NPR Staff

Julia Holter wants to be known as a good storyteller, not just someone who makes pretty music. She grew up studying classical music and listening to pop, though her songs don't easily fall into either category. Holter recently sat down with NPR's Ari Shapiro to discuss two characters on her new album, Have You In My Wilderness, that showcase her storytelling acumen.

Writer Percival Everett is a man of the West: the region, for him, is a place of calm and comfort, danger and extremes. His new collection of short stories, Half an Inch of Water, is set largely in Wyoming, where Everett lived for a time and which he says might be his favorite state. ("It's so sparsely populated," he says as praise.)

But the prolific author wrote his new book far away from that iconic landscape.

"I wrote these while I was in Paris," Everett tells NPR's Arun Rath. "I was living in Paris, and for some reason I started writing ranch stories.

As an album title, Introducing Darlene Love sounds like a throwback, in the spirit of Here's Little Richard or Meet the Beatles. In fact, it's something closer to a joke: The woman behind these songs has been making music for 50 years, and it only took a few decades for people to learn her name.

For those who have never seen the show American Ninja Warrior: Imagine an Army obstacle course, redesigned by Dr. Seuss and a team of rock-climbing acrobats. Competitors have to thread their way through the daunting obstacles, completing a number of stages before they can hope to finish the whole thing.

Ten albums in, Patty Griffin isn't slowing down. Her new album tackles love and humanity with a sound straight out of the juke joint and a passion that surges from each song. It also marks a milestone in the artist's personal life: She began writing it just as she was staring down her 50th birthday.

Do you keep up with international news?

This quiz will give you a chance to find out.

The wildly successful prime-time soap opera Empire is back: Season 2 kicks off next week.

The Season 1 finale brought in 17 million viewers — despite the conventional wisdom that the days of broadcast television drawing in audiences like that are over.

Antony Britton literally dug his own grave — and it very nearly killed him.

Britton, an escape artist in the tradition of Harry Houdini, had been attempting a stunt Houdini made famous: Britton was handcuffed, shackled, plopped in a grave and buried under 6 feet of dirt.

There's something to know about that particular "Buried Alive" stunt: Even Houdini himself couldn't pull it off. In fact, part of the reason it's still remembered today is that Houdini failed, and nearly died along the way.