Music News: Broadway legend Carol Channing dies at 97


Carol Channing in Palm Springs, 2016.
Carol Channing in Palm Springs, 2016. (Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for PSIFF)
Broadway legend Carol Channing dies at 97
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Legendary Broadway star Carol Channing, known for her platinum blonde hair, giant smile, and raspy voice, has died at the age of 97.

The four-time Tony-Award-winning actress is best known for her take on Dolly Levi in the Broadway hit Hello Dolly! But she also was known for her quick wit on variety shows like The Ed Sullivan Show and Hollywood Squares.

Channing was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame in 1981 and received a Lifetime Achievement Tony Award in 1995. Here she is singing the title number from Hello Dolly! in 1965. (NPR)

Alicia Keys to host Grammys

The Oscars may still be searching for a host — or end up going hostless for the big show — but the Grammys have made it official with their host, Alicia Keys. Earlier today, the 15-time Grammy winner was announced as the host.

In a press release, Keys said: "I know what it feels like to be on that stage, and I'm going to bring that vibe and energy. I'm so excited to be the master of ceremonies on the biggest night in music and celebrate the creativity, power and, magic." And she added, "I'm especially excited for all the incredible women nominated this year!"

Who are all these women she's talking about? Brandi Carlile earned six nominations, making her the most-nominated woman at the 2019 Grammys. Also, Cardi B, newcomer H.E.R., Lady Gaga, and Maren Morris all have five nods. You can follow along and see which women take home the honors, when the show airs Feb. 10. (Billboard)

Maroon 5 as Super Bowl halftime headliners: It's officially official

It hasn't only been hard to find people to host awards shows, the Super Bowl has had a seemingly hard time tracking down artists to play the formerly coveted halftime show slot. We've known that Maroon 5 would be performing for a number of months. And we know that several musicians have turned the NFL down, most famously Rhianna — who cited the NFL's treatment of Colin Kaepernick as her reason for saying no.

But finally, they have some takers. Maroon 5 will be joined on stage in Atlanta by rapper Big Boi (of OutKast fame) and one of the biggest artists of 2018, Travis Scott. There was a caveat for Scott to play, however: the NFL had to agree to partner with him to donate $500,000 to Dream Corps, a social justice group.

Now that the NFL has the half-time show confirmed they can focus on all the other details for the big show going down Sunday, Feb. 3. (New York Times)

Kanye West donates $10 million to epic art project

I feel like I should start a new podcast that's called "What's the Deal with Kanye This Week," but I'm not sure the either you or I have the stamina for that. So, I'll keep today's update as brief as I can. Kanye is doing some good this week and supporting the arts. He's donated $10 million to Turrell Art Foundation to fund James Turrell's Roden Crater Project.

What is this art project that caught the musician's eye? It's a sculptural instillation that's been in the works since the 1970s. According to Turrell's website: "Organized as a distinct set of changing experiences of light, Turrell's intervention in the natural form of Roden Crater consists of a series of chambers, pathways, tunnels, and openings onto the sky from within and around the crater's surface."

I went to the website and checked out a bunch of photos of this, since not all of us are Kanye and can make the trip. It's basically a bunch of tunnels dug into this old volcano and they open into very modern, zen-looking spaces, and I feel I need to note that there is an auditorium as part of the installation, so maybe a future concert venue for Kanye West.

Is it too obvious to go out with Kanye West's "Gold Digger"? (Pitchfork)

Is this app the new way to discover music?

How do you discover new music? The radio? A friend? Do you let the algorithms do their will? Well, many members of generation Z are discovering music through apps. Apps like TikTok and have created buzz around songs, but there is a lot of content on those apps there might make it tricky to have discovery moments.

Now, there is another app trying to make a name as the place for music discovery: Triller. It's basically just a 15-second video sharing platform, but it's integrated with a bunch of streaming music services. Mostly it's used for showing off sweet dance moves and impressive lip-syncing, but artists like Chance the Rapper and Lil Uzi Vert have been using it to promote their music and introduce their followers to new and emerging artists.

I volunteered myself to try the app out, and sure, it's fun. The dance clips are pretty goofy and the music selection is vast and deep. It's nice to see kids having some fun and connecting to music and integrating it into their lives. But, and maybe this is the older music lover in me, but it feels like we're getting further and further away from the artists' intent for the music.

We have albums, but maybe you don't have time to immerse yourself in the hour or so experience. So, there's the singles, one track to pull you into an artist and maybe you'll listen to another song based on that one. But 15 seconds? Is that enough to know if you can fall in love with an artist and their music? I don't know. I'll probably stick to my FM dial and vinyl, but it's still fun to jump on Triller to watch some guys goof off and pretend to play the instruments to Kero Kero Bonito. (Pitchfork)

Today's viral clip: The new West Side Story star is a teenager you've never heard of

What high school drama club kid doesn't hold out hope that they'll somehow be discovered and suddenly become a star? Try to rein in your jealousy, because it has happened for a 17-year-old from New Jersey, named Rachel Zegler. The high-schooler officially has been cast in Steven Spielberg's upcoming remake of West Side Story.

About a year ago a casting call went out looking for young Latino and Latina performers, and the show has cast Broadway regular Ariana DeBose (who originated the role of the Bullet in Hamilton) as Anita; Josh Andres Rivera, who was in the first national tour of Hamilton; Tony Award winner David Alvarez; actor Ansel Elgort; and, now, New Jersey high schooler Rachel Zegler as the lead character, Maria.

Here she is covering Queen's "Somebody To Love." (People)

Audio sampled in podcast
Jahzzar: "Comedie" (CC BY 4.0)
BoxCat Games: "Against the Wall" (CC BY 3.0)
Carol Channing and Original Broadway Cast of Hello, Dolly!: "Hello, Dolly!"
Kanye West feat. Jamie Foxx: "Gold Digger"
Kero Kero Bonito: "Flamingo"
Rachel Zegler: "Somebody to Love"

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