Q&A

CELINE DION

CELINE DION
CELINE DION                         Her latest showcases an earthy approach to recording her inimitable vocals    After selling more than 200 million albums and enjoying 25 years of global success, five-time Grammy Award-winning Celine Dion might be inclined to take it easy. But the powerhouse singer refuses to slow down, and while she continues her Las Vegas residency at Caesars Palace, she’s recorded a new album that challenges... 

STONE TEMPLE PILOTS

STONE TEMPLE PILOTS
STONE TEMPLE PILOTS A big lineup change brings renewed energy to the multiplatinum rockers   “We’ve gotten more done in the past few months than we have in years,” says Stone Temple Pilots bassist Robert DeLeo. He’s talking about the group’s resurrection after booting singer Scott Weiland and replacing him with Linkin Park vocalist Chester Bennington. Weiland had been on a downward spiral of addiction for nearly 20 years, and the quartet—DeLeo,... 

Ricky Skaggs & Bruce Hornsby

Ricky Skaggs & Bruce Hornsby
Ricky Skaggs & Bruce Hornsby Two master musicians team up for an exhilarating bluegrass project Bluegrass has rules, and although Ricky Skaggs is very good at playing by those rules, he’s furthered his career by breaking them. A child prodigy, the virtuoso mandolinist and vocalist detoured from the genre in the 1980s and early ’90s into mainstream country, scoring nearly a dozen No. 1 hits and a shelf full of Grammys. But it was Skaggs’... 

JULIE ROBERTS

JULIE ROBERTS
JULIE ROBERTS Finding that signing with Sun Records was definitely not a bad decision Good things come to those who wait—just ask Julie Roberts. After early success with 2004’s hit “Break Down Here,” the country singer released a couple of albums with a major label, then self-released her last project in 2011. But her latest, Good Wine and Bad Decisions, is a breakout. It’s the first full-length album launched by famed Sun Records—once... 

DREAM THEATER

DREAM THEATER
DREAM THEATER Taking changes in stride, the prog metal icons return in epic form  Four years ago prog metal giants Dream Theater were forced to navigate stormy seas when drummer and founding member Mike Portnoy left the band. Through the period of transition, the remaining members—singer James LaBrie, guitarist John Petrucci, keyboardist Jordan Rudess, bassist John Myung, and new drummer Mike Mangini—emerged stronger. “That whole transformation... 

KORN

KORN
KORN Back from the brink with a new album and an old friend For years alternative metal band Korn became synonymous with drugs. They wrote about them, were addicted to them, and were ultimately consumed by them. Meth forced Brian “Head” Welch to quit the band in 2005, while the remaining members—singer Jonathan Davis, guitarist James “Munky” Shaffer, bassist Reginald “Fieldy” Arvizu and drummer David Silveria (replaced by Ray Luzier... 

THE AVETT BROTHERS

THE AVETT BROTHERS
THE AVETT BROTHERS Material for the folk favorites’ latest album proved an easy find  “We really overdid it, recording all those songs,” laughs Scott Avett. He’s talking about the band’s new album, Magpie and the Dandelion, which is composed almost entirely of songs recorded during their 2011 sessions with producer Rick Rubin for their last album, The Carpenter. “After we put out The Carpenter, we knew the songs we didn’t use were... 

ICONA POP

ICONA POP
ICONA POP A monster hit launches a club-friendly debut album for the Swedish duo   From radio to TV ads to movies, Icona Pop’s “I Love It” has infiltrated every corner of pop culture. “I didn’t expect over 40 million views on YouTube,” says Aino Jawo. She and Caroline Hjelt formed the duo in 2009 and recently released their debut album, This Is…Icona Pop. “We went out clubbing and heard our song in every one,” says Jawo. “We... 

Cage the Elephant

Cage the Elephant
Cage the Elephant Overcoming fear leads to inspiration for the indie rockers’ latest Cage the Elephant picked an odd title for their third album, Melophobia. The name refers to a fear of music, which seems like an unfortunate condition for a group of musicians. In the case of the Kentucky quintet, though, they’re only averse to certain types of music—specifically, the kind that doesn’t feel honest. “We were trying to fight that voice of... 

EARTH, WIND & FIRE

EARTH, WIND & FIRE
EARTH, WIND & FIRE                          R&B’s legendary performers revisit their iconic sound on a new set     “It was a totally different thing, and when you have the right thing at the right time, you can’t stop it,” says Ralph Johnson, who’s been Earth, Wind & Fire’s percussionist since 1971, just two years after the group formed. Earth, Wind & Fire was a force of nature through the 1970s and ’80s,... 

KENNY ROGERS

KENNY ROGERS
KENNY ROGERS The Gambler rolls the dice on his dream of making chart history at 75    “My current audience falls into two groups,” says Kenny Rogers. “Those born after 1980 whose parents made them listen to my music as child abuse, and those born before the ’60s who can no longer remember that decade.” That’s a typical self-deprecating comment from one of this year’s Country Music Hall of Fame inductees—an honor that Rogers says... 

SAMMY HAGAR

SAMMY HAGAR
SAMMY HAGAR The Red Rocker marks a milestone with an album full of famous friends   In 1973, Sammy Hagar recorded one of the great rock screams of all time on the intro of Montrose’s “Rock Candy.” It was only the first of many howls to come from a 26-year-old kid who would go on to a singular career that included hit records as a solo artist and as frontman for bands like Van Halen and Chickenfoot. Four decades later there’s no end in sight—and... 

WILL LEE

WILL LEE
WILL LEE Late night TV’s ace of bass releases a star-studded solo project   His nightly gig on the Late Show With David Letterman makes Will Lee one of America’s most visible bassists. Since 1982, Lee has excelled in the pressure cooker of live TV, backing countless guest stars. He also tours with Israeli guitarist Oz Noy and takes the stage weekly with the Fab Faux, a group that performs stunning recreations of the Beatles catalog. Now Lee... 

TEDESCHI TRUCKS BAND

TEDESCHI TRUCKS BAND
TEDESCHI TRUCKS BAND For these Grammy-winning blues rockers, the bar is always set high   The Tedeschi Trucks Band is only three years old, but its namesakes, Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks, have been married more than a decade, and they’re about to take their best collaborations—their two children—to watch the Pittsburgh Pirates’ batting practice before tonight’s concert. “The kids are a balancing influence on the road,” Tedeschi... 

COURT YARD HOUNDS

COURT YARD HOUNDS
COURT YARD HOUNDS Two former Chicks find a new confidence on their second set Martie Maguire and Emily Robison were still forging an identity beyond the Dixie Chicks when they released a self-titled album as Court Yard Hounds in 2010. Now the sisters are back with a second effort, Amelita—and with it comes a deeper confidence about their musical direction. Their first album was personal, but Maguire and Robison turned their focus outward on Amelita,... 

BOOKER T. JONES

BOOKER T. JONES
BOOKER T. JONES An architect of the Memphis sound takes his B3 on a new adventure In the ’60s, Stax Records house band Booker T. & the MG’s backed a host of Memphis soul stars, including Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, and Albert King. But beginning with 1962’s classic “Green Onions,” the quartet scored several chart-topping instrumental hits of their own. Since the group disbanded, frontman Booker T. Jones, 68, has lent his signature... 

GLORIA ESTEFAN

GLORIA ESTEFAN
GLORIA ESTEFAN Realizing a longtime dream with her take on timeless tunes     Since her 1985 breakthrough with the Miami Sound Machine, Gloria Estefan’s hits like “Anything for You,” “1-2-3” and “Live for Loving You” have added a Cuban flavor to pop success that’s made the Havana-born songstress a household name. After more than 20 albums, Estefan’s latest is a far cry from her early kinetic dance grooves. On the aptly titled... 

ELVIS COSTELLO & THE ROOTS

ELVIS COSTELLO & THE ROOTS
ROOTS ROCKERS Master wordsmith Elvis Costello funks up with musical magicians the Roots By Russell Hall Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson knows how to bide his time. Nearly five years ago, the Roots’ drummer and bandleader met for the first time with talk show host Jimmy Fallon to discuss potential musical guests for Fallon’s new late night TV show. As newly hired music director—with the Roots as house band—Questlove listened intently as Fallon... 

ARCTIC MONKEYS

ARCTIC MONKEYS
ARCTIC MONKEYS The English indie rockers dive into an R&B groove on their new set  Four albums—and seven years—after releasing their debut, Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, the Arctic Monkeys’ latest record, AM, finds the band tapping into R&B melodies to shake up their guitar-driven sound. “We started with, ‘What if you go with Aaliyah melodies and riffs from Black Sabbath?’” says frontman Alex Turner. “Some... 

FLEETWOOD MAC

FLEETWOOD MAC
FLEETWOOD MAC These days the road has never been smoother for the Hall of Fame rockers   Fleetwood Mac has been virtually synonymous with two things—classic songs and internal drama. Both aspects were epitomized on the group’s 1977 multiplatinum album Rumours, but only recently has their legendary volatility been stripped away. “If you go back to 2003, when we were coming off the making of Say You Will, there was still a bit of tension between... 

ASHANTI

ASHANTI
ASHANTI The R&B chart-topper faces down the labels and goes her own way   She stars on TV’s Army Wives, has her own fragrance, and contributed to Artists Stand Up to Cancer’s “Just Stand Up!” single, but busy Ashanti still found time to write and record her fifth album, Braveheart. The first release on her own label, Written Entertainment, pitted Ashanti the artist against Ashanti the businesswoman. “As much as I’d love to be in... 

ROBERT RANDOLPH

ROBERT RANDOLPH
ROBERT RANDOLPH The pedal-steel powerhouse blazes funky new trails on his latest set By Bob Cannon On Lickety Split, the latest album by Robert Randolph and the Family Band, Robert Randolph takes the pedal steel guitar where no one has gone before. In his hands the instrument is no longer just the province of weepy country ballads—it contains multiple personalities, a musical Sybil that alternately evokes the ghosts of Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimi... 

TOM JONES

TOM JONES
TOM JONES The legendary Welsh heartthrob strips down (musically) for his new set Tom Jones ready to call it quits? Not a chance. “The fire has not gone out,” he says, “and to keep that fire burning, I have to sing new songs.” Jones, 73, established himself in the 1960s and ’70s as a swinging sex symbol with hits like “What’s New Pussycat?” and “It’s Not Unusual” before returning to the charts with his version of Prince’s “Kiss”... 

KT TUNSTALL

KT TUNSTALL
KT TUNSTALL The pop folkie kicks expectations to make her own kind of music  For KT Tunstall, the catalyst for her fourth album, Invisible Empire // Crescent Moon, was meeting veteran rocker Howe Gelb, frontman for Giant Sand. The Scottish singer-songwriter, 38, accepted Gelb’s invitation to record in Tucson, Ariz. Looking only to experiment with sounds, Tunstall came away with a collection of Americana-inspired songs—a marked departure from... 

AMY GRANT

AMY GRANT
AMY GRANT Life changes kick-start a creative revival for the Christian music icon  “I love all forms of the creative process, whether it’s cooking a meal or doing an art project,” says Amy Grant, “but I’d forgotten how much I missed that really intense process of making an album.” When it came time to record How Mercy Looks From Here, her first full-length album in eight years, Grant—who began her career as a contemporary Christian... 

THE NATIONAL

THE NATIONAL
THE NATIONAL Collecting critical raves and fans the old-fashioned way—one at a time    They’re no overnight sensation, but over the course of nearly 15 years and a half-dozen albums, New York indie-rockers the National have reached impressive critical and commercial heights. As they play high-profile slots at Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza this summer and release their latest album, Trouble Will Find Me, the group acknowledges that slow and steady... 

BLAKE SHELTON

BLAKE SHELTON
BLAKE SHELTON  Country’s fiercely independent superstar revels in pushing boundaries     For Blake Shelton, celebrity is simply part of the package that comes with being a successful musician. That philosophy has kept him grounded despite massive stardom gained as a mentor on TV’s mega-hit The Voice. Shelton’s easy wit and charm have endeared him to millions, even as he’s endured his share of slings and arrows. “I learned a long time... 

INDIA.ARIE

INDIA.ARIE
INDIA.ARIE                           The distinctive artist defines success—and her music—in her own terms     “I had no idea I could make an album in six months,” says India.Arie of her fifth studio project, SongVersation. “I’ve never done anything that fast. Ever. I don’t do anything fast. But I told myself that’s what I needed to do—and I did it. I’m still laughing at that one.” That kind of speed hardly sounds... 

MEGADETH

MEGADETH
MEGADETH Dave Mustaine explains why these metal icons aren’t afraid to take risks  Megadeth’s latest album, Super Collider, celebrates 30 years in the metal trenches—and it will certainly satisfy the cravings of fans who feast on the band’s stock-in-trade: shock-and-awe thrash metal. But it may also confuse—and even anger—some die-hard headbangers. This is the most melodic record frontman Dave Mustaine has made in years, and there’s... 

NATALIE MAINES

NATALIE MAINES
NATALIE MAINES A Chick stops whistling Dixie to rock Cali with Ben Harper Dixie Chicks fans might be surprised that Natalie Maines chose a rock direction for her solo album debut, Mother, but for the Texas native it was all about getting back to her roots. “Anything but country music was what I listened to growing up,” says the 13-time Grammy winner. “It was all pop, rock and R&B.” Maines recorded Mother at Ben Harper’s L.A. studio,... 

TERRI LYNE CARRINGTON

TERRI LYNE CARRINGTON
TERRI LYNE CARRINGTON  Musician, composer, professor—for this busy drummer, the beat never stops By Jeff Tamarkin Hearing Terri Lyne Carrington rattle off the list of artists she’s drummed with is jaw-dropping: Herbie Hancock, Joni Mitchell, Wayne Shorter, Stan Getz, Al Jarreau, Dianne Reeves, Carlos Santana, for starters. These giants and scores more of their stature seek her out for her airtight timekeeping, creative impulses and sensitivity... 

STEVE EARLE

STEVE EARLE
STEVE EARLE A powerful storyteller takes a hard look at hard times    “All singer-songwriters do this job on groundwork laid by Bob Dylan, who built his own fame based on Woody Guthrie,” says Steve Earle. “We’ve all done it with one foot in the 1930s, even though none of us—including Bob—witnessed that time firsthand. Times are really hard these days. What I’m seeing out the window is a lot closer to what Woody saw than it’s been... 

MARK HORNSBY

MARK HORNSBY
MARK HORNSBY This veteran producer’s goal is to unlock the best in every artist  MARK HORNSBY LEARNED EARLY ON THAT VERSATILITY WAS the key to a successful career as a producer and recording engineer, recalling a mentor who cautioned against getting pigeonholed into a certain sound or style. “If you get locked into just one thing, one day you’re going to wake up and not have any work,” says Hornsby. Hornsby’s never lacked for work. He spent... 

THE BAND PERRY

THE BAND PERRY
THE BAND PERRY Guidance from a production guru yields a meticulously crafted album   After the success of the Band Perry’s 2010 debut album and multiplatinum smash “If I Die Young,” the family band was uncertain about their follow-up record, Pioneer. So the country trio trekked to Malibu, Calif., to hone their songs with the man they called the Song Doctor, producer Rick Rubin—and hone they did. “Every song we wrote, we rewrote again and... 

PAUL WILLIAMS

PAUL WILLIAMS
PAUL WILLIAMS The once-ubiquitous songwriter returns to stage, screen—and Capitol Hill Paul Williams became wildly successful for penning romantic 1970s hits including “We’ve Only Just Begun,” “An Old Fashioned Love Song” and “Evergreen.” But behind the scenes Paul Williams battled demons of addiction. “I did 48 Tonight shows,” he says. “I remember six.” Goodbye, Johnny Carson; hello, Betty Ford. Today, more than 20 years clean... 

ALICE IN CHAINS

ALICE IN CHAINS
ALICE IN CHAINS Setting the musical bar high and releasing no album before its time      In July 2011, Alice in Chains frontman Jerry Cantrell began working on the band’s new record, but the process proved too painful—not artistically but physically. The guitarist was experiencing severe shoulder pain and underwent surgery to remove bone deposits. A nightmarish scenario for any guitar player, Cantrell wrote it off as an occupational hazard.... 

STEPHEN STILLS

STEPHEN STILLS
STEPHEN STILLS His career at 60 years and counting, an icon looks back—and forward By Jeff Tamarkin Even at 82 tracks packed onto four CDs, Carry On, the new Stephen Stills retrospective boxed set, barely scratches the surface of one of rock’s most iconic careers. After all, how can one afternoon’s listening encapsulate a half-century of creativity? We first heard Stills in 1966 with Buffalo Springfield (“For What It’s Worth” remains... 

ROBYN HITCHOCK

ROBYN HITCHOCK
ROBYN HITCHCOCK   The enduring godfather of alt-rock is still full of sonic surprises  By Russell Hall  If Robyn Hitchcock never again hears the word “quirky,” that’ll be just fine with him. “I think what people mean is that, for me, an idea can come from anywhere,” he says. “They come from under the table, from behind the sofa, or from the back of a cupboard. They’re not the first places everybody looks. I suppose you could call... 

THE GAME

THE GAME
THE GAME A chart-topping rapper takes on the concept of religion  “I just feel free,” says the Game. “I’ve got good friends, I’m eating right, working out, doing my music. That’s how I feel.” That’s pretty good for the Compton, Calif., native, who was nearly shot to death when a drug deal went awry in 2001. Even after being signed by Dr. Dre in 2003, the artist born Jayceon Taylor feuded with 50 Cent, Jay-Z and Dre, leaving the... 

ERIC BURDON

ERIC BURDON
ERIC BURDON One of rock’s most distinctive voices gets personal with a new album   Ask Eric Burdon what’s on his mind and he says, “Being successful at my next gig.” After a half-century of lending his voice to hits, including “The House of the Rising Sun,” “It’s My Life,” and “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” for British Invasion band the Animals, and offering funk icons War their first taste of stardom in 1970 with “Spill... 

RICHARD THOMPSON

RICHARD THOMPSON
RICHARD THOMPSON The British folk-rock hero makes an Americana connection on his latest Richard Thompson is not content to stay in one musical place. Since the 1960s, when his ace guitar skills led Fairport Convention into the rarified league of groundbreaking musicians who invented British folk rock, he’s been something of a human prism, shifting and turning his talents to spotlight musical beauty—sometimes in the unlikeliest of places, as when... 

AARON NEVILLE

AARON NEVILLE
AARON NEVILLE An American treasure revisits the music that honed his otherworldly vocals   Aaron Neville has sung R&B, gospel and country, everywhere from Bourbon Street to Sesame Street, but now he’s returning to the street-corner sounds he’s loved since boyhood with his doo-wop record, My True Story. For the new album, Neville’s first on Blue Note Records, he called label president Don Was, who in turn reached out to longtime doo-wop... 

KRIS KRISTOFFERSON

KRIS KRISTOFFERSON
KRIS KRISTOFFERSON On his new album, a legendary storyteller sizes up a life well lived  At 76, Kris Kristofferson is as focused on his art as he was four decades ago. “For me, the creative part is when I write it and get it on tape,” he says. “After that, I really don’t have anything to do with the business part of it. Let the others do the hard part.” Kristofferson—whose résumé includes Grammy award-winning singer-songwriter, actor,... 

MACY GRAY

MACY GRAY
MACY GRAY Honoring a music legend with a cover of a classic album  Macy Gray was on a mission to honor her personal hero, Stevie Wonder, by covering his iconic album Talking Book. The new record—which coincides with the 40th anniversary of the original’s release—features Gray interpreting classics from “You Are the Sunshine of My Life” to “Superstition.” But don’t call it a tribute record. “It’s a love letter and a big thank... 

UNCLE KRACKER

UNCLE KRACKER
UNCLE KRACKER A pop-rock hit-maker brings his feel-good groove to country music   His 2001 breakout single, “Follow Me,” was a pop smash. But in recent years, Uncle Kracker, aka Matthew Shafer, has shifted from funky post-grunge rock to country, working with producer Keith Stegall (Alan Jackson, Zac Brown Band) and signing with roots label Sugar Hill Records. What hasn’t changed is the Detroit native’s penchant for fun—a philosophy reflected... 

ZIGGY MARLEY

ZIGGY MARLEY
ZIGGY MARLEY Exploring the connection between his father’s legacy and his own artistry Although Ziggy Marley has won five Grammys and garnered widespread acclaim for his work as a humanitarian, author and producer, to many he will always be known as Bob Marley’s eldest son. Rather than distancing himself from his father’s legacy, Marley embraces the spirit and artistry of the legendary performer, who died in 1981. His new album, Ziggy Marley... 

NAS

NAS
NAS   The enduring hip-hop storyteller’s latest title becomes his mantra    Several months after releasing his 10th studio album, Life Is Good, Nas is revisiting the title. “I was watching TV the other night and saw this woman had survived pancreatic cancer,” he says. “I was barely listening, because my mom passed from breast cancer, and sometimes it’s just too hard to watch. But I heard her say, ‘Life is good,’ and I thought, ‘If... 

AIMEE MANN

AIMEE MANN
AIMEE MANN Getting it right for her latest effort required a fresh start After nearly three decades in the music biz and Grammy and Oscar nods under her belt, Aimee Mann wanted a new approach for Charmer, her eighth solo album—so she tossed her original batch of tunes. “I had some songs and played them all back to back and was like, ‘I’m not crazy about these,’” says the 52-year-old singer-songwriter and actress. “They didn’t really... 

JOHN HIATT

JOHN HIATT
JOHN HIATT At 60, the master singer-songwriter still follows wherever the music leads After 40 years and 21 studio albums, John Hiatt knows a thing or two about songcraft. On his new album,  Mystic Pinball, he even manages to make a grocery list interesting, wrapping it up in the grisly story-song, “Wood Chipper.” “It’s a bit of an homage to the Coen Brothers and the wood-chipper scene in Fargo,” he explains. “I started playing the... 

LIFEHOUSE

LIFEHOUSE
LIFEHOUSE Inspiration and experimentation lead to a sound shake-up on their latest    Since their 2001 monster hit “Hanging by a Moment,” Lifehouse has sold more than 15 million albums worldwide. But the big numbers are just a byproduct of the band’s vision. “We’ve been a pretty insulated group,” says lead singer Jason Wade. “We’re on the same label as these acts like Black Eyed Peas, U2 and Lady Gaga, but we do our own thing.”... 
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