Support for The '60s: The Years that Changed America is provided by the Howard Gilman Foundation.
The last four years have brought dramatic changes for Snarky Puppy.
After a decade of relentless touring and recording in all but complete obscurity, the Texas-bred / New York–based quasi-collective suddenly found itself held up by the press and public as one of the major figures in the jazz world. But as the category names for all three of the band’s Grammy Awards would indicate (Best R&B Performance in 2014, Best Contemporary Instrumental Album in 2016 and 2017), Snarky Puppy isn’t exactly a jazz band. It’s not a fusion band, and it’s definitely not a jam band. It’s probably best to take Nate Chinen of The New York Times’ advice, as stated in an online discussion about the group, to “take them for what they are, rather than judge them for what they’re not.”
Snarky Puppy is a collective of sorts with as many as 25 members in regular rotation. They each maintain busy schedules as sidemen, producers, and solo artists (many of whom are on the band’s indy label, GroundUP Music).
At its core, the band represents the convergence of both black and white American music culture with various accents from around the world. Japan, Argentina, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Puerto Rico all have representation in the group’s membership. But more than the cultural diversity of the individual players, the defining characteristic of Snarky Puppy’s music is the joy of performing together in the perpetual push to grow creatively.
It’s a good time to be David Crosby. The two-time Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee is experiencing an unprecedented surge—not only in prolificacy, but in creativity.
Sky Trails, his third album of original material in four years, takes the fearless folk-rock legend in a new musical direction as the set tilts toward a full band sound with deep, soulful grooves.
Sky Trails follows his critically acclaimed Lighthouse—which received praise from Rolling Stone, Stereogum, and NPR Music—and was preceded by 2014’s Croz, Crosby’s first solo album in 20 years. Though Crosby wrote many of the songs for Sky Trails as he was working on Lighthouse, the two are distinctly different projects. “Lighthouse was conspicuously and deliberately acoustic,” Crosby says. “Sky Trails was intended to be a full band record from the start.”
In Crosby’s unparalleled six-decade career, the native Californian has created songs that resonate as indelible cultural touchstones for more than three generations—not only as a solo artist, but as a founding member of The Byrds in the mid ’60s; Crosby, Stills & Nash (recipients of the Grammy for Best New Artist in 1969); and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. He’s collaborated with dozens of artists, including Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour, Phil Collins, Elton John, and Carole King.
The folk-rock pioneer, who was inducted into the prestigious Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2009, has also served as our social conscience, not only eloquently writing about societal issues on such songs as “Almost Cut My Hair” and “Wooden Ships,” but continuously donating concert proceeds to likeminded causes. His towering influence and brilliant ability to capture the spirit of our times in his music remains undiminished.
The good news is that at 76, Crosby remains as engaged and energized as ever, with no end in sight. The creative floodgates that opened a few years ago continue to flow, and Crosby delights that the songs are still pouring forth.
In recent years, Fatoumata Diawara has become one of the most relevant female voices of the new African artistic generation. The singer, songwriter, and actress of Malian origin lives between France, Italy, and Mali. In 2011, she was sponsored by Ali Farka Touré and Oumou Sangaré’s label World Circuit, and her worldwide popularity came with the release of her first solo work, Fatou.
Although her first steps in the arts world were guided by her father, who invited her from an early age to participate in his African dance company, Diawara began her artistic career in Paris as an actress. She performed in the Sophocles play Antigone and later in the film Sia in Mali, then returned to Europe to become part of the theatrical company Royal de Luxe. With Royal de Luxe, she traveled the world and simultaneously began preparations for her own performances in different Parisian venues.
Throughout her career, Diawara has collaborated with a long list of artists, including Dee Dee Bridgewater, Rokia Traoré, Damon Albarn, Herbie Hancock, Bobby Womack, and Roberto Fonseca, among others. Throughout the past two years, she has been touring as a solo artist, appearing in film and documentary productions (Timbuktu and Mali Blues), and collaborating with artists such as Matthieu Chedid (aka “M”) and Hindi Zahra.
Diawara is currently working on her second international album, expected to be released in 2018.
British-born Laura Mvula’s debut album, Sing to the Moon, was released in 2013 to critical acclaim. After winning multiple MOBO Awards and receiving nominations for Ivor Novello and Brit awards, 2016 saw Mvula receive her second nomination for a Mercury Prize in three years for The Dreaming Room. Mvula’s latest album, The Dreaming Room is an expansion of what was an already captivating sound. The heavenly vocal layering, unexpected and complex diversions, and grandeur is complemented by analogue synths and electric guitar lines. If Sing to the Moon was the sound of a young artist honing her craft, The Dreaming Room can be described as the sound of a confident and accomplished lyricist, showing the progression of an artist who has truly come into her own.
Multiple Grammy Award winner and MacArthur Fellow Chris Thile—a member of Punch Brothers and Nickel Creek, and now the host of Live from Here (formerly A Prairie Home Companion)—is a mandolin virtuoso, composer, and vocalist. With his broad outlook that encompasses classical, rock, jazz, and bluegrass, Thile transcends the borders of conventionally circumscribed genres, creating a distinctly American canon and a new musical aesthetic for performers and audiences alike.
A child prodigy, Thile first rose to fame as a member of Grammy Award–winning trio Nickel Creek, with whom he released four albums and sold more than two million records. In 2014, along with a national tour, the trio released a new album, A Dotted Line—its first since 2005.
As a soloist, Thile has released several albums, including his most recent, Thanks for Listening—a collection of recordings produced by Thomas Bartlett that were originally written for the “Song of the Week” segment of A Prairie Home Companion. In February 2013, Thile won a Grammy for his work on The Goat Rodeo Sessions, collaborating with Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer, and Stuart Duncan. In September 2014, Thile and Meyer released their latest collaboration, Bass + Mandolin, which won the Grammy for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album. Punch Brothers released its latest album, The Phosphorescent Blues, in January 2015, and a follow up EP, The Wireless, in November of the same year. Most recently, Thile released a double-album with Brad Mehldau, Chris Thile & Brad Mehldau, and a collection of works by Bach with Ma and Meyer, Bach Trios.
Beginning in the fall of 2016, Thile took the helm of A Prairie Home Companion, a public radio favorite since 1974.