Andrew Limbong

Andrew Limbong is a reporter and producer for NPR's Arts Desk, where he reports, produces, and mixes arts and culture pieces of all kinds. Previously, he was a producer and director for Tell Me More. He originally started at NPR in 2011 as an intern for All Things Considered.

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Zimbabwe has lost one of its most beloved voices. His name is Oliver Mtukudzi, and he died yesterday at the age of 66. The musician was one of the few constants in a country that's been through a lot and faces an uncertain political future. Here's NPR's Andrew Limbong.

This story is part of American Anthem, a yearlong series on songs that rouse, unite, celebrate and call to action. Find more at NPR.org/Anthem.

Editor's note: The following story contains some frank discussion of suicide.


The opening lines to "Adam's Song" aren't particularly subtle:

I never thought I'd die alone
I laughed the loudest, who'd have known

Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock's debut album, It Takes Two, was released 30 years ago this month. It contains one of the most defining singles in hip-hop, anchored by the unmistakable hook: "It takes two to make a thing go right / It takes two to make it outta sight." The epochal riff is a sample from Lyn Collins 1972 single "Think (About It)." Collins died in 2005, but thanks to this hip-hop rework of her single, her name is canonized in music history.

Julia Ward Howe wrote a rousing anthem for the Union in the Civil War. Since then, it's been caught in a cultural tug-of-war over who it's an anthem for — social conservatives, evangelical Christians, labor workers or civil rights leaders.

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One Song Glory

Jul 4, 2018

This week, NPR inaugurates a new series called American Anthem, exploring songs that tap into the collective emotions of listeners and performers around an issue or belief. Find more stories at NPR.org/anthem.

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The Weinstein Co. has been cleared to sell its assets to Texas-based private equity firm Lantern Capital Partners.

That was the ruling from a federal bankruptcy court judge in Delaware today. The terms of the deal don't offer a fund for the victims of alleged sexual abuses by the movie studio's co-founder.

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A medical company is trying to make hospital gowns less terrible — maybe even good. The company is called Care+Wear and it's currently testing out the new gowns at MedStar Montgomery in Olney, Md.

You know the old gown, sometimes called a "johnny": It's got the flimsy ties and the exposed back.

Mark E. Smith, founder and frontman of the UK band The Fall, has died at the age of 60. The band's manager, Pam Vander, said in a written statement, "He passed this morning (24th January) at home. A more detailed statement will follow in the next few days."

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In the mid-1990s, the Irish rock band The Cranberries was everywhere.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LINGER")

THE CRANBERRIES: (Singing) But I'm in so deep. You know I'm such a fool for you. You...

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Muscle Shoals, Ala., is a small town a couple hours east of Memphis and south of Nashville. Starting in the 1960s, it drew some of the best musicians in the world.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TELL MAMA")

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The ice bucket challenge became a viral sensation a few years ago.

(SOUNDBITE OF WATER SPLASHING, LAUGHTER)

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Phil Chess, co-founder of the iconic Chicago blues and rock 'n' roll label Chess Records, died Wednesday in Tucson, Ariz. He was 95.

Phil and his brother, Leonard Chess, emigrated to the U.S. from Poland in 1928. Chess Records biographer Nadine Cohodas told their story to NPR in 2000.

Chuck Berry turns 90 Tuesday. I know he's a very important person in music history, but he's never been a guy I listened to much. I mean, I've heard hits like "Maybellene" from 1955, but I wanted to learn more.

So I called Tony Trov. He's an artist out of Philadelphia, but more important, he plays in a Chuck Berry cover band called It's Marvin, Your Cousin Marvin Berry, a reference to a memorable scene in Back to the Future.

Bobby Hutcherson, a vibraphonist whose improvising and composition helped to define modernity for jazz as a whole, has died. He had long struggled with emphysema. He was 75.

As a mallet percussionist, he expanded the scope of what was possible on his instrument. And the sound he created was widely influential.

Sesame Street has been a constant presence in children's entertainment for nearly 50 years. In addition to Big Bird and Elmo and Oscar the Grouch, the program also has human characters who ground the show, teaching the muppets big life lessons and helping them on their zany adventures. But over the past few weeks, there have been some issues with the grown-ups of Sesame Street.

When Elvis Presley first appeared on TV in the mid-1950s, you saw the swinging hips and the cheering fans. But if you had looked just behind him, you'd have seen Scotty Moore, who played lead guitar on Presley's early recordings and helped define his sound. Moore died at his home in Nashville on Tuesday after a long illness. He was 84.

While he was an essential part of some of the most iconic moments in rock 'n' roll history, Moore wasn't one for music mythology.

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Usually when old songs come back on the charts, it's because a musician has died and people are feeling nostalgic. Think Prince or David Bowie. That's not the case this week.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I WANT TO BE YOUR LADY BABY")

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(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER: So from the top (unintelligible).

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Paul Bley, a jazz pianist whose thoughtful but intuitive commitment to advanced improvisation became widely influential, died of natural causes Sunday. He was 83.

Bley was surrounded by family at his winter residence in Stuart, Fla., according to his daughter Vanessa Bley.

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Fans of music that is fast and loud - really loud - have lost someone important.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ACE OF SPADES")

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It could be that this year's Christmas shoppers are getting familiar with The Shins.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WONDERFUL CHRISTMASTIME")

THE SHINS: (Singing) The party's on. The feeling's here.

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The trailer for the new "Star Wars" movie is out. And if somehow you have managed to avoid it, here's a little summary. It's got good old-fashioned TIE fighters, light sabers, the Millennium Falcon and also some new faces.

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