Justin Bieber apologizes to fans in a heartfelt Instagram Post

Sorry is more than the title of Bieber’s big hit. After the recent cancellation of the remaining dates from his Purpose World Tour at the end of July, Justin Bieber decided to explain to his fans the real reasons behind this decision.

The press speculated that Bieber’s involvement with the Hillsong Church and his allegiance to pastor Carl Lenz was the real reason behind this huge career move, but the popstar dedicated a very special Instagram post to clarify.

In his post today, Bieber said that he was working on himself and surrounding himself with people who would help him be the man he wants to be.

He wrote, “I am extremely blessed to have people in the past few years help me build my character back up reminding me of who I am and who I want to be!!!”

Bieber also added, “My past decisions and past relationships won’t dictate my future decisions and my future relationships. I’m VERY aware I’m never gonna be perfect, and I’m gonna keep making mistakes. I wanna be a man that learns from them and grows from them!! I want you all to know this tour has been unbelievable and has taught me so much about myself. I am reminded of how blessed I am to have a voice in this world. I’ve learned the more you appreciate your calling the more you want to protect your calling.”

And just in case people feared that the Grammy winner was leaving the music world behind, Bieber makes it clear that that he’s in it for the long haul but wants to make sure that he can have a better life in order to be a better performer and person.

“Me taking this time right now is me saying I want to be SUSTAINABLE. I want my career to be sustainable, but I also want my mind heart and soul to be sustainable so that I can be the man I want to be, the husband I eventually want to be and the father I want to be.”

In the lengthy post, Bieber adds, “This message is just an opportunity for you to know my heart, I’m not expecting anyone to understand, but I do want people to have an opportunity to know where I am coming from!”

A post shared by Justin Bieber (@justinbieber) on

Kesha releases “Praying,” her first single in four years

After four years of being forcefully kept away from the music scene, Kesha returns with “Praying”, the first single off her new album.

Despite her legal battles with music producer Dr. Luke, the artist is back and promises to be better than ever. In a Twitter video Wednesday, the singer told her fans, “Your support and love and kindness has gotten me through hands-down the hardest time of my entire life.”

Her song is definitely a message of defiance, that is indicative of her dispute with Dr. Luke, the producer with whom Kesha has been locked in a legal battle over abuse allegations since 2014.

The singer also released a music video directed by the renowned filmmaker Jonas Åkerlund. “In life, you’re gonna get what you give. But some things, only God can forgive,” she sings.

“I hope this song reaches people who are in the midst of struggles, to let them know that no matter how bad it seems now, you can get through it. If you have love and truth on your side, you will never be defeated,” the 30-year-old singer-songwriter said.

The ballad was co-written with Macklemore collaborator Ryan Lewis and is still credited to Luke’s Kemosabe Records (which he was recently ousted from by Sony). Right now it’s unclear whether he’ll still profit from it through publishing.

“This song is about coming to feel empathy for someone else even if they hurt you or scare you,” Kesha said in an accompanying essay in Lena Dunham’s newsletter Lenny Letter. “It’s a song about learning to be proud of the person you are even during low moments when you feel alone. It’s also about hoping everyone, even someone who hurt you, can heal.”

“Praying” is the first single from Kesha’s album “Rainbow”, out on August 11. It will feature collaborations with Dolly Parton (for a duet of her song “Old Flames Can’t Hold a Candle to You”) and Eagles of Death Metal, plus production from Ben Folds, and songwriting from Kesha’s own mom, Pebe Sebert, who was also involved in the legal dispute.

Adele cancels final two performances of her tour and hints that she’ll never tour again

After a grueling schedule, performing more that 120 shows in less than two years, Adele announced this past Friday that she is canceling the final two performances of her 2017 tour because of the damaged to her vocal chords.

“I don’t even know how to start this,” the singer wrote in an emotional Instagram post.

“I went to see my throat doctor this evening because my voice didn’t open up at all today and it turns out I have damaged my vocal cords,” she explained, adding that she was medically advised to stop performing. “To say I’m heartbroken would be a complete understatement.”

 

A post shared by Adele (@adele) on

Adele’s announcement comes right after two successful performances at the Wembley Stadium in London on June 28 and June 29, where she broke the record in attendance. And this news also appears to confirm the rumors that the singer will stop touring altogether.

In the program of the Wembley concerts, Adele included a handwritten note which suggested she would never tour again.

“I wanted my final shows to be in London because I don’t know if I’ll ever tour again and so I want my last time to be at home”, the Grammy Award winner said.

💌😢😭✒❤Photo by Traci @tracii_m Translation by @wannabeadkins Adele @Adele's letter from her your book! "So this is it after 15 months on the road and 18 months of 25 we are at the end. We have taken this tour across uk+ Ireland, throughout Europe, all over America and I finally got to go to Australia and New Zealand too. Touring is a peculiar thing, it doesn't suit me particularly well. I'm a real homebody and I get so much joy in the small things. Plus I'm dramatic and have a terrible history of touring. Until now that is! I've done 119 shows and these last 4 will take me up to 123, it has been hard out an absolute thrill and pleasure to have done. I only ever did this tour for you and to hopefully have an impact on you the way that some of my favourite artist have had on me live. And I wanted my final shows to be in London because I don't know if I'll ever tour again and so I want my last time to be at home. Thank you for coming, for all of your ridiculous love and kindness. I will remember all of this for the rest of my life. Love you. Goodnight for now" ❤️Adele #Adele #Adelettes #AdeleLive2017

A post shared by Adelettes©® (@adelettes) on

This is not the first time that the Tottenham native has had problems with her voice. The singer has suffered from a recurrent vocal chord hemorrhage, which forced her to cancel shows and undergo surgery in 2011.

Mariah Carey Has Blessed Us With a Christmas Edition Of ‘CARPOOL KARAOKE.’

It wouldn’t be the Christmas season without an energizing singalong to Mariah Carey’s Christmas exemplary, “All I Want For Christmas Is You.” Thankfully, James Corden has skilled us an occasion scene of “Carpool Karaoke” beyond anything we could ever imagine.

 

James welcomed Mariah herself to assist with his Christmas shopping. Normally, when they turned on the radio, just a single melody could play, and it was.

But this scene of ‘Carpool Karaoke’ had a turn. Not just was Mariah in the interest of personal entertainment, every one of the visitors on the demonstrate this year had furtively been shot singing “All I Want For Christmas Is You” with James. Adele, Lady Gaga, Selena Gomez, and even Chris Martin participate in the fun on account of a little time-traveling TV magic.

Niall Horan Gives One Update: ‘We Will Be Back.’

Discuss something to be appreciative for! thankful got an absolute early holiday treat throughout the end of the week when Niall Horan told a British outlet that the on-break gathering would “definitely” change, sooner or later. Addressing Sunday People, Horan apparently said of One Direction, “we will be back. We would be silly not to… ridiculous.” There is, of course, no timetable for that return.

Horan said the guys were “enjoying” their time off. “At the moment, we are all doing our own thing,” he said. “Harry wanted to do his movie, and everyone is just chilling… I don’t think anyone needs to worry about us we are fine.” A representative for Horan couldn’t come to shed further light on the comments.

Singer Niall Horan arrives at the 2016 American Music Awards in Los Angeles, California, U.S., November 20, 2016. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok
Singer Niall Horan arrives at the 2016 American Music Awards in Los Angeles, California, U.S., November 20, 2016. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok

The “extended hiatus” announced earlier has no complete end point, however meanwhile every part is keeping occupied, with Horan as of late discharging his introduction solo single, “This Town.” Harry Styles marked a recording contract with Columbia Records and has a part in the up and coming Christopher Nolan war film Dunkirk, Liam Payne marked with Capitol Records and has apparently been investing a great deal of energy in the studio while Louis Tomlinson seems to be simply relaxing and concentrating on his infant kid, Freddie Tomlinson.

Sharon Jones Dies at 60

Sharon Jones passed on Friday; her marketing specialist has affirmed. She was 60.

“We are deeply saddened to announce that Sharon Jones has passed away after a heroic battle against pancreatic cancer. She was surrounded by her loved ones, including the Dap-Kings,” said an announcement.

Instead of blossoms, it is asked donations be made to the Lustgarten Foundation, the James Brown Family Foundation, and Little Kids Rock. In 2013, the singer reported she had been diagnosed with stage-one bile duct cancer and underwent surgery, putting off the arrival of her and the Dap-Kings’ last collection of original material, Give the People What They Want, which was released in 2014. Her analysis was later changed to stage-two pancreatic malignancy, for which Jones had surgery and experienced chemotherapy.

Jones was the subject of the narrative Miss Sharon Jones! That was discharged recently, taking after the artist – regularly alluded to as the “female James Brown” – through her fight with growth and come back to the stage. In 2015 at the Toronto International Film Festival at a screening for that narrative, Jones uncovered that her disease had returned and she would be experiencing chemotherapy once more. A month ago, Jones wiped out her booked execution at the White House’s South by South Lawn occasion on because of pneumonia.

In July, Jones talked with Billboard’s Soul Sisters Podcast, vowing to continue executing the length of she was capable, in spite of the forceful return of her growth.

“Right now I’m just trying to keep going and keep my fans out there,” she said. “You take as much as you can, and I’m not ready to give up yet.”

Born in North Augusta, South Carolina, adjoining Augusta, Georgia, she was the most youthful of six siblings and sisters, notwithstanding her perished auntie’s youngsters who her mom raised. As a youthful youngster, the family moved to New York City.

bn-qw522_jones_j_20161118222027

Jones made a life out of music, regardless of not putting out her particular collection until the age of 40. She started singing gospel in a chapel and later entered ability appears in the 1970s sponsored by nearby funk groups.

For years, she acted as a corrections officer at Rikers Island and as a heavily clad auto monitor for Wells Fargo Bank, until she got a break in 1996 when she showed up as a session artist backing Lee Fields. The just a single of the three artists called to the session which showed up, Jones secured all the sponsorship parts herself and awed Gabe Roth and Philip Lehman of the now old record names Pure Records and Desco Records, who upheld Jones’ first solo recordings.In 2002, Roth’s new name Daptone Records propelled with Sharon Jones’ presentation collection sponsored by the Dap-Kings band, Dap Dipping with Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings. They would go ahead to discharge six studio collections, just for Daptone. Their last release was the 2015 Christmas accumulation. It’s a Holiday Soul Party.

Hans Abrahamsen Wins The Grawemeyer Award For Music

Danish composer Hans Abrahamsen has won this year's Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition for his song cycle let me tell you. It's his first vocal work.

Danish composer Hans Abrahamsen has won this year’s Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition for his song cycle let me tell you. It’s his first vocal work. Lars Skaaning/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Lars Skaaning/Courtesy of the artist

A 30-minute song cycle for soprano and orchestra called let me tell you, by Danish composer Hans Abrahamsen, has been named the winner of the 2016 Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition. The prize, which includes $ 100,000, was slated to be announced Nov. 30 by the University of Louisville, which sponsors the annual award. But the after the classical music website Musical America accidentally leaked the information, the official statement was released Tuesday.

Abrahamsen, 62, collaborated with author and music critic Paul Griffiths, who wrote the texts for the piece based on his own short novel called let me tell you. Griffiths started with the 480 or so words allotted to the character Ophelia in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, then reworked them in various combinations to reveal a contemporary Ophelia eager to tell her own story. “My words may be poor but they will have to do,” she says near the beginning of the work.

Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts let me tell you with the Rotterdam Philharmonic in March 2014.

YouTube

“The vocal lines exquisitely mirror Griffiths’ fragile texts of the doomed Ophelia,” said Mark Satterwhite, director of the Grawemeyer Award. “The orchestra is a partner rather than mere accompanist and the composer draws a huge array of colors from the orchestra, delicate and shimmering more often than not, but occasionally in fuller force.”

Abrahamsen, a native of Copenhagen, began writing music at an early age, publishing pieces when he was 16. By age 30 he already had an orchestral work commissioned by the Berlin Philharmonic. He studied at the Royal Danish Academy of Music, where he now teaches. Among his teachers were Per Nørgård and György Ligeti (a Grawemeyer winner in 1986).

Abrahamsen dabbled with writing vocal music back in the 1970s, but says that let me tell you is his first vocal piece, and something of a breakthrough for him.

“My music has always been full of pictures and feelings,” he said by phone from his home in Kongens Lyngby, near Copenhagen. “But now these pictures come out more with text and therefore somehow there has been some kind of step [forward] in this piece, which I understood when I wrote it.”

One of the keys to the success of let me tell you is soprano Barbara Hannigan, for whom it was written. A fearless champion of new music, Hannigan has premiered some 80 pieces and was recently praised for her performances in Written on Skin, an opera by George Benjamin that received its U.S. stage premiere at this summer’s Mostly Mozart Festival in New York. At one point in the conception of let me tell you, she gave Abrahamsen a crash course on the history of vocal music, singing for him excerpts of Mozart, Mahler and Schoenberg, and instructing him in the finer points of her silvery, flexible voice.

It was also Hannigan who asked the Berlin Philharmonic if they wanted to commission the work. That orchestra, led by Andris Nelsons, gave the piece its world premiere Dec. 20, 2013.

For Abrahamsen, winning the award is a dream come true. “I remember the first time I heard about the award and heard that Lutosławski and Ligeti and others who won,” he says. “I knew it was, and still is, a very prestigious prize. So when I heard that I had received it, I became very honored and very happy.”

The piece will be heard first in the U.S. in performances by Hannigan, the Cleveland Orchestra and music director Franz Welser-Möst in Cleveland and New York in January. A recording will be released Jan. 8 on the Winter & Winter label, and Boston Symphony Orchestra performances with Hannigan and Nelsons follow in February.

“I have the feeling that in this piece I have made something which is perhaps more open but still full of mystery, and, for me, what I’m searching for,” Abrahamsen says. “When I did the piece I felt everything came into its right place.”

Music News : NPR

Musicians Struggle To Buy Insurance In A City That Thrives On Music

3:48

Download

Kalu James moved to Austin, Texas, eight years ago, but bought health insurance for the first time this year. Twenty percent of the city's musicians live below the federal poverty line.

Kalu James moved to Austin, Texas, eight years ago, but bought health insurance for the first time this year. Twenty percent of the city’s musicians live below the federal poverty line. Veronica Zaragovia/KUT hide caption

toggle caption Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

It looks like Kalu James is living the life as a musician. He’s standing under a neon sign, ready to play guitar at Austin’s famous Continental Club. And when he’s not here, he’s hustling to pay his bills.

“Being a full-time musician means you have three other side jobs, you know?” he says.

James moved to Austin about eight years ago and got health insurance for the first time this year. He pays $ 22 a month, after the $ 200 subsidy he gets through the Affordable Care Act. Even that is a lot, because he earns only $ 15,000 a year. He gets help paying his monthly premium through a local nonprofit.

“We still have to worry about counting the quarters and the pennies when we leave these venues,” he says. Health insurance doesn’t come easily.

Austin thrives on its reputation as the live music capital of the world and is making far more than quarters and pennies from music. The city estimates the commercial music industry pumps $ 1.6 billion into the local economy every year.

But Austin has a lot of people like James struggling to afford life here.

“A lot of people didn’t understand just how dire that situation is,” says Nikki Rowling, the founder and CEO of the Titan Music Group. “We have hard data that shows it.”

The Titan Music Group recently conducted a large survey and several focus groups of musicians in Austin; it produced the Austin Music Census for the city. The census found that 20 percent of Austin musicians live below the federal poverty level. More than 50 percent qualify for federal housing subsidies, and nearly 19 percent lack health insurance.

A lot of Austin musicians rely on the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians for help.

“Close to 60 percent of our membership doesn’t even qualify for the subsidies that are given through the Affordable Care Act,” says Reenie Collins, the alliance’s executive director. And Texas didn’t expand Medicaid, which would have helped those musicians below the poverty line.

Her organization helps in two ways. This year, HAAM gave Kalu James and about 300 others money to afford their premiums for plans bought on the exchange. It also coordinates low-cost health care for about 2,000 members every year. It partners with doctors and hospitals to give these musicians medical, dental, vision, hearing and mental health care.

Backstage at the Moody Theater, dobro player Tom Caven is getting ready to go onstage.

“Travel anywhere in the United States,” Caven says, “you tell them you’re from Austin, [and] they almost always say, ‘Austin City Limits,’ you know? This is very much the identity. And if we lost that, we’d just be another up-and-coming city with no personality.”

Caven is an executive at the Seton hospital network, an organization that partners with HAAM. He is also a physician and treated musicians in Austin for almost 20 years. Caven’s band, The Stray Bullets, is performing at a local “battle of the bands” to raise money for HAAM.

“Some people feel like you just ought to work hard enough to have health insurance,” he says. “But working in a safety-net hospital, like I do, you see people that come in. They’re working really hard — working sometimes two and three jobs to support their family.”

Dr. Tom Craven (second from right) plays dobro and guitar with The Stray Bullets. He also treated Austin musicians for 20 years and is now an executive at the Seton hospital network in the city.

Dr. Tom Craven (second from right) plays dobro and guitar with The Stray Bullets. He also treated Austin musicians for 20 years and is now an executive at the Seton hospital network in the city. Veronica Zaragovia/KUT hide caption

toggle caption Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

Thanks to fundraisers and other private donations, HAAM’s Collins plans to triple the number of musicians who will get help with their premiums next year. She’s also a passionate advocate of Medicaid expansion, which would help many musicians in Austin.

“Many, many people think, ‘Oh, HAAM’s not needed anymore.’ Well, that’s not really true,” she says, “because Texas did not expand Medicaid.”

While more people have become insured since the rollout of the exchanges, Texas still has the highest uninsured rate in the country — about 17 percent.

This story is part of NPR’s reporting partnership with local member stations and Kaiser Health News.

Music News : NPR

The Music Of A Struggle: Sam Gleaves' Traditional Revolution

Sam Gleaves
Susi Lawson/Courtesy of the artist

Last year, the book Rednecks, Queers & Country Music — a significant, if overlooked work by scholar Nadine Hubbs — drove home just how powerful and pervasive outsider assumptions about the backwardness of rural identities and downhome music can be. Too often, we’ll seize on a figure like Kim Davis — the devoutly religious Kentucky county clerk who’d rather be marched down to the jailhouse than issue a marriage license to a gay couple — to confirm our citified stereotypes rather than make room in our awareness for someone as complex as Sam Gleaves, a Virginia-born, Kentucky-dwelling, 20-something, Appalachian picker, whose vignettes of blue-collar, mountain resilience often have queer protagonists.

A couple of years back, “Follow Your Arrow,” Kacey Musgraves‘s breezily casual toast to same-sex affection, and the general pursuit of whatever you happen to be into, was dubbed a sign of millennial progressiveness emerging in country music. Gleaves labors miles away from the country mainstream, inhabiting a world that’s both more grassroots and more intellectualized, a world of folk clubs and southern community arts centers. A musical activist by comparison, he’s often photographed with his banjo suspended from his shoulder by a rainbow-colored strap. He knows and loves traditional idioms enough to hang on to them, to tweak, toy with and talk back to them. “I think that there is a power in this old traditional music in that so many people have leaned on it,” he told me on the phone. “I do want to keep adding my two cents to the tradition.”

He does just that on his new album, Ain’t We Brothers. It includes songs like “Two Virginia Boys,” a tender ballad that bookends the old, familiar number “East Virginia Blues” with touchingly plainspoken new verses that declare the love one young, southern man feels for another. The album’s title track (which you can hear here) tells a story every bit as real as the one that generated Kim Davis’ recent notoriety: that of Sam Williams, a West Virginia man who worked in the coal mines, lived openly with his male partner and spoke out in the face of harassment.

Sam Gleaves

Out this Friday on Community Music, Gleaves’ first collection of original material was produced by his mentor and friend, folk luminary Cathy Fink, whom he credits with “teaching me how to get behind my own songs,” and features contributions from the likes of Tim O’Brien and Janis Ian. During our half-hour phone conversation, Gleaves explained why singing from overlooked vantage points matters so much.

Do you expect that it will come as a surprise to people who are just finding out about you that you are an Appalachian artist who finds inspiration in old-time, bluegrass and folk traditions and is also an openly gay man — that that’s an intersection of identities that does in fact exist in the world.

I mean, I think it’s just people’s lack of willingness to admit that queer people are everywhere, and that everyone is somewhere on the spectrum. I think people tend to think that LGBTQ identities are more silenced in rural areas, but there’s been so much change. There’s been so many people that have come forward and decide to be open and live in rural communities openly that things have really changed. Also, I think traditional music and traditional art really appeals to queer people, because in a lot of ways it’s the music of a struggle; it’s the music of people who have fought against oppression.

Was there ever a time in your own musical journey when you didn’t place autobiography or identity in the foreground of what you were doing?

I started playing traditional music when I was about 12, and I loved the community that surrounded it. I loved that it was intergenerational, you know, that I was getting to learn from all these older folks and find so much in common with people my own age and across a broad range. And it really taught me to love my home in a deeper way. I’m from southwest Virginia, a little place called Wytheville, and I felt that in one way, the traditional music was maybe less represented, and that I should perform it more to expose more audiences to it. That was one thing, but then I started realizing that some people were very encouraging to me about my original songs, my family, my mother, grandmother, father, in particular. And also some friends of mine who are authors, Silas House and Jason Howard, were encouraging me to play my own material, and then I realized that my perspective does have value just like everyone’s does. So I did start to play my original songs more and the more feedback I got, the more encouraged I was.

You brought your studies of vernacular music into an academic setting at Berea College. What difference did that make to your development?

I studied folklore at Berea College, and I took a lot of Appalachian studies classes, which really educated me about the history of the region and also the importance of archives, you know? I really researched a lot in our special collections and archives at Berea, because we had these great collections of traditional ballad singing, fiddle and banjo playing, stories. So I dug into all that stuff and it gave me a lot of context for the traditional music and the stories that it sprang from. And really I think what it taught me most was that a song and a singer are kind of inseparable. The singer leaves an imprint on a song, even if they didn’t write it. Even if it’s an old traditional piece, a singer’s life really leaves a mark on a song, and who they hand it down to and how they learn it. So that’s fascinating to me. I had done a little bit of field reporting and interviewing people, oral history kind of work, and I love that. Sometimes that comes out in my songs.

You mentioned different strains of resistance or protest in folk music, and it certainly wasn’t lost on me that you also have a tribute to Joan Baez on the album. Urban folksingers like her must be a source for you as well.

You know, I almost feel like my parents’ musical taste kind of distilled the music that I love, because my father loves hardcore, good country music and bluegrass; my mother loves singer-songwriter type of music, you know, like Natalie Merchant and folks like that. So I really see the value in both. I love contemporary folk, you know, like Joni Mitchell and Joan Baez. Those are some of my favorite singers and writers, and especially Joan Baez’s stance as an activist and her bravery to stand up and speak out about some issues that, frankly, she lost some fans over. Her decision to be an artist with integrity rather than just a commercial singer really appealed to me. So that’s really what that song, “Angel in the Ashes,” on the record is about: Joan’s commitment to giving a voice to people who are less represented rather than just taking the easier route.

So it’s almost like that folk music from the ’60s kind of taught me about music from my own region. I heard Joan Baez and she would be singing a Carter Family song on an old record, and then I would realize, “Oh, my father took me to the Carter Family home when I was a little kid, and I got to hear music in their old homeplace,” and realized that those people were from southwest Virginia and that country music in this nation was really kind of born in my home area. A lot of that folk music from the ’60s taught me that.

It sounds like it also shaped your notion of your role as an artist, that activism or speaking for people who aren’t represented can be facets of what you do.

Yes, it really did. I mean, in my songs I’m trying to tell my story as an openly gay man from southwest Virginia, but also as just someone who loves this traditional music because it tells the story of a culture and it appeals so broadly to a lot of people. Because it’s like when a song is handed down over generations, there’s a little thread of human truth that just gets more universal as it’s passed down. My father works for the railroad, and I really identify with the working-class stories and the way of life, the stories that he brought home. So I try to represent those in my songs as well. It’s just to show people that Appalachia isn’t a place that stuck in the past. Like my friend Silas House says, our region is just a microcosm for America, in that the changes and the struggles that our nations are experiencing may be magnified, here but we’re not excluded from them.

There is a masculine ideal of mountain singing that is high and lonesome and virile and cutting, sort of the Ralph Stanley template. You share that vocal range. You can hit those high notes. But you approach singing very differently. There’s a yielding quality to the way that you use your voice. As you’ve developed your style as a singer, how conscious have you been of departing from that traditional masculine template?

I do love the mountain style of singing that has a hard edge. I certainly admire Ralph Stanley, and really the singer that influenced me more than any other in that regard is Hazel Dickens. I love the edge that her voice has and how it underscores the no-nonsense nature of her lyrics, and how she won’t be put down. You can hear that when she sings. I also really love the singing of Sheila Kay Adams from western North Carolina. I was really fortunate to get to learn some ballads from her and befriend her. I do love that kind of vulnerability that I think women capture in song more often than men. I’m very proud of the kind of effeminate stamp on my music, because I admire so many female singers. On my office wall I’ve got Joan Baez and Loretta Lynn and Laurie Lewis and Jean Ritchie, and I really do admire their approach to weaving an emotion into a song and I try to do that. It’s almost like it helps the audience meet you halfway somehow.

How did you first encounter the story of Sam Williams, who your song “Ain’t We Brothers” is about?

I was fortunate to get to meet Sam Williams and his partner, Burley, this year. We visited them in their home in West Virginia. But I didn’t know him when I wrote this song. An article came out, written by my friend Jason Howard, and his article told Sam’s story. Then his name was Sam Hall, and he worked in West Virginia and he was an underground coal miner who was openly gay and lived with his partner nearby. He endured a lot of discrimination from his fellow workers there in the mines, and they put his life in danger and insulted him. So he complained about it to his supervisors, and their solution was just to move him to another mine and hope that it wouldn’t happen again, but it always did. Eventually Sam put together a legal team and filed a lawsuit against the bigger coal company and won a big settlement. What really impressed me was that Sam Williams spoke out about his experience. Who knows? He might be the first openly gay, working-class representative from Appalachia in broader media.

What I tried to say in the song was if Sam was speaking to his fellow coal miners, they really had more in common than they did to separate them, and that calling him less of a man for being so courageous and living with a man in a conservative community doesn’t really shake out to me. To me, he’s more of a man because he was brave and had integrity. So that’s what I was trying to say in the song, and I’m very, very honored with the way it’s been received. Sam actually likes the song, so that means a lot.

The fact that you emphasize what they have in common, class, region and culture, that’s what really struck me about the song. You’re confronting his fellow miners in his voice, but you’re really dwelling on their shared identity: “First things first, I’m a blue collar man.”

That’s what I believe, is that regardless of what struggles they’re going through, people in the human race have a common thread, which they can either decide to take a hold of or they can let it divide them. I mean, I also understand, with how much inequality there is in this country, why people sometimes wouldn’t want to stand together. But I do hope that the song is, through a real story, some little reminder that especially LGBTQ people are really not all that different and that they exist and that they’re everywhere, and that they’re good community members.

Throughout the album you depict feelings of alienation — forbidden love and pressures of family and church culture and so on — but it all plays out within the context of rootedness in a community. Why do you feel it matters that these critiques are leveled from within the community, rather than condemnation coming from without?

Being brought up in kind of the old-time music community, in my teen years that was what I was obsessed with and surrounded by a really supportive community of people. So music, for me, has always been about the individuals that I learned it from, whether they be living or passed on. I can’t separate music and community in my mind, so I guess that bleeds out in my writing just intuitively. I don’t think about it intentionally. And also having a really good receptive family experience and experience in my hometown, the place where I live now in Berea, Kentucky, those positive experiences from your community and your family encourage you to speak about what happened to you in your life without shame.

I’m proud to be from Appalachia, because I’m fortunate to have had a family experience and an education that taught me the value of it, and the musical experience, too. And so, I can speak about it without being afraid. Everyone in life has struggles and growing pains, but I can discuss that through music and feel validated, rather than having to dig up a bunch of bones or, you know, the people that feel like they have to run away, especially queer people, that they have to go live in the city and be anonymous somehow and not speak with an accent. The media can kind of shame people from the Appalachian region in a lot of ways, but I was lucky to have a family and a music community and live in areas where I didn’t have to do that, and I hope it does come through in my music.

In the lyrics of “If I Could Write A Song,” you say, “A song makes sense of the way I am, where I come from, where I stand.” That kind of feels like a statement of purpose or artistic vision to me, but what does it mean to you?

Recently I was writing a little piece about music and what it’s meant to me, and I was thinking music, for me, has been a reconciling ground. Living in our modern world, we have so many tensions. Like how do you decide your identity when you hear your grandparents telling these old stories, but you also watch your TV? And you’re trying to figure out who you are in this changing world and what matters to you and what you want to carry forward in life. Music, for me, has always been a way to stop and reflect and think, “Who am I really? Who do I belong to? What do I want to bring forward?” And so, that’s what that means to me. The music is a place where conflict is resolved.

Music News : NPR

American Music Awards — Serious Seat Shufflin' After Tyga and Kylie Split

1121-ama-bieber-selena-tyga-gwen-blake-compositeProducers for The American Music Awards had a last minute scramble Friday night after Tyga and Kylie called it quits.

A source close to Sunday night’s show tells TMZ the two were originally supposed to be sitting together in the crowd. However — to avoid any serious drama — we’ve learned producers now have Tyga sitting a few rows back from Jenner.

Our source also says Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton will be paired together and Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez will be front row … but not beside each other. 

That’s one messy game of musical chairs. 

TMZ.com