Lauren Onkey

Lauren Onkey is the Senior Director of NPR Music in Washington, DC. In this role, she leads NPR Music's team of journalists, critics, video, and podcast makers, and works with NPR's newsroom and robust Member station network to expand the impact of NPR Music and continue positioning public radio as an essential force in music.

Prior to joining NPR, she was the inaugural Dean and Chair of the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Humanities Center at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland, Ohio, where she created a program that provided civic engagement opportunities for students. She served as Vice President of Education and Public Programming at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum from 2008-2015, developing and managing the museum's award-winning education and community programs. She was the executive producer of the museum's Annual Music Masters series and oversaw the Rock Hall's Library and Archives.

Onkey spent fourteen years teaching literature and cultural studies at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, specializing in postcolonial literature and popular music studies. She is the author of Blackness and Transatlantic Irish Identity: Celtic Soul Brothers (Routledge 2009), an interdisciplinary study of the relationship between Irish and African-American heritage. Over the course of her career she has published many articles in literary studies, popular music studies, women's studies, and pedagogy. Onkey holds doctoral and master's degrees in English from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and a bachelor's degree in English and Government from the College of William & Mary.

Bob Dylan is finding ways to keep busy during the pandemic. For the third time in a month, he dropped a new original song last night, the bluesy "False Prophet." But this one came with an extra treat: an announcement that he will release a new album, Rough and Rowdy Ways, on June 19. It's his first album of original material since Tempest, in 2012.

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Bob Dylan released "I Contain Multitudes" at midnight, his second new song in three weeks.

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Bob Dylan surprised fans late Thursday night with the release of the epic "Murder Most Foul," a long, delicate song about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

The Band generated mythic status from the start. Crashing on the scene as Bob Dylan's anonymous-but-not-for-long backup band on his controversial and thrilling electrified tours of 1965-66, the group emerged fully formed, capable of both intense and experimentalist noise and tight, basic rock and roll.

Morning Edition's series One-Hit Wonders / Second-Best Songs focuses on musicians or bands whose careers in the United States are defined by a single monster hit, and explains why their catalogs have much more to offer.

Rosanne Cash and her band arrived at NPR to play the Tiny Desk on a freezing cold, bright sunny day in January — one of those brittle, crystal clear winter days when the snow reflects the sun and there's nowhere to hide from the light. Her intense performance had that same balance of heat and ice.

Art Neville's life in music can be described as a straight line, connected directly to rock and roll's first notes. In the first half of the 1950s, musicians were recording R&B tracks — the foundations of rock and roll — at Cosimo Matassa's J&M Studios, led of course by Fats Domino, who recorded his first record there in 1949. Art was never a Fats, but nonetheless was foundational to helping shape the contours of popular music.

Mac Rebennack, better known as Dr. John, made records for more than 60 years. He died Thursday. He started on guitar, but he made his mark as a piano player, traditional and bold enough to take his place in the pantheon of New Orleans giants like Professor Longhair and Allen Toussaint.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Bandcamp playlist at the bottom of the page.


Mavis Staples turns 80 this summer. She's a respected elder of soul and gospel music, a beloved collaborator with rock musicians, and a living embodiment of gospel music's place in the civil rights movement. But she's no static symbol of the past.

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