A tambourine jingled merrily and spirits were high when Afro Blue visited NPR's Studio 1 to share a brilliant assortment of holiday music. The group delighted the audience with fresh, thoughtful arrangements of Christmas favorites, from a rollicking "Angels We Have Heard On High" to a sublime, weighty "Silent Night." Also on the bill were a few lesser-known holiday numbers, such as director Connaitre Miller's original piece "That Is Love," which offers a meditation on the meaning of the holiday season.
"Put your hand on the chest / of a heart that is beating."
That line, from The Barr Brothers' new album Sleeping Operator, might as well be the Montreal band's mission statement. While the new songs mix acoustic folk-rock, electrified blues, lush chamber-pop, traditional West African styles and other influences, each conveys immediate emotive force.
This is especially true of "Come In The Water," a song inspired by the tragic 1997 shooting of Israeli teens along the Jordan River. It's lovingly performed here in the intimate confines of a KEXP studio.
Originally published on Mon December 15, 2014 3:15 pm
On Saturday, actor Samuel L. Jackson posted a clip on his Facebook page calling on celebrities who participated in the ice bucket challenge to support ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, to now join him in another action: singing in protest of the choking death of Eric Garner by a white police officer in New York City
Originally published on Tue December 16, 2014 10:40 am
Only a dozen states allow schools to charge for bus service but the number is expected to grow.
Parents in Indiana have filed a lawsuit, now before the state Supreme Court, arguing that bus fees violate the state’s constitutional guarantee to a free education. But state officials across the country say budget cuts have severely hampered their ability to continue to provide transportation and other services for free.
Indiana officials also say that caps on property taxes approved by voters in 2008 have also cut into school funds.
Over the past week, lawmakers’ have scrambled to finish the fiscal 2015 budget. Now the 113th Congress is headed out, but before then, economists are looking back at what Congress accomplished for the U.S. economy during its two-year session.
Many say lawmakers did not do much to help your wallet, but the 113th Congress is not without some achievements, such as cutting spending enough to make meaningful progress on the budget deficit and passing a farm bill.
Originally published on Mon December 15, 2014 2:51 pm
Denmark, together with Greenland, today will claim around 350,000 square miles of the continental shelf in the Arctic Ocean, in an area around the North Pole that is slightly larger than the size of Texas and Oklahoma combined.
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For this edition of our holiday special we turn to the healing and uplifting power of the human voice with the Washington, D.C.-based group, Cantigas. The group's 25 members assembled in NPR's Studio 1 in front of a live audience to present an eclectic mix of songs and rhythms from Mexico, Spain, Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, Peru, Cuba and Puerto Rico–the home country of its artistic director, Diana Sáez.
Originally published on Mon December 15, 2014 7:23 pm
It seems there are fewer armchair socialists — or their right-wing counterparts — than there are armchair centrists according to a study published in BMJ, the former British Medical Journal, as part of its annual tongue-in-cheek Christmas edition.
Originally published on Mon December 15, 2014 2:46 pm
Long before there were online dating sites, such as eHarmony, Match or OKCupid, there was a curious offline custom in America known as New Year's Calling.
In the 19th century, young single women in New York City; Washington, D.C., and other cities and towns across the country would hold open houses on Jan. 1 and invite eligible bachelors — friends and strangers — to stop by for a brief visit and some light refreshments.
Often the women posted ads — which included their names, addresses and visiting hours — in the local newspaper. This was communitywide speed dating.
Originally published on Mon December 15, 2014 12:57 pm
For two decades Atlanta restaurant owner Jim Dunn offered a group health plan to his managers and helped pay for it. That ended Dec. 1, after the Affordable Care Act made him an offer he couldn't refuse.
Subsidies under the health law for workers to buy their own coverage combined with years of rising costs in the company plan made dropping the plan an obvious — though not easy — choice.