KRWG

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.

From the 1970s to the early '80s, ABBA scored a string of massive global hits with songs like "Mamma Mia," "Dancing Queen" and so many more. They were pioneers in many ways — one of the first groups to make music videos, sell their work on CD and, later, to create a Broadway musical based on their hits.

It's taken a while, but Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson, Agnetha Fältskog and Anni-Frid Lyngstad are back with a new album, the appropriately titled Voyage, and plans for a high-tech new experiment in London.

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.

Mark Ramos Nishita, better known as Money Mark, is 61 and lives in LA surrounded by his massive collection of instruments – guitars and recording gear including more than 70 Casio keyboards. Nishita is sometimes called the "fourth Beastie Boy" for his songwriting and touring work with the group, including keyboard contributions you may recognize from Check Your Head and Ill Communication.

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.

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.

The Morning Edition Song Project, in which musicians compose an original song about the COVID-19 era, returns this week with New Orleans group Tank and the Bangas. When NPR first approached the band over the summer, the pandemic and the George Floyd protests were dominating the news. Asked to compose some music that put her feelings about the words into words, singer Tarriona "Tank" Ball responded with a song simply called "Feelings."

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.

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.