You can hear Harold Lopez-Nussa's training when he plays. The 33-year-old pianist is reluctant to admit the classical influence on his jazz playing, but he's quick to acknowledge that he, like many other great Cuban pianists, was classically trained. "This is the school that we have to learn music in Cuba; it's classical," he says. "I did all my stuff there from 8 years old to 25."
This week, all the songs I play ended up being about the ways people, particularly women, empower themselves in the face of difficult times. Singer Sam Phillips offers a feast of sound in less than two and a half minutes with "World On Sticks," a song about the indomitable human spirit.
Garth Brooks is bigger than big in the country music business, the whole music business. He is America's best-selling solo artist of any kind of all time. More diamond-selling albums than the Beatles. A big cowboy hat and albums like “No Fences” and “Fresh Horses,” but his deep inspiration was James Taylor. His new album is “Gunslinger,” but his politics have gone toward tolerance. And cowboys. This hour On Point, Garth Brooks. — Tom Ashbrook
Katie Melua has become one of the U.K.'s most popular young musicians, with six studio albums already to her name. She began her life in the ex-Soviet Union country of Georgia, on the coast of the Black Sea.
When you see Mary Halvorson on stage, she doesn't look like much of a trailblazer. She plays sitting down. She's small, and mostly hidden behind her hollow-body guitar and glasses. But then she starts to play. And the sounds coming out of her amp are anything but conventional.