Hailing from Washington state, Brandi Carlile began her music career at the age of 8, when her musician mother brought her on stage to sing a Rosanne Cash song. From then on, music was her constant companion, as she taught herself to sing, play the piano and later the guitar. Her latest album, 2009's Give Up the Ghost (produced by Rick Rubin), featured a guest appearance by Elton John and helped earn Carlile the "Breakthrough" artist honor at Seattle's City Of Music Awards.
In the early '90s, the nomadic Tuareg people of Niger and Mali rebelled. Laid low by drought and abandoned by governments, they fought to establish a Tuareg nation. That dream was never realized, but the rebellion did inspire a tradition of guitar-wielding rebel rockers with songs of suffering and nostalgia. Bombino is one of these — a young guitarist and singer from Niger, and a rising star in Tuareg folk rock. His newest album is Agadez.
Richard Thompson and Loudon Wainwright III have each assembled remarkable careers, full of top-notch albums and influential music that spans at least 40 years. In the five decades that Thompson has been making music, he's earned some of the highest possible praise for his work as a live performer, guitarist, singer and songwriter.
Steve Earle has lived through the sort of horrors that have launched a million country songs: addiction, affliction, heartbreak, even prison. He wears them in his voice, but for all his authentic world-weariness, what's most appealing about him is the wide-eyed, unmistakable fearlessness with which he goes about his life these days.
The music of tUnE-yArDs can be deceiving. Instruments transform; recordings morph; one voice can sound like four or five. The woman behind the project, Merrill Garbus, can certainly make a lot of noise on her own. Armed with a ukulele, drums and a voice that has been called a cross between Aretha Franklin and Yoko Ono, Garbus uses a loop pedal to build songs that are larger than life.