Okemah, Okla. — the birthplace of Woody Guthrie — has another musical native son to call its own. John Fullbright's recordings mix folk, country and blues, and his lyrics often tackle big-picture topics.
"I grew up with a lot of questions that couldn't really seem to be answered," Fullbright tells NPR's Rachel Martin. "Why are we here? Did some higher power make all of this? Did he make me? And songwriting is kind of your own voice, your strongest voice, that you can use to ask yourself those questions."
Jason Mraz's 2008 single "I'm Yours" was a multiplatinum global hit. In fact, it set a record by staying on Billboard's Hot 100 chart for 76 weeks — more than any other song in the magazine's 51-year history.
Although Mraz's new record, Love Is a Four Letter Word, was written on the heels of a breakup, the songs are mostly sunny and positive. Mraz says he was more interested in making something relatable than in zeroing in on his own experiences.
"Never Would Have Made It" is the biggest gospel hit of the past decade, and the man who sings it, Marvin Sapp, is quite possibly the biggest name in gospel today — a development that still surprises the Michigan pastor.
"I'm blown away by how that song has had the impact that it has had on so many people," Sapp tells NPR's Guy Raz. "All of us, I've learned, have gone through 'never would have made it' moments, and that's the reason why I believe that it resonates so strongly in so many people's lives."