WXXI AM News

Music

Fans and critics of Kanye West are reacting to the rapper's recent comments about political figures and slavery. West has tweeted about his support for President Trump and right-wing figures, and has said slavery was a "choice."

In a piece in the Atlantic Monthly, writer Ta-Nehisi Coates argues that West wants a "white freedom," and is distancing himself from blackness. West argues that he's a "free thinker."

We talk to local musicians, music writers, and music lovers about West's comments, the criticism, and whether West has lost touch with his roots. In studio:

Do professional musicians want us to stop using Spotify and other streaming services? A fresh analysis of what artists gets paid paints a rather bleak picture. We'll talk to local artists who are trying to break through. Our guests:

Mary Gauthier is a country musician who recently said that she wasn't sober until she was 27, and couldn't write until she was 30. Twenty-five years later, she's an unlikely voice for veterans. Gauthier's newest album includes songs co-written with veterans. The songs explore a range of subjects, including the service of women in uniform, and the pain of loss.

Gauthier will perform in Rochester Tuesday night, but first she's our guest on Connections.

The Rochester Music Hall of Fame is inducting its 2018 class. We talk to three of the inductees — some of the greatest musicians of all time. They discuss their process, their time working with fellow greats in music, and what it means to them to be in the Rochester Music Hall of Fame.

In studio:

  • Steve Gadd, drummer of choice of Paul Simon, James Taylor, and Eric Clapton
  • Tony Levin, bassist for Peter Gabriel and King Crimson
  • John Beck, professor emeritus at the Eastman School of Music
  • Tracy Kroft, vice president-elect of the Rochester Music Hall of Fame

The RPO's 96th season will include music from the classic repertoire, as well as programming aimed at the family. We sit down with music director Ward Stare and Curt Long, the new CEO.

Our conversation includes the criticism that some orchestras have received for not featuring enough music by women and people of color -- something the RPO says it is addressing this season. Our guests:

Webster native Kate Lee won a Grammy award in 2017 as part of the O'Connor Band, which won for Best Bluegrass Album. Lee has become a standout lead vocalist and violinist, and she plays alongside her husband Forrest O'Connor.

They're in Rochester this week, giving lessons to Webster students, and playing a concert on Friday night at the Eastman theater. But first, they're our guests on Connections.

You can find videos of the O'Connor Band here

Whatever happened to Obama-era pop music? According to the New Yorker, it's already dated, even embarrassing. Matthew Trammell argues that music reflects the cultural and political mood, and already pop music has moved on from the buoyant, fizzy hits like Katy Perry's "Firework." Is that fair?

Our guests discuss the ways music does, and does not, capture the current mood. In studio:

An upcoming multimedia performance at The Little Theatre will tackle a number of social themes. Danielle Ponder is the lead singer of Danielle Ponder and the Tomorrow People, and on December 1, she and her band will introduce audience members to places and experiences that have inspired Ponder in her work as a storyteller, and also as a public defender. The performance, called "For the Love of Justice," will explore issues related to feminism, criminal justice, personal liberation, and racial justice, all under the theme of love.

We preview the concert and discuss the experiences that inspired it. In studio:

  • Danielle Ponder, criminal defense attorney and lead singer of Danielle Ponder and the Tomorrow People
  • Doug Ackley, executive director of Teen Empowerment
  • Marcus Cooper, cyclist who works in sales at Park Ave Bike Shop, and an emcee

In modern media, success usually means following up with the same thing that brought success. Music, television -- think about why the characters on Friends only became caricatures of themselves. But 25 years ago, a band went against the popular grain.

R.E.M. had found massive commercial success with their 1991 hits like "Stand" and "Shiny Happy People." Suddenly, just as popular as Madonna, the band had a chance to fire off more and similar hits. But their 1992 album, Automatic for the People, is one of the darker pop albums of the era. Songs about suicide prevention and tragedy were not exactly what the producers were hoping for, but the band stayed with their vision. Is there a lesson there? We examine with our guests:

What would it sound like if a number of local musicians all wrote their own versions of a song with the same title? Music fans will be able to hear more than 20 original takes on the title "How Did We Get Here" during a special concert next week at Hochstein Performance Hall. It's part of an event appropriately titled, "If All Rochester Wrote the Same Song."

We preview some of those versions and talk about the song writing process with our guests. In studio:

Pages