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Songs We Love: Daniel Caesar, 'Death & Taxes'

Nov 30, 2015

There's an uncertainty, unshakable at first sight, which comes with saving yourself from someone you love — that sliver of doubt about whether your choice was the right one. Daniel Caesar is a Toronto-native who left his home while in the 11th grade, after a fight with his parents over faith. His new EP, Pilgrim's Paradise, follows the now-20-year-old, R&B singer-songwriter facing the harsh reality that comes with the decision to leave familiarity in order to find one's self.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify playlist at the bottom of the page.

What do you think about when you think about Janis Joplin? Her untamed hair, her eclectic wardrobe, a raspy, soulful singing style that was blues and rock and somehow yet all her own? For many people, she was the quintessential wild child of the late 1960s — especially after her untimely death from a heroin overdose at the age of 27.

In 1964, near the end of his career, Billy Strayhorn accompanied himself on a live recording of one of his best-known songs. It starts:

I used to visit all the very gay places

Those come-what-may places

Billy Strayhorn In Five Songs

Nov 29, 2015

There have been plenty of distinctions in Robin Eubanks' career. The award-winning musician, composer and educator has played with Stevie Wonder, Elvin Jones and Art Blakey; he's appeared on The Tonight Show, Saturday Night Live, the Grammys.

Scottish punk rocker Nye Todd writes melodies for anyone who is young at heart. His lyrics, however, tend to be a bit more specific.

Todd is the transgender lead singer of queer punk band The Spook School, and the bulk of the songs on the band's new album, Try To Be Hopeful, are personal accounts from the fringes. Societal norms and gender stereotypes are in the crosshairs during many of these 11 threadbare tunes, but Todd gives equal airtime to trans love songs that hit home no matter your orientation.

A successful journalist, radio and TV host, screenwriter and songwriter, Mitch Albom is the master of many things. But he is assuredly best known for his memoir, Tuesdays with Morrie, which has sold more than 14 million copies.

Villagers On World Cafe

Nov 27, 2015

Irish singer-songwriter Conor O'Brien, who performs as Villagers, has made three albums that have all hit Number 1 at home in Ireland, including his 2015 album, Darling Arithmetic. What's different this time has less to do with the fact that he's performing with a band and more to do with how he sees himself.

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