Music News: Aretha Franklin awarded honorary Pulitzer Prize

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Aretha Franklin performs at Radio City Music Hall in 2017.
Aretha Franklin performs at Radio City Music Hall in 2017. (Noam Galai/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival)
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Aretha Franklin awarded honorary Pulitzer Prize
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On Monday, Aretha Franklin became the first female artist to receive the Pulitzers' Special Citation for the Arts. The prestigious journalism and arts awards recognized Franklin "for her indelible contribution to American music and culture for more than five decades."

Franklin is one of less than a dozen musicians to receive the citation; previous honorees include Rodgers and Hammerstein; George Gershwin; Duke Ellington; Thelonious Monk; John Coltrane; Bob Dylan and; most recently in 2010, Hank Williams. (Rolling Stone)

Last year, the Pulitzer Prize for Music went to Kendrick Lamar for his 2017 album DAMN. It was a big moment for hip-hop, as Lamar was the first musician to receive the prize for a composition that wasn't classical or jazz. This year's winner may not be well-known in the pop culture world, but Ellen Reid's work is very relevant in 2019. She's the sixth woman to win the award since 1943, when the Pulitzer for Music was first awarded; Reid's opera p r i s m focuses on the effects of sexual and emotional abuse.

The Pulitzer jury described the winning piece as a "bold new operatic work that uses sophisticated vocal writing and striking instrumental timbres to confront difficult subject matter: the effects of sexual and emotional abuse."

To create the sonic palate for her opera, Reid pulled together three distinct scenes. "The first sound world is really dreamy and impressionistic," she told NPR. "And then the second sound world is gritty and kind of urban and based in a club. And then a third sound world is this new music, extended technique — the harshest part of reality. I wanted to feel like the rug got pulled out from under you. You're in this dreamy sound world, and then the more you learn, the dreamy beautifulness of Act I just feels darker and darker."

While no abuse is shown on stage, the music creates a jarring and unrelenting confrontation. Reid explains that she "think[s] that there is this thing that happens when you're listening to music where it allows you to be closer to understanding something. And that's what I hope people take away."

Mick Jagger bouncing back from heart surgery

If you were holding your breath when you heard that Mick Jagger was going to undergo heart surgery, you can breathe freely again. The Rolling Stones singer is on the mend from his heart valve replacement surgery that took place last week in New York.

He posted a photo of himself standing in front of some lovely white flowers and wrote, "A walk in the park!" The band's spokesperson, Fran Curtis, also confirmed that Jagger was recovering in good spirits. He said the Brit "is doing very well and is expected to make a full recovery." (Rolling Stone)

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A walk in the park !

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Fender unveils Game of Thrones guitars

Game of Thrones, have you heard of it? The HBO television show (based on the George R.R. Martin novels) has been omnipresent during the run up to its eighth and final season. There have been plenty of marketing tie-ins: shoes, Oreos, and whiskey. Now, the music heads can get in on the fantasy fun, with three one-of-a-kind Fender guitars. For $25,000 you can grab the "House Stark Telecaster" with its faux-wolf-fur-lined case; a red-and-gold "House Lannister Jaguar" will set you back $30,000; and the hand-engraved volume and tone knobs around the embossed dragon make the "House Targaryen Stratocaster" most expensive at $35,000. Check out Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine) playing with the Targaryen Strat. (Pitchfork)

Viral clip: Crowd sings Ave Maria outside Notre-Dame

For our viral hit today, we'll be listening to something beautiful that came out of something horrible. Monday evening a fire engulfed the centuries-old famed French monument, the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris. As the smoke and fire took over the night sky, a group of people gathered across the street and began to sing Ave Maria. (Twitter)


Audio sampled in podcast
Jahzzar: "Comedie" (CC BY 4.0)
BoxCat Games: "Against The Wall" (CC BY 3.0)
Aretha Franklin: "Rock Steady"
Ellen Reid: "Blue Excerpt" (P r i s m)
Paris crowd: Ave Maria


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