Marques Toliver is an R&B singer, but his music is equally anchored around the violin, on which he is classically trained. He says he discovered the instrument on the first day of his fifth-grade music class — and in a way, the violin chose him.
"There were just tons of instruments, and basically you had to run to that seat, with whatever instrument was in there — and that's what instrument you would play for the year," he explains. "I was just flabbergasted by the fact that there were, like, cellos and violas. Up until that point I had only seen them in pictures."
Host Scott Simon speaks with New York Times classical music critic Anthony Tommasini about conductor James Levine's return to the Metropolitan Opera after a series of health problems kept him away for two years.
Ana Popovic's fiery technique on her Fender Telecaster has earned her an impressive nickname: "The Serbian Scorcher."
Popovic grew up playing the blues in Belgrade during the turbulent time of the fall of communism and the dissolution of Yugoslavia. Her furious fret work and singing brought her to the attention of blues fans, first in Europe and then the United States. She lives in Memphis today, and has just released her ninth album, Can You Stand the Heat.
In the seven years since her last album, Audra McDonald has kept busy. She spent several years in Hollywood, filming the television series Private Practice. She's gotten divorced and remarried, absorbed the shock of losing her father in a plane crash and watched her daughter, Zoe, grow up from a kindergartener to a middle-schooler.
Singer-songwriter Steve Forbert makes his seventh appearance on Mountain Stage, recorded live on the campus of West Virginia University in Morgantown. Originally from Mississippi, Forbert relocated to New York City and scored a hit in the early '80s with "Romeo's Tune," and has been recording and performing steadily ever since.
Frightened Rabbit's Scott Hutchinson has been creating compelling, sometimes even uplifting, songs about abject failure since the Scottish band's first album, Sing the Greys, came out in 2006.
On this installment of World Cafe, Hutchinson tells host David Dye how the entire band was involved in writing lyrics for its new album, Pedestrian Verse. The singer also discusses Frightened Rabbit's unique experience during a recent tour of northern Scotland.
Rudresh Mahanthappa creates an explosive blend of South Indian classical music and progressive jazz. A Guggenheim Fellow who's been named the Jazz Journalists Association's "Alto Saxophonist of the Year" for four years running, Mahanthappa makes innovative music that reflects his experience as a second-generation Indian-American. He shares his fascinating style and story on this episode of Piano Jazz.