Raina Douris

As part of World Cafe's 30th anniversary, we'll be bringing you special features that celebrate the music, the conversation and the legacy of the Cafe every week for 30 weeks.

One thing that's so important to us at World Cafe is boosting emerging artists – and then continuing to support them on their journey. There are so many artists who have visited multiple times, who we've gotten to watch (and hear) grow – sometimes into big, big stars.

World Cafe has been on the air for 30 years this year. To celebrate, every week for the next 30 weeks, you can join us while we look back into the archives. But let's be clear: World Cafe has no plans to slow down... so we also want to look forward to the future of music – with our 30 Under 30 list. We've chosen 30 artists who are 30 years old or younger, who we believe are poised to be the next generation of World Cafe stars. Each week, we'll reveal one of the artists on that list.


Life in 2020 was a big adjustment, no matter who you are or where you were. It might have meant working from home, missing friends and family. For Lukas Nelson, it meant not being on the road for the first time in his life.

Warmth. That's the word that keeps popping up when I try to decide how to describe Brandi Carlile. Warmth is what she treats you with in conversation, always ready with a laugh, a thoughtful answer or a curious question.

Mickey Guyton is power personified. Equipped with a big voice and an even bigger message, Guyton represents a new generation of women making music in Nashville. Regardless of whether or not her music gets airplay on mainstream country radio, she makes country music to share her truth.

Matthew E. White co-founded Spacebomb Group, a music company based out of Richmond, Va., where he's given himself the chance to produce albums for artists like Natalie Prass. But White also makes music of his own.

On A Southern Gothic, her third full-length album, Adia Victoria emerges as a songwriter capable of nuance and atmosphere. Throughout the record, she explores her relationship to the South — where she was born and where she still resides — and the South's relationship with her as a Black woman.

Today's World Cafe session might inspire you to go back and read the journals you wrote as a kid. It's what started Lucy Dacus on the road to her latest album, Home Video. It's a collection of personal moments from the singer-songwriter's life, translated into song by way of her vulnerable, honest lyricism.

"Ladies and gentlemen, rock 'n' roll."

Those were the words spoken by Warner Cable executive John Lack on Aug. 1, 1981, at 12:01 am when MTV — Music Television — went on air for the very first time. It was accompanied by the image of an astronaut, modeled after Neil Armstrong, and an MTV flag planted on the moon's surface. Comparing the station to the moon landing may have come off as hubristic at the time, but MTV would go on to change pop music and its impact on popular culture forever.

The new Counting Crows album — the band's first in seven years — is not your typical release. As the title suggests, Butter Miracle Suite One is a record more accurately described as a suite.

Shungudzo's life is like a movie, with twists and turns. Born in the United States, the singer spent her early years in Zimbabwe where she became the first Black woman to represent Zimbabwe as a gymnast at the All-Africa Games. She then moved back to attend Stanford University, where she got involved in charity work. She was also featured on a reality show, all the while making music.

When Valerie June enters a room, the air transforms. When she sings, her voice hits like an ocean wave and carries the listener along with it. With power and restraint, she uses her voice to its full effect.

"Punk" can mean a lot of different things – an attitude, a perspective, a music genre. All three, or none? It's this open-ended interpretation that's given the "genre" such a long life – and now, the South London band Goat Girl is defining its own version.

Buck Meek's solo music is disarming and intimate. If you're familiar with his work as the guitarist for Big Thief, that might not come as a surprise. His music is saturated with peculiar, beautiful imagery — a motel with a telephone seashell, two tons of turtle doves, a cottonmouth swallowing its tail. They're pictures painted with country-tinged vocals, begging to be deciphered.

There has been plenty to discuss since the release of Ma Rainey's Black Bottom last year. It tells the story of August Wilson and other Black Americans in the 20th century who fled the south and headed north. The film was adapted from a play by Wilson, directed by George C.

Eighty years ago, in Duluth, Minn., a baby named Robert Allen Zimmerman was born. He'd grow up to become one of the greatest songwriters of all time. You know him now as Bob Dylan. To celebrate his 80th birthday, we've compiled an entire show's worth of Dylan songs, as performed by artists who love him.

As a keepsake of World Cafe's Bob Dylan Octogintennial Extravaganza, we're sharing a Spotify playlist with songs from the show and more.

Whatever you do, do not call Tom Jones' latest album a "covers album." More than that, Surrounded By Time is Jones' 41st studio album. It is also the fourth in a string of records produced by Ethan Johns, wherein Jones reinterprets the music of a wide variety of artists. His son, Mark Woodward, also joins as a producer on the new album.

On today's show, we're taking you back in time and letting you experience what the radio might have sounded like in 1971 when NPR got rolling.

Fifty years ago, on May 3, 1971, National Public Radio broadcast its very first original programming when All Things Considered went on the air. Today, NPR is celebrating that anniversary with special programming and looking back at the news, arts and popular culture of that year.

Nothing is as simple as it seems on the surface. Every situation is rich with nuance, there are a million questions to be asked, things to be taken into consideration. In life, there is rarely a quick fix, and Julien Baker knows that.

Even though Aaron Lee Tasjan's song "Up All Night" sounds like a lot of fun – if you listen close, the lyrics touch on many of the things you may have been worried about over this past year. Things like health, being alone, and money. And while some of his songs on his new album Tasjan! Tasjan! Tasjan!

Isolation is a word you probably heard a lot last year, and it might be a word you never want to hear again. But pandemics aside, isolation can sometimes be a beautiful thing. Something that helps you focus your mind and find yourself. David Gray's 12th and most recent album came out this past February and was recorded before the pandemic.

It all started with a Tweet. I posed a question to our World Cafe followers:

Would you call yourself a country person ... or a city person? Even if you are a city person, there might be times you wish you could get away, slow down the pace, listen to the crickets and watch the fireflies. That's where Kevin Morby's new album, Sundowner, takes you.

The release of the latest Fleet Foxes album was all about timing. The digital version of the band's album Shore dropped on Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2020, at exactly 9:31 a.m. eastern time – the precise moment of the autumnal equinox. But the physical version is coming out now – right around the spring equinox. So... why the delay?

The Grammys, like pretty much all of this year's awards season, are operating a little differently this year. While we usually find out the winners in February, this year the honors were pushed back, to this Sunday, March 14.

You might know Matt Berninger as the lead singer of The National, a band that I've often described as "sounding like an overcast day." I mean that in a good way, but the point is, his music, along with his distinctive baritone voice, has a melancholy quality to it. But Berninger himself?

Congratulations! You made it to 2021! This year, more than any other in recent memory, maybe you're excited for a fresh start — and certainly hopeful that this year might be better than the last. While we can't know what the future holds, this day may well feel like you've made it to the other side of something, like you've crossed a bridge over troubled water. To kick off the new year, here's a playlist that's all about new beginnings. Enjoy.

The presents are under the tree, the cookies are out of the oven, the eggnog has been dusted with a fine layer of nutmeg, and joining me by the roaring World Cafe fire is Andrew Bird. He's here to play songs from his new Christmas album, Hark!

What are the best songs of the year? That's kind of a trick question, given the subjectivity of music. But anyone can still have favorites, and that's what you're about to hear — a collection of some of 2020's best songs, as chosen by the World Cafe staff.

There are only a couple of weeks left in 2020 and a lot has happened. So, it's understandable if you maybe didn't hear all of the great music that came out – there was a lot of it. In this episode, World Cafe's Nashville correspondent and NPR pop critic Ann Powers is bringing you some of the artists from the Music City that you might have missed this year.

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