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Purple Snow: The Minneapolis Sound

Thursday, December 05, 2013

A new compilation chronicles ten years of lesser-known Twin Cities funk and R&B that set the stage for Prince. The curator behind Purple Snow: Forecasting the Minneapolis Sound, and one of the featured artists talk about the Minneapolis music scene of that time.

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'One Night In Bangkok': That Was A Hit?!?; Thundercat Plays Live; Highest Grossing Musicians Of 2013

Monday, December 02, 2013

In this episode: That Was a Hit?!? -- Soundcheck's occasional series on surprising pop-chart success -- examines "One Night In Bangkok," that rare beast: a No. 3 hit from a concept album that later inspired a stage musical about, yes, chess. The writer and Sirius XM personality Mario Correa joins us to talk about Murray Head’s utterly weird, completely infectious song.

Then, the virtuosic electric bassist Stephen Bruner has gigged with singer Erykah Badu and fellow L.A. natives Snoop Dogg, Flying Lotus and Suicidal Tendencies. Bruner and his soul-funk trio come to the Soundcheck studio to play songs from his second solo record, Apocalypse, released under the moniker Thundercat.

Plus: You probably know most -- but not all -- of the road warriors and product pushers on Forbes magazine’s list of highest-grossing musicians of 2013. Zack O'Malley Greenburg talks about who made the list and why.

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Thundercat: Soulful Space-Age Bass

Monday, December 02, 2013

Hear the soulful bass virtuoso Thundercat perform in the Soundcheck studio.

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Chet Faker: Soulful Electronics And A Sensitive Croon

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Hear the soulful electronics of Chet Faker in the Soundcheck studio.

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Gig Alert: Leela James

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The soulful R&B singer performs at the Highline Ballroom Wednesday. Stream her new single with Anthony Hamilton, "Say That."

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Laura Mvula: Shimmering Retro Soul With A Classical Twist

Friday, November 01, 2013

Watch neo-soul singer Laura Mvula perform in the Soundcheck studio.

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Soundcheck

Survivors: Kylie Minogue, Keith Sweat, And Low

Friday, August 23, 2013

Soundcheck is revisiting some of our favorite segments from the past year. Today, we're presenting "Survivors," featuring veteran musicians who have beaten the odds and carved out a space for themselves after decades in the industry.

In this episode: Dance floor diva Kylie Minogue reflects on 25 years of music and fashion.

Plus: In the late 1980s, Keith Sweat helped pioneer the fusion of hip-hop beats and R&B grooves known as New Jack Swing. Now, he’s giving love advice to fans in a new book and on his radio show.

And: For two decades, Low has created some of the most intense “quiet” indie rock around. We talk with Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker, the husband and wife duo behind the Minnesota-based trio, about their 20th anniversary. And, the group plays songs from its new album, The Invisible Way.

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    Dr. Lonnie Smith Still Groovin'; Jose James Mixes Jazz And R&B

    Friday, August 09, 2013

    In this episode, Soundcheck revisits two jazz-leaning segments. The first, an interview with legendary soul jazz organist Dr. Lonnie Smith, who, at 70, recently launched his own label and released a new live album, The Healer

    Then, hear an intimate Greene Space performance from Jose James, a soulful singer who bridges the worlds of R&B and jazz with a silky smooth voice and a lot of swagger.

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    Get To Know: AlunaGeorge

    Friday, August 02, 2013

    Before they even released their debut album earlier this week, British electro-R&B duo AlunaGeorge were topping the British charts with a collaborative dance track called "White Noise." Now, the duo's full-length Body Music is out -- and it's getting some pretty positive attention. Katherine St. Asaph, who wrote about the band for MTV Hive, joins us to explain why the band is blowing up, and what the album holds. 

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    Song Of The Summer 2013 Contenders

    Friday, May 10, 2013

    Love it or hate it, Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe", was undeniably last year's song of the summer. The chart-topper had every ingredient for summer success: it was sugary, singable, and -- most importantly -- infectious.

    Although summer 2013 has yet to arrive, the unofficial song of the summer race is already heating up. Amanda Dobbins, associate editor for New York Magazine's Vulture blog, guides us through her list of the early contenders. 

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    Marques Toliver: Genre-Bursting Violin, In The Studio

    Thursday, May 02, 2013

    The violinist and songwriter Marques Toliver makes a compelling hybridized sound, where classical, pop and R&B meet.

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    Cody ChesnuTT Lands On A Hundred

    Tuesday, February 26, 2013

    Singer-songwriter Cody ChesnuTT released his debut album, The Headphone Masterpiece, in 2002 -- a bedroom-produced outpouring that earned him critical accolades and a nomination for the Shortlist Music Prize. A song from that album, "The Seed," even ended up being re-recorded on The Roots’ album Phrenology.

    It took ten years, but in 2012 ChesnuTT returned with his long-awaited follow-up full-length, Landing On A Hundred. ChesnuTT joins Soundcheck in The Greene Space to play some of his latest material, accompanying himself on piano and guitar.

    He also talked with us us about how much of his new music is autobiographical, particularly the confessional song "Everybody's Brother" which includes lyrics like "I used to smoke crack back in the day" and "I used to walk out on my family."

    "It's a good mashup of my own personal stories and stories that I've experienced through family members and community," he said. "But doggin' the nice ladies, or shifting the blame, or rejecting accountability -- I'm guilty of those things." 

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    The Man Behind The Headband: Who Is Frank Ocean?

    Wednesday, February 13, 2013

    Writer Jeff Himmelman, who recently interviewed the elusive singer for the New York Times Magazine, talks about the decision-making process behind Ocean's Grammys song selection, and to paint a clearer picture of the man behind the headband.

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    The Relatives: Gospel Funk, Live In The Greene Space

    Monday, January 21, 2013

    The Relatives perform live in a special video webcast from the Greene Space at WNYC.

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    José James: Jazz Meets R&B, Live In The Greene Space

    Thursday, January 17, 2013

    José James bridges jazz and R&B in a live session from the Greene Space at WNYC. The singer talks about his new album, No Beginning No End, explains how he came to jazz through hip-hop, and reveals what's happening underneath his Yankees cap.

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    Miguel: Stripped-Down R&B At The Tiny Desk

    Wednesday, January 09, 2013

    Miguel, the emerging R&B star, delivers a charming and pared down set in this Tiny Desk Concert from NPR Music.

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    Adele Tops Sales Again, Miguel At The Tiny Desk, Zach Brock

    Wednesday, January 09, 2013

    Adele's blockbuster 2011 album 21 was the top-selling album 2012. Miguel performs a stripped down set at the Tiny Desk. And Zach Brock brings jazz violin to the Soundcheck studio.

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    A Dramatic "Climax" and Swans' Comeback: Ann Powers' 2012 Music Survey

    Friday, December 28, 2012

    From a cringe-worthy "Roofie anthem" to an emerging Americana artist, NPR Music critic Ann Powers shares her answers to our 2012 Music Survey. 

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    A Year For Newcomers: Sowmya Krishnamurthy's 2012 Music Survey

    Wednesday, December 26, 2012

    Hip hop journalist Sowmya Krishnamurthy says 2012 was all about newcomers -- namely, the young rapper Kendrick Lamar, and R&B singers The Weeknd and Frank Ocean.

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    Bettye Lavette Is 'Thankful N' Thoughtful' In New Memoir

    Monday, December 03, 2012

    R&B singer Bettye Lavette talks about the ups and downs of her fifty-year career, as detailed in a new memoir, called A Woman Like Me. And, she reflects on her recent successes, including a new album called Thankful N Thoughtful.

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