Folk – The New Frontier

by Elianna B. Thorne Growing up, we used to listen to bluegrass music on our summer road trips. I came to associate the undulating lines of banjo, mandolin, guitar, and fiddle with the endless unwinding of the highway in front of us. It was the sound of dust, of new adventures, of miles of possibilities…

Leyla McCalla

GENRES: Folk, Cajun, Jazz, Blues FOUND ON: Airline in-flight music Leyla McCalla is a bit difficult to categorize; perhaps the best way to do her justice is to throw out the box altogether. So here she is, a musician, singer, and songwriter who takes her inspiration from the rich soil of New Orleans and from…

Maren Morris

GENRES: Country, Pop FOUND ON: TV commercial, TV concert special Maren Morris casually blurs the line between country and pop, a line that has become more and more arbitrary as the decades roll on. Morris does it better than most, as her songwriting is in a class by itself. A songwriter turned performer, she is…

Teagrass

GENRES: Eastern European folk, bluegrass FOUND ON: bluegrass radio show Here’s something you probably didn’t know existed: Czech bluegrass. From an underground movement of mandolin and banjo players half a world away from bluegrass music’s American roots comes a band that combines the best elements of two very different types of folk music to create…

Echosmith

GENRES: Soft pop, stadium pop, synth pop FOUND ON: TV soundtracks You may have heard Echosmith on the radio and not known which song was theirs, or you may have heard them backing up a scene on TV. While definitely a pop band, Echosmith can be difficult to classify. Their versatility gives them a flexible…

Maroon 5

GENRES: Pop, Rock, flavor of the month FOUND ON: Literally everywhere Maroon 5 is a Top 40 marvel: a band that has remained popular while still keeping its soul, mostly by being as changeable as a chameleon. You name it, Maroon 5 has done it. But their great skill is in their timeless individuality, which…

Gabriel Kahane

GENRES: Musical theatre, Classical, Jazz, Folk FOUND ON: Article in “The New Yorker” It’s hard to put a label on Gabriel Kahane, but beyond genre or anything else he is a composer. He writes musicals, classical song cycles, meandering lyrical melodies, and folk ballads. His work is highly verbal, extraordinarily complex, a swirling symphonic painting…

Nico & Vinz

GENRES: Pop, Hiphop, African folk FOUND ON: Pop radio So, this is cool. Anyone remember the song “Am I Wrong” that was on the radio a couple summers ago? That was recorded by this duo, a pair of Norwegian rappers from African families. The duo’s unique heritage has fed into a unique approach to pop…

Lianne La Havas

GENRES: Soul, R&B, Acoustic pop FOUND ON: “The Catch” TV show If you’re searching for pure sonic magic, look no further than Lianne La Havas. Her style is at once vintage and cutting edge, relying on insightful personal lyrics and a delicate touch. Rather than the heavy, heart-rending soul of the ’70’s, she deftly balances…

Yo-Yo Ma

GENRES: Classical, World music, Jazz, Bluegrass, Film music FOUND ON: Everything It would be quicker to list what this man hasn’t done. Yo-Yo Ma, who started his career as a prodigy cellist, has collaborated with everyone who is anyone in music, and has even appeared on Sesame Street. While maintaining his ties to the classical…

Fleet Foxes

GENRES: Folk, Folk rock FOUND ON: Song on Pentatonix album Fleet Foxes is a British group with an earthy, antique sound that is simultaneously very current. Folk rock makes us feel relaxed and empowered, and it helps if the ensemble is harmonically and sonically creative. Fleet Foxes have a signature sound that utilizes a hollow…

Caro Emerald

GENRES: Retro / Brazilian / Cinematic Jazz FOUND ON: “Marvel’s Agent Carter” TV show Travel back in time, to an era of scratchy records and sultry, sassy jazz. This is where Caro Emerald lives, in a technicolor world of which she is the chief torch singer. The Dutch singer effortlessly applies her talents to numbers…