. His name comes from a real-life person, Giovanni Battista Piranesi, an 18th-century architect and artist.

Jason Wright joins the Washington Football Team as it confronts a series of crises: allegations of sexual harassment and bullying, the COVID-19 pandemic and changing a racist team name.

On the last episode of Play It Forward, All Things Considered's chain of musical gratitude, British spoken word artist Kae Tempest spoke about singer-songwriter and fellow South Londoner Lianne La Havas. In particular, they described being transfixed by La Havas' command of melody after witnessing her perform at the Royal Albert Hall.

In this week's Play It Forward, where artists tell us about their music and the musicians who inspire them, we hear from the British spoken word poet and musician Kae Tempest. In last week's segment, Indigo Girls' Amy Ray and Emily Saliers talked about Tempest's ability to capture small human moments in large meditations about life and the resonant way they think about love. Ray called them "a true poet," like one of the literary greats.

We're back with season two of Play It Forward, where we talk with artists about their music and the artists they're thankful for. The band Indigo Girls has shaped a generation of singer-songwriters.

Mississippi is heading for a title that no state would want: It is on track to overtake Florida to become the No. 1 state for new coronavirus infections per capita, according to researchers at Harvard.

The state already faces high levels of diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and obesity.

For Tiny Desk Playlists, we ask musicians, creators and folks we admire to choose the Tiny Desk concerts they've come to love. For this edition, All Things Considered Host Ari Shapiro picks his five favorite performances.

The arrival of federal agents in Portland three weeks ago to crack down on racial justice protests fueled tensions there, and helped push the city to the forefront of coverage of the nation's racial justice movement.

As one of the whitest big cities in the America, Portland's outsize role in the nationwide protests may strike some as surprising.

"If history is written by winners," author Maria Sherman says, "music history is written by rock critics, and they don't typically get along with boy bands."

For reasons that she explores in her new book, Larger Than Life: A History Of Boy Bands From NKOTB To BTS, Sherman says boy bands don't get the same respect as other music acts, especially their rock peers.

We're all familiar with migration: Wildebeests gallop across Africa, Monarch butterflies flit across the Americas ... but did you know that forests migrate, too?

In his new book The Journeys of Trees, science writer Zach St. George explores an agonizingly slow migration, as forests creep inch by inch to more hospitable places.

In the history of commercial air travel, airlines have never had a stretch as bad as the last few months. Early in the pandemic, Delta Air Lines was losing $100 million each day. Now it's losing about $27 million a day.

While Delta is making "good headway" on reducing its cash burn, the most important factor for financial recovery is something that's largely out of the industry's control, says Ed Bastian, the company's CEO.

"The bottom line is we've got to restore confidence amongst our consumer base in air travel," he tells NPR.

One of the country's leading business schools — the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania — has never had a woman or a person of color as its dean since it was founded nearly 140 years ago.

Until now.

Erika James was named as Wharton's 15th dean in February and officially started the job earlier this month.

The business world has been slow to reflect the gender and racial makeup of America today, but James says that's not due to a lack of ability to make it happen.

In the inaugural season of Play It Forward, we've followed a musical chain of gratitude across genre, regions and time. First up was Dan Snaith, the Canadian indie-electronic auteur who records as Caribou.

The surge in COVID-19 infections throughout Alabama is forcing Gov. Kay Ivey to rethink plans to reopen the state.

For the last seven days, Alabama has logged an average of nearly 1,000 new daily coronavirus cases, with hospitalizations at their highest level since the pandemic began.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday told NPR she agreed with presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden's assessment that mask usage should be mandated on the federal level amid a surge of coronavirus cases across the United States. She blamed the Trump administration for failing to accept the seriousness of the pandemic.

"I totally agree with Joe Biden. As long as we're faced with this crisis, masks should be mandatory," Pelosi told NPR's Ari Shapiro and Susan Davis on All Things Considered.

In the last installment of Play It Forward, the series in which musicians give thanks for the artists who have inspired them, Ari Shapiro spoke with saxophonist Lakecia Benjamin.

In the two-and-a-half weeks since police killed George Floyd in Minneapolis, the question of how to change policing has eclipsed almost every other topic of debate.

Some of the loudest voices opposing dramatic change are from police unions.

Last time on Play It Forward, our musical chain of gratitude, R&B singer and producer Georgia Anne Muldrow raved about the saxophonist Lakecia Benjamin. They share a few things in common: Both studied together at The New School's School of Jazz and Contemporary Music, both tap a similar spiritual vein in their music and as Muldrow sees it, both are "sangin' " even if it's through different mediums.

For white people who have just recently recognized their own complicity in America's racist systems and are looking to "fix" that — it's not going to happen overnight.

"It's a little bit like saying 'I want to be in shape tomorrow' ..." says author Robin DiAngelo. "This is going to be a process."

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