Blues

The way recording engineer Michael Reilly tells it in the liner notes of Panola County Spirit, Raymond Walker, the eightysomething patriarch of the Walker Family of Como, Mississippi, was always a singer of some renown. In fact, he was once the leader of a locally legendary (though never recorded) gospel vocal group called The Longtime Travelers.

Shemekia Copeland On World Cafe

Jan 28, 2016

Shemekia Copeland, daughter of the late bluesman Johnny Clyde Copeland, got her start when she first took the stage with him at age 8; she released her first album 10 years later. In this session, she explains that she's always had a powerful voice, but had to learn the subtleties of singing.

In this episode, Copeland performs at WXPN's Free At Noon concert, where she sings songs from her latest album, Outskirts Of Love.

On "Ain't No Grave," a track from his new solo album, the singer-guitarist Luther Dickinson stares death right in the face, quite literally.

Shawn Amos had a Los Angeles childhood that was equal parts grit and glamor. He went to private schools and lived in a nice house, but it wasn't exactly in Mr. Rogers' neighborhood.

Son Little is the embodiment of the truism that most overnight successes take years. Around Philadelphia, the singer/guitarist who goes by his given name Aaron Livingston has been a known entity at least since (his words) "mumbling/freestyling/singing the hook" on The Roots' "Guns Are Drawn," a dubwise track from the group's 2004 album The Tipping Point.

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.

Jeffrey Foucault picked up a guitar when he was 17 and just couldn't put it down. Coming of age in Wisconsin, he used every spare moment cooking up new songs and immediately making recordings so he wouldn't forget the details.

Walter Trout has been playing and sometimes living the blues for five decades. The guitarist was with Canned Heat in the early 1980s, shared the stage and recorded with John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers and sold millions of albums as a solo artist, but drugs and alcohol almost did him in. He was just days away from death last year when he received a liver transplant, an experience he recounts in a song called "Gonna Live Again."

All of Marisa Anderson's music has travelled thousands of miles. This is literally true — the Portland, Ore. guitarist spent her late teens and twenties walking across the United States — and it's one of her gifts as a musician. She revels in the journey, in the process that of getting from point A to point B.

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