GPB Loves Music

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America’s musical traditions are deeply rooted in African music, and one of the very first African musical traditions to come to North America is what we now call the Ring Shout.

The rhythmic call and response singing came with people from West Africa brought to the Southern coast as slaves. Today it is practiced by their descendants, the Gullah and Geechee people of the South Carolina and Georgia coast.


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Before Outkast, Goodie Mobb and T.I. burst out of Georgia, there was Blind Willie McTell and James Brown.  Before Trisha Yearwood, Alan Jackson and Jason Aldean stepped onto the country music scene, Brenda Lee and Chet Atkins were changing the sound of country music altogether.

What unifies those musical giants? Georgia. On Second Thought embarked on an audio tour of the dense and diverse musical roots of Georgia, from Ma Rainey and the Skillet Lickers to Emmett Miller and Otis Redding.


Grant Blankenship / GPB

Paul Van Wicklen drives a cherry picker in a library.

It’s actually a vault, and Van Wicklen is the vault manager. The cherry picker makes its way down an enormous aisle underneath the University of Georgia’s Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library. There are two other rooms just like it.


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From Vincent Van Gogh to Charli XCX, many accomplished artists are thought to have synesthesia, or the blending of two or more senses. Atlanta-based sensory artist Siana Altiise also has synesthesia, and she feels compelled to use her unique perspective to create musical experiences meant to relax people.

Siana joined On Second Thought to share how she builds her meditative tracks based on both the psychology of attention and her personal experiences with synesthesia. 


White House Historical Association

Jimmy Carter is known for many things: Building affordable houses, helping to cure diseases, brokering peace… the list goes on.

What you may not know him for is music.

But the 94-year-old campaigned with the Allman Brothers, brought jazz to the White House and sang hymns with Willie Nelson.


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On a recent Sunday evening, the sound of Negro spirituals echoed through the halls of the music building at Kennesaw State University.

The six members of the Georgia Spiritual Ensemble gather here regularly to partake in a tradition that dates back centuries.


Frank Gargani

The first wave of punk rock growled out of the economic and social malaise of New York and London in the mid-1970s. But Los Angeles played a huge role in what came next, when punk's energetic D.I.Y. ethos began to diversify, cross genres and sprawl like the vast city itself.

One of the groups that sprouted in that time was the seminal punk band X. Three years ago, X's singer and bassist John Doe and music publisher Tom DeSavia pulled together first-hand accounts of the nascent scene from members of LA's tight-knit punk community. The resulting book, Under The Big Black Sun, was nominated for a Grammy.


Grant Blankenship / GPB

Back in 2016, REM bassist Mike Mills stood on the stage at Macon’s City Auditorium. In his hands was a relic of rock and roll that once belonged to one of his idols.

“This is Duane Allman’s guitar. I don't even know what to do with it!” Mills said between movements of the rock concerto he was performing with violinist Robert McDuffie.

Derek and the Dominoes’ "Layla" was a hit on the radio when Mills was 12 so he knew exactly what to do. He took his best shot at Allman’s stinging "Layla" lick on the 1957 Gold Top Les Paul.

Credit: Jeff Forney

Music Midtown begins Saturday! This year, 25 years after it first began, the two-day festival will feature acts like Travis Scott, Cardi B, Lizzo and Vampire Weekend. And on Sunday at 1 p.m., you can catch Atlanta locals, The Coathangers.

First, drummer Stephanie Luke and bassist Meredith Franco, two members of the garage punk trio, joined On Second Thought to talk about how they started playing music together, what it's like being an all-female punk band in the music industry and what "punk" means to them.

 


Trisha Yearwood

Grammy Award-winning artist and Monticello, Georgia, native Trisha Yearwood is returning to the country music scene with a new album, titled Every Girl.

The accompanying single, "Every Girl In This Town," is an empowering love letter to girls and women of every description. 


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Some of the most popular artists in the country will be in Atlanta's Piedmont Park this weekend for Music Midtown.

 

Travis Scott will be one of the headliners on Sunday, along with Vampire Weekend and Billie Eilish.

 

Cardi B. and Panic! At The Disco will be featured on Saturday. 

 

CLICK: Full schedule for Music Midtown 2019

 

From the Civil War to the Dust Bowl and from baseball to jazz, Ken Burns documentaries have covered a range of critical events in American history and culture. Now, country music is getting the Ken Burns treatment. 

He and long-time collaborators and producers Dayton Duncan and Julie Dunfey spent eight years researching and making an eight-part, 16-hour documentary called Country Music, which will air in six parts beginning Sunday, Sept. 15 on GPB.


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This fall, Georgia State College of Law University is offering "The Legal Life of Ludacris" — a course examining the strategic legal decisions and contracts that supported his career as a rapper, actor, philanthropist and restaurateur. 

It's the brainchild of GSU entertainment law professor, Moraima "Mo" Ivory, who's the head of the school's "Entertainment, Sports and Media Law Initiative." Ivory spoke with On Second Thought host Virginia Prescott about the now full class. 


GEOFF L. JOHNSON / SAVANNAH MORNING NEWS

The Savannah Philharmonic Orchestra's new season begins this Saturday, Sept. 14, with a new music director: Keitaro "Kei" Harada. 

Harada grew up in Tokyo, but he's no stranger to Georgia. He studied at Mercer University in Macon, where he was assistant conductor of the Macon Symphony. After that, he picked up the baton for four seasons as associate conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony. 


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Jontavious Willis got his start singing gospel in his hometown of Greenville, Georgia, but something clicked inside him when he heard the blues.

His second album, Spectacular Class, came out earlier this year. Critics and blues artists hailed it and declared him a wunderkind and genius who proves the blues is very much alive.


Credit: Eat Humans

The annual Music Midtown festival takes place this weekend. Through its 25 year history — it launched in 1994 — A-list acts like Coldplay, Pearl Jam, Elton John and Drake have all taken to the festival's stages.

This year, performing musicians include Travis Scott, Vampire Weekend, Billie Eilish and Lizzo. Atlanta native Faye Webster will be among them. First, she joined On Second Thought to talk about how, while still only in her early 20s, she's already released her third album — and to tell us about her musical journey along the way.


David Dodson

Mac Powell is an Atlanta-based multi-platinum Grammy-winning artist. His band, Mac Powell and the Family Reunion, recently released their new single, Back Again. 

Mac and the Family Reunion are now on tour, performing songs from the debut album, Back Again. Before his Atlanta performance, Powell added two songs to our Georgia Playlist.


Georgia Public Broadcasting

2019 is a big year for Atlanta hip-hop duo EarthGang. Earlier this year, their label, Dreamville — that's rapper J. Cole's Interscope Records imprint — released a multi-artist album called Revenge of the Dreamers 3. It debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's Top 200 albums chart.

And Friday, they drop their own Dreamville project into the world: the highly anticipated album Mirrorland


On Second Thought For Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019

Sep 4, 2019

Hip-hop is often singled out for not having a great track record when it comes to the objectification of women, but research seeks to shine a new light on the genre. As we kick off Music Month on Georgia Public Broadcasting, hear from Lakeyta Bonnette-Bailey and Nadia Brown, two researchers examining political rap’s influence on feminist attitudes.

Brian Robbins / Robbins Photography

Whether it's the twang of a blues tune, the finger-picking of a folk song, or the shredding in heavy metal music, the guitar is central to our concept of popular music. But how does the design — the look, sound and feel — play into how a guitar becomes iconic?

Right now, the Museum of Design Atlanta, otherwise known as MODA, has an exhibition exploring exactly that. It's called "Wire & Wood: Designing Iconic Guitars" and it's on display until Sept. 29.


Photo by Emilia Brock

The newest Ken Burns series premiering in September follows the vast and varied evolution of country music over the 20th century. The eight-part series begins not in Nashville, nor Bristol, but Atlanta.

That's because, in 1923, OKeh Records music pioneer Ralph Peer came from New York to the South and set up a temporary recording studio smack dab in downtown Atlanta at 152 Nassau Street. That's where he recorded early country, blues, jazz and gospel artists, including what is known as country music's first hit, "The Little Old Log Cabin in the Lane" by Fiddlin' John Carson. 

Credit: MARTA

MARTA is considering renaming five train stations in Atlanta. It's an effort to keep up with changes in the city and to reflect surrounding neighborhoods.

One station proposed to be re-christened: Bankhead. The area was named after the highway that ran through it, which was in turn named after an Alabama family. But the Bankhead name is perhaps more closely associated with the torrent of rap and hip hop that grew from Atlanta's Westside and nearby neighborhoods. So, what's in the name "Bankhead"?


Album Cover Photo By Art Rosenbaum

"Corridos" are a traditional form of storytelling through song, which became widely popular during the Mexican Revolution. They often tell stories of history, oppression, the common human experience and cultural heroes. These songs chronicle life (and sometimes death) in an easily shared and consumed format.

A new album by Athens-based musician and activist Beto Cacao carries on the tradition of this musical form. It's called Undocorridos: Songs of the Stories and Struggles of the Undocumented in the USA


Stills from Parallel Love: The Story of a Band Called Luxury

Going from punk rock to the priesthood is not a common progression. Then again, Georgia band Luxury never followed the rules.

A new film called Parallel Love: The Story of a Band Called Luxury follows the Toccoa and Athens group through their brush with death and, eventually, three members becoming Eastern Orthodox priests. The documentary feature makes its Georgia premiere at the Plaza Theatre in Atlanta on Wednesday, June 19 and at Ciné in Athens on Thursday, June 20.


Credit: Casey Doran

Rose Hotel is not a hotel at all. It's a band. But that doesn't mean that their tunes won't make you dream, with their lo-fi, bedroom indie-pop sound. It's the music project of Atlanta-based singer-songwriter Jordan Reynolds. 

Rose Hotel's debut LP, called I Will Only Come When It's A Yes, is out today. There is an album release concert Friday at 529 in East Atlanta Village. First, Reynolds joined On Second Thought to add to our Georgia Playlist of songs written or performed by a Georgian. She selected "SpottieOttieDopaliscious" by Outkast and "Keep the Change" by Mattiel.


Credit: Gregory Miller

Even if you can't put your finger on it, Takénobu's music might sound familiar to you. That's because the "cinematic folk" from the classically trained Atlanta locals is frequently used on NPR shows and in video or film, including the new documentary 42 Grams.

 

Credit: Matt Correia

You may have heard Curtis Harding's voice before, perhaps without realizing it. That's because, for a number of years, he worked with a familiar Atlanta native: CeeLo Green. Harding sang back-up vocals for CeeLo and even co-wrote songs with the Grammy Award-winning musician, like "Grand Canyon" — which was a bonus track on CeeLo's 2010 album, The Lady Killer

After that and several other collaborations, Harding launched his solo career, applying his distinctive falsetto vocals to his own style of music, which he calls "slop 'n' soul."

Credit: Jackie Lee Young

Upon first listen, you may not realize that the dreamy indie-pop music of Philadelphia-based Japanese Breakfast was inspired by grief.

 

Michelle Zauner, the woman behind the songs, began the project while navigating her mother's battle with cancer, and mourning her death. Both of Japanese Breakfast's albums — 2016's Psychopomp and 2017's Soft Sounds From Another Planet — were an exploration of that pain and sadness. That does not mean the albums sound morose, though.

 

 

 


Credit: Yana Yatsuk

Atlanta's own Black Lips is a band that keeps audiences on their toes, literally — which you'd know if you've ever landed in the mosh pit at one of their shows — and figuratively, given that the latest it-bag line from Gucci is named after band member Zumi Rosow. 

For 20 years, founding members Cole Alexander and Jared Swilley have been making unruly garage rock, rockabilly records, and sometimes, they can sound like old country crooners. They are currently on a short U.S. tour, but will return to Atlanta just in time to hit the stage on the first day of the 2019 Shaky Knees Music Festival, which begins Friday, May 3.


Credit: Jeff Forney

With a curled lip and a graveled voice, Atlanta-based band The Coathangers will tell you what they think. Their gritty garage music incorporates influences that range from early punk to the golden oldies of rock 'n' roll. And yet, their lyrics are undeniably modern. The trio's new album, The Devil You Know, features songs that address current social issues like drug addiction and gun control.

We asked two members of The Coathangers, Meredith Franco and Julia Kugel, to add to our Georgia Playlist of songs written or performed by a Georgian. Their picks? "Frankenstein" by Subsonics and "Bad Kids" by Black Lips.


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