Music

Mavis Staples could've retired in good conscience years ago.

But slowing down isn't her style.

With her father, sisters and brother as The Staple Singers, her gospel songs scored the civil rights movement.

More than a half century later, as Staples nears 80, the decorated R&B star continues to train her soulful pipes on hope and resilience in her call for change.

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Nearly a half-century ago, in the summer of 1971, the young singer-songwriter Cass Wheeler entered a studio in London to record "Common Ground." A wistful acoustic-guitar and piano-dri

At the turn of the 20th Century, millions of African Americans moved from the rural South to the country's Northern cities in search of a new beginning. That time of discovery, awakening and Renaissance came to be known as The Great Migration.

It's been a fascinating journey following the trajectory of Rodrigo y Gabriela as they rose from self-imposed exile from their native Mexico on the streets of Dublin to international acclaim and admiration.

All with just two acoustic guitars.

With huge hits like "Love Train" and "Back Stabbers," the formidable band The O'Jays brought the sound of Philadelphia soul to the airwaves back in the early '70s, along with messages of love and unity.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Our shortlist of the best albums out this week includes a stirring call for social justice from soul and gospel legend Mavis Staples, rapper YG's powerful remembrance of Nipsey Hussle and the first new release in six years from lo-fi rock veterans Sebadoh. Host Robin Hilton is joined by NPR Music's Ann Powers, Sidney Madden and Stephen Thompson as they share their picks for the most essential albums dropping on May 24.

Featured Albums:

  1. Mavis Staples: We Get By
    Featured Song: "Sometime"

After more than 20 years, the Rolling Stones and The Verve have resolved a sour dispute over the authorship of the song "Bitter Sweet Symphony." The Verve's frontman and co-founder, Richard Ashcroft, announced on Wednesday that the situation has finally been laid to rest.

In this session, we have the shapeshifting sounds of singer, songwriter, and record producer Chaz Bear a.k.a Toro y Moi.

On 2017's Boo Boo, Toro y Moi wrote a chill R&B record. For 2019's Outer Peace, he had an unusual motivator. He wanted to write more about the grind, about songs that serve as cheat codes for your life.

Lizzo was in fifth grade when it came time to choose instruments for band. The choice was made for her when the music teacher paired her with the flute.

It turned out to be a good match: The singer and rapper fell in love with the instrument and went on to pursue a degree in music performance and music theory with the hopes of becoming a professional flutist. "I saw a life of concert black and Boston Pops and traveling the world," Lizzo says. "When that didn't pan out for me, I was very depressed."

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