Music News: Musicians lost to COVID-19

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The Current Music News for July 23, 2020 (MPR Video)

COVID-19 has now claimed well over half a million lives worldwide. In past episodes, we've talked about some of the famous musicians who've succumbed to the virus: people including John Prine, Ellis Marsalis, Adam Schlesinger, Manu Dibango, Lee Konitz, Dave Greenfield, Hal Willner, Bucky Pizzarelli, Mike Longo, and Matthew Seligman.

Today, we want to step back and talk again about the music artists we've lost to coronavirus. We're highlighting just a few of the many we haven't talked about yet.

Hip-hop artist Fred the Godson died on April 23. He was a successful artist for all of the 2010s, after breaking out at the beginning of the decade. As a rapper he was known for his humor and his creative rhymes, but he became best-known as a New York hip-hop media personality. He was a regular guest on Sway in the Morning and Funkmaster Flex's Hot 97 show. At the time of his death, he was 35.

Singer Chris Trousdale died on June 2. He was a member of the boy band Dream Street, who also included Jesse McCartney. Their self-titled debut album from 2000 went gold, and two years later Trousdale starred as himself in the movie The Biggest Fan, in which one of his fans helps him go undercover as just a normal kid so he can escape the pressures of celebrity. By the end of the movie, he and his fan share a kiss onstage at a Dream Street concert. At the time of his death, he was 34.

Brazilian singer Dulce Nunes died on June 4. She was a bossa nova star in the '60s, releasing three albums and collaborated with some of the genre's top names including Antonio Carlos Jobim. Before her singing career, she was one of Brazil's biggest movie stars, with a glamorous marriage to fellow star Bené Nunes. After her music career ended, she became an interior designer and owned her own architecture firm in Rio. At the time of her death, she was 90.

The New York Times has been publishing a series of obituaries for people who've died of COVID-19: not just celebrities, but ordinary people who made a difference in their communities. One of those was Leota Dooley, who died on April 23. She was a music lover who lived in the isolated Colorado mountain community of Salida. In 1988, she founded a community singing group called the Noteables that was open to anyone who wanted a chance to sing. Over the course of her 97-year life she was also an entrepreneur, a bar owner, an engineering librarian, and someone who built a cabin with her mom. She was among a number of residents of a senior care facility who died of the coronavirus.

Other musicians lost to COVID-19 in recent months include gospel star Troy Sneed, British rapper Ty, jazz trumpeter Wallace Roney, sound engineer Sam Clayton Jr., Zimbabwean mbira musician Cosmas Magaya, Brazilian Carnaval samba composer Tanio Mendonca, and Broadway star Nick Cordero.

We're going to leave you with a clip of Cristina, a singer from New York's no wave scene in the '70s and '80s. She blended punk energy and attitude with the fun of pop and disco in a way that influenced later superstars like Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, and Lady Gaga. Autoimmune disorders left her vulnerable to coronavirus, and she died on March 31 at age 64. In the words of Zola Jesus, who cites Cristina as a huge influence, "I loved how she was too weird for the pop world and too pop for the weird world."


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