NPR Music

Between songs at her soundcheck at PUBLIC ARTS, the venue attached to Ian Schrager's PUBLIC hotel in downtown Manhattan, Jamila Woods is quick to pull out her phone. For the Chicago-based singer, it isn't a sign of disengagement; in fact, it's just the opposite. As her musical star has risen, Woods has held onto her full-time job as the Associate Artistic Director at Young Chicago Authors. She teaches, writes curricula and trains teachers at the non-profit, and is still coordinating via email, even as she takes vacation to promote her album's re-release on Jagjaguwar Records.

Anyone who has heard Jamila Woods' music knows she's an extraordinary artist. In our inaugural edition of Slingshot, you'll also learn what an extraordinary person she is, too.

Woods' lyrics depict a childhood spent growing up black on the south side of Chicago — emphasis on growing up. Her debut album, HEAVN, combines familiar playground double-dutch rhythms alongside references to Toni Morrison folk-tale collections. She is part poet and part professor.

The Barr Brothers — siblings Brad and Andrew Barr, along with harpist Sarah Pagé – are set to release a new album, Queens Of The Breakers, via Secret City Records on Oct. 13.

Where cultures converge, great music happens. Last Sunday night three of the biggest acts in Latin Alternative music were brought together at the historic Hollywood Bowl amphitheater in a rare and brilliant line-up, as part of the Getty-led Pacific Standard Time LA/LA to create dialogue between Latin American arts and Los Angeles.

This essay is one in a series celebrating deserving artists or albums not included on NPR Music's list of 150 Greatest Albums By Women.

When you see and hear a performance by Mandy Harvey, one of the final ten contestants in the latest round of America's Got Talent, the first thing you notice is her voice. Look down at her feet, though, and you might also notice she's not wearing shoes.

Gucci Mane has an extensive resume. As a founding father of trap music, Mane's been carving out the rap genre since 2001 when he put out his first underground release: Str8 Drop Records Presents Gucci Mane La Flare. Since then, he has amassed a long list of musical achievements: dozens of mixtapes, singles, collaborations and eight studio albums.

Some people float through change; others aggressively swim. Still others find themselves deeply challenged to find ways to follow a current that can carry them to a safe shore. The Lone Bellow, the Brooklyn-born trio of Zach Williams, Kanene Donehy Pipkin and Brian Elmquist, negotiated many changes while making its third album, Walk into a Storm. Babies were born; a close friend of the band committed suicide. One member sought and found a way to deal with alcohol addiction.

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