Carmen Linares, born Carmen Pacheco Rodríguez in 1951 in Jaén, Spain, is one of the world's finest flamenco singers. In 1965, Linares moved with her family to Madrid, where her career began. Linares, who has shared the stage with Camarón, Perla de Cádiz, El Güito, José Mercé, Paco Cepero, and others, is among the first flamenco artists to appear at Lincoln Center, where she performed "El Amor Brujo" at the invitation of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. Her many accolades include first prize in the Festival Nacional de Cante de las Minas de La Unión (1978), Silver Medal of the Board of Andalusia (1998), and National Music Prize (2001). In 2002 she recorded A Bunch of Madness, which was nominated for the Grammy Latino in 2003. In 2006 she was honored with the Gold Medal of Bellas Artes. The title "La Gabriela (Tientos)," from the 1988 album Latin Essentials, Vol. 17: Carmen Linares = riches of heart and passion.
Artist: Carmen Linares
Song: La Gabriela (Tientos)
Album: Latin Essentials, Vol. 17: Carmen Linares
Artist Elliott Smith is one of our late great treasures. Born Steven Paul Smith on August 6, 1969, in Omaha, Nebraska. By the time he was a year old, his parents divorced. Mother and baby Smith relocated to Duncanville, Texas (near Dallas), where he was raised. His father was a shrink, his grandfather a Dixieland jazz drummer, and his grandmother a glee-club singer. He started piano at age 9, and wrote his first song at the age of 10, eventually picking up the clarinet and guitar. Smith's life was sorrowfully cut short in 2003 by a stab wound shrouded in mystery amidst rumors of murder/suicide. The posthumously released recordings of the New Moon collection contain 24 of Smith's gut-wrenching gems rescued from oblivion by producer Larry Crane. Getting to hear the private seeds of the genius' work is a real privilege. Truly, a majestic songwriter. Try "Angel in the Snow," but get the full album.
Genre: Folk Pop
Artist: Elliott Smith
Song: Angel in the Snow
Album: New Moon
Writer, rapper, producer, remixer Rollie Pemberton, a.k.a. Cadence Weapon, was born in 1986 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, into a musical family. His father, DJ Teddy Pemberton of Brooklyn, New York, was the mastermind behind "The Black Sound Experience" on CSJR radio at the University of Alberta in 1980, introducing hip hop to Edmonton. As a teenager, Rollie couldn't fight the music in his DNA, but went to J-school in Virginia, at his mother's request, and put his skills to work writing for Brooklyn-based music webzine Stylus and Pitchfork Media. Breaking Kayfabe, Cadence Weapon's 2005 debut album, was nominated for the first Polaris Music Prize in 2006. The title "Black Hand" is just kinda great.
Genre: Hip Hop
Artist: Cadence Weapon
Song: Black Hand
Album: Breaking Kayfabe
Legendary Delta trailblazing bluesman and Ur-rock 'n' roller Charlie Patton was born in 1891 in a small town in Mississippi. By the age of 9, his love of music began. By his early teens, he picked up the guitar, started singing, and then learned slide. Tired of the sharecropper's life, Patton set off to make his mark as a traveling musician, ultimately building up a fan base on the road in Georgia, Illinois, Tennessee, and Texas. Patton found freedom in music, and was determined to leave the racism of the South behind. A true rocker, Patton would play his guitar behind his back and beat on it like drum, making a lot of hullabaloo. Patton's influence can be heard in such blues artists as Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters, and John Lee Hooker. He is said to have married eight times and died of heart failure in 1934, at the age of 42. Patton was inducted into The Blues Foundation's Hall of Fame in 1980. He leaves us with his throaty, unfiltered, honest greatness with the title "Down the Dirt Road Blues," from the album Charley Patton Volume 1 (1929).
Artist: Charley Patton
Song: Down the Dirt Road Blues
Album: Charley Patton Volume 1 (1929)
Aloud is the ardent indie-rock quartet founded in Boston by Henry Beguiristain (lead vocals/guitar/keys), Jen de la Osa (lead vocals/guitar/keys), Roy Fontaine (bass/background vocals), and Ross Lohr (drums/percussion). Beguiristain and De la Osa grew up together and have been writing partners since their teens. Their high-energy female and male vocal leads are ear-catching, and their melodies sink in. The title "Fan the Fury," from the band's second release Fan the Fury (2008), has kick and spirit.
Song: Fan the Fury
Album: Fan the Fury
A Tribe Called Quest
A Tribe Called Quest was founded in 1985 in Queens, New York, by emcee/producer Q-Tip (Jonathan Davis), rapper Phife Dawg (a.k.a. Malik Taylor), and Brooklyn writer/producer Ali Shaheed Muhammad. (Rapper Jarobi White has been an occasional member.) In 1989, they got their big break, signing with Jive Records. This critically acclaimed, Grammy-nominated multi-platinum trio's sophisticated jazz-infused alternative hip hop was groundbreaking, paving the way for The Fugees, Kanye West, The Neptunes, and Common, among others. Some of their collaborations include De La Soul, Janet Jackson, and Faith Evans. A Tribe Called Quest recorded five albums before parting company in 1998 for solo careers. The trio got back together and toured the States in 2006. The title "I Left My Wallet in El Segundo," from the 1990 release Peoples' Instinctive Travels & the Paths of Rhythm, is classic classic.
Genre: Hip Hop
Artist: A Tribe Called Quest
Song: I Left My Wallet in El Segundo
Album: Peoples' Instinctive Travels & the Paths of Rhythm