NPR Staff

It's become an annual tradition for NPR to host a live band in our studios for a full day. This year, we upped the ante and invited around 70 musicians from Washington, D.C.'s National Symphony Orchestra to play the musical interludes between stories on All Things Considered.

It's been five years since the death of Trayvon Martin — and the outrage that sparked the Black Lives Matter movement.

Martin — 17 years old, black and unarmed — was shot by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer in Sanford, Fla.

Jonathan Rado and Sam France were in eighth grade when they first met and began making music together. Their tastes were simple at first — straight-ahead rock songs banged out on drums and guitars in a garage. But a dramatic shift happened when they decided to take a less linear approach to recording their work.

"I got really into buying cheap, cheap instruments on eBay — lots of xylophones and melodicas and kind of useless junk — and that was kind of everywhere," Rado says. "We'd just kind of play for like 30 minutes, and then chop the best bits down to a three-minute song."

Bill Evans was a genius: The jazz world, which can be roiled by factions and jealousies, usually agrees on that. He was a composer and pianist with a light, lyrical touch that was once described as what you might hear at the gates of heaven. But like many geniuses, Evans died too young — in 1980, at the age of just 51, after years of cocaine and heroin addiction.

A new documentary by filmmaker Bruce Spiegel helps capture that genius with interviews of musicians, family members, and archival footage of Bill Evans himself.

A young woman meets a prince and falls in love. That sounds like the start of an old fashioned fairy tale, but in the movie A United Kingdom it's the start of a diplomatic firestorm. The film tells the story of Ruth Williams and Seretse Khama, who married in 1948. Williams was a typist in London; Khama was heir to the throne of Bechuanaland, or modern-day Botswana.

Michael Ryan, 45, is a juvenile judge in Cleveland, Ohio. And like many of the kids who end up in his courtroom, he didn't have an easy childhood.

He adored his mother, he tells his son — also named Michael, 19, at StoryCorps in Cleveland, but she was addicted to heroin.

In America, there is a rare echelon of pop stars so big they only need one name: Madonna, Cher, Prince. In Italy, that name is Zucchero.

At the Oscars this weekend, one spotlight will shine on African-American women in the space race, thanks to the movie Hidden Figures, which is nominated for three Academy Awards, including best picture.

Mae Jemison made history in this field as the first African-American woman in space, as part of the crew on Space Shuttle Endeavour in 1992.

The Brit Awards — the looser, goofier, British-er cousin of the Grammys — are currently underway from the O2 Arena in London. You can see the full list of nominees and winners below.



MasterCard British Album of the Year
WINNER: David Bowie -- Blackstar
The 1975 — I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful yet So Unaware of It
Kano — Made in the Manor
Michael Kiwanuka — Love & Hate
Skepta — Konnichiwa

The human species is about to change dramatically. That's the argument Yuval Noah Harari makes in his new book, Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow.

Harari is a history professor at Hebrew University in Israel. He tells NPR's Ari Shapiro that he expects we will soon engineer our bodies and minds in the same way we now design products.


Interview Highlights

On how we will begin to engineer bodies

Thomas Jefferson wrote the famous words "all men are created equal," but he also owned more than 600 slaves over the course of his life.

His Virginia plantation called Monticello is being renovated to shed more light on the enslaved people who lived and worked there.

One of the most notable of those slaves was Sally Hemings. Jefferson is widely believed to have fathered her six children. The museum is working to restore a restroom believed to be Hemings' living quarters.

Alison Krauss and Buddy Cannon go way back. Cannon, a veteran country songwriter and producer, remembers hiring Krauss to sing harmonies on one of hear after hearing on of her early demos on cassette in the early '90s. "I've been blown away ever since," Cannon says.

Krauss has a new album out called Windy City. Produced by Cannon, it is her first solo album in 18 years. She says her friend's instincts are almost always right.

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