NPR Music

For Tiny Desk Playlists, we ask musicians, creators and folks we admire to choose the Tiny Desk concerts they've come to love. For this edition, food expert and television producer Padma Lakshmi picks her five favorites.

Economic fallout due to the pandemic has been "catastrophic" for the performing arts, according to new data from the industry consulting group TRG Arts.

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Music festival season seems ready to go on in 2021. The Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival has posted its lineup, scheduled to run September 2-5. This year's event marks the 20th year of the Manchester, Tenn. festival, which, like everyone else, cancelled last year because of the pandemic.

Precious few have earned – just one, really – the honor to be proclaimed "the Grace Jones of jazz," but Lady Blackbird is not your average interpreter. Blackbird released a bold debut last year with her slow-burning version of Nina Simone's "Blackbird," while her second single, "Beware the Stranger," was a similarly intense reworking of "Wanted Dead or Alive," the rare groove classic popularized by the Voices of East Harlem. Last October, she released a gorgeously melancholy take on the James Gang's "Collage."

March's edition of Heavy Rotation, chosen by NPR member stations, features music from Hiatus Kayote, Jensen McRae, Lake Street Dive and more.

The Morning Edition Song Project is a series where songwriters are asked to write an original song about the COVID era – our newest addition is from music collective and sibling band Infinity Song.

This year, the South by Southwest music festival that takes over Austin, Texas every spring happened online. Couch By Couchwest, as I like to call it, was an on-screen festival, with 289 acts performing roughly 15-minute pre-recorded sets across five days in March. If not whole sets, I watched at least partial performances by nearly half that number, and I've collected a few of my favorites here. You can also hear me talk about some of these performances with All Things Considered host Audie Cornish at the audio link on this page.

James Donald Estopinal — also known as Disco Donnie — has been putting on electronic-music shows for nearly 30 years, and knows that they take a long time to put together. "You can't start a month out," Estopinal says. "You really have to be going full bore is going to happen in the end." Earlier this year, when he saw how vaccinations and hospitalizations were trending, he decided that April would be the time to put on Ubbi Dubbi.

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