Vince Pearson

Amanda Shires' new album, For Christmas, makes it clear: she'd rather not be home for Christmas at all. "I think it would be a big lie or a sham to just walk through this Christmas stuff and think that everything's perfect," the Nashville-based fiddler, songwriter and singer tells Morning Edition's Steve Inskeep.

To hear the broadcast version of this interview, use the audio player above.

"Park Hill was a pretty nice environment — the buildings were very clean and they had doormen, intercoms in order to get in the building," recalls Raekwon, the legendary rapper best known as a core member of the canonical Wu-Tang Clan, of some early memories.

A decade ago, jazz icon Tony Bennett and pop superstar Lady Gaga struck up one of the great Odd Couple partnerships in recent music history. Singing together first on his album Duets II, and then on their co- album, Cheek to Cheek, Bennett and Gaga made history on the charts while proving some things never go out of style.

Now, with Love For Sale, Bennett and Gaga are serving up another round but with a poignant twist: It may be Bennet's final album. He's 95, and has been living Alzheimers disease.

Staff and visitors at a Nebraska zoo got a bit of excitement recently when a nearly 5,000-pound rhinoceros named Jontu slipped out of his pen unnoticed.

Workers at Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium found the 13-year-old Indian one-horned rhino behind his barn, calmly munching on grass.

At this time last year, Morning Edition was looking for ways to chronicle, and through that make sense of a moment as dramatic as anything in recent memory. We turned to music almost immediately, and specifically our Song Project — asking musicians to write an original song about their experience of the tumult.

Natasha Cobbs Leonard began singing early, performing "I Believe Children Are Our Future" at a cousin's kindergarten graduation while she was still in grade school, though she had a longer road towards realizing the scope of her now-obvious gift. "After that, I literally did not sing lead in front of a crowd until I was 15 years old."

As a rapper, the Twin Cities-based artist Matt Allen goes by Nur-D – and the name kind of fits. "It's something embedded into my soul," Allen tells Morning Edition. "Comics, Dungeons & Dragons, professional wrestling...."

His positive music has made him one of the most popular artists in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. But, when George Floyd was murdered by a former Minneapolis police officer a year ago this month, Nur-D's life took a new turn.

Morning Edition's Song Project is a series where songwriters are asked to write an original song about the COVID era – our newest song is from Kaoru Ishibashi, an Asian-American musician and songwriter who performs as Kishi Bashi. The song is called "For Every Voice That Never Sang," about the feeling of being an outsider in your own country.

Morning Edition Song Project is the series where songwriters are asked to write an original song about the COVID era. The newest addition is brought by Michael League. He plays all kinds of instruments; he's a producer, too — and the lead of the jazz-fusion group Snarky Puppy.

Kev Marcus and Wil Baptiste — two artists from Fort Lauderdale, Fla. — met 25 years ago, in a high school orchestra class. Growing up, neither one had had much exposure to classical music; both said their parents were more likely to listen to reggae or calypso. Classical music felt like it was supposed to be for other people, which had the effect of drawing them even closer to it. Today, they play as a duo, with Marcus on violin and Baptiste on viola.

In more than four decades of music, Barry Gibb and his brothers Robin and Maurice created almost too many hits to count as the pop powerhouse the Bee Gees. Today, at 74, Barry is the last living Gibb brother, and has continued on as a solo artist. If you've only ever associated his name with the disco era, his new album may surprise you: It turns out that the musician, who emigrated from the U.K. to Australia when he and his brothers were kids, has always been a big fan of American country music.

Adam Weiner sings and plays piano like an old school rock and roller in the band Low Cut Connie. Like so many musicians this year, Weiner saw all his gigs go up in smoke.

At only 25, trap star Lil Baby is one of the most popular musicians alive. His most recent album, My Turn, spent weeks at No. 1, and over the past few years he's had four dozen songs chart on the Billboard Hot 100, putting him in a dead heat with Paul McCartney and Prince.

For the Morning Edition Song Project, we've asked musicians to capture life in the era of COVID-19 by writing an original song that describes this turbulent moment. For our next entry, Nashville-based soul singer Devon Gilfillian examines how the pandemic created space for a national dialogue on race with his new song, "Cracks in the Ceiling," which he wrote after a difficult conversation with a close friend.

The pandemic, a bad economy, police killings and a fight for racial equality: It's a lot of take in. For some, music has been a way to cope and try to make sense of it all and that is the premise behind the Morning Edition Song Project, in which we asked musicians to write and perform an original song about this moment.

First, a pandemic, then economic collapse and now there are mass demonstrations over police brutality and racism.

In times of upheaval like this, music can be an escape. Maybe a way to reflect or try to make sense of things. This is what led to a new series we're launching today. For the Morning Edition Song Project, we've been asking musicians to write and perform an original song for us.

The Clark Sisters — Jackie, Dorinda, Denise, Twinkie and Karen — were one of the most important gospel groups of the 20th century. The sisters grew up in Detroit and learned to sing from their mother, Mattie Moss Clark, a renowned gospel singer in her own right. With her help, the Clark Sisters went on to win three Grammy awards and become the top-selling female gospel group of all time. Simply put, they changed the sound of modern gospel music.

It's easy to imagine that Ringo Starr's closet is full of shoe boxes containing old mementos, like the photographs that populate Another Day In The Life, his newest book. The reality is a bit different though.

"If I'm in them, I just lift them off the internet," he says. "Others are what I do on tour when I'm hanging out."

Neil Young has easily one of the most recognizable names in American music, and his familiar voice isn't getting quieter with time. He has played with a lot of people over the years: There was Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. But Crazy Horse has outlasted all of them.

Sixty years ago, this month, Miles Davis finished recording Kind of Blue, perhaps his greatest masterpiece and still jazz's bestselling album. But it was not the only milestone recorded that year.

From 1991 to 1994, Nirvana was one of the biggest bands in the world with a look and sound that would come to define the decade's music. At the height of this fame, though, bandleader Kurt Cobain sometimes seemed to be an unwilling participant who had just been swept up and carried away by Nirvana's success. Then, after less than four years of meteoric fame, Cobain died of suicide on April 5, 1994. He was 27.

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.

As it has annually for 17 years, the Library of Congress picked out a wide-ranging set of recordings — songs, albums, speeches, monologues, field recordings and some very old phonograph cylinders — to add to the National Recording Registry, bringing the total number of works within it to 525.

It's been nearly 40 years since the rock group Led Zeppelin broke up in 1980, but many classic rock fans are still feeling the void. Singer Robert Plant's trademark howl has inspired many bands over the decades — from Billy Squier to The White Stripes — but few as convincingly as a young band from Frankenmuth, Mich.

Growing up, Joan Marie Larkin had big dreams. She considered becoming an archaeologist or an astronaut, and she wasn't going to let society tell her what a girl could or couldn't do. She eventually turned to music and went on to be one of the most celebrated women in rock: Joan Jett. Bad Reputation, a new documentary out now, traces her hard-fought rise to rock and roll fame.