WUNC Music

WUNC Music is curated locally with songs that inspire, energize and bring joy to listeners across North Carolina.  It’s a place for music discovery and a home to old favorites.

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Courtesy Cat's Cradle

The pandemic has devastated the arts industry in North Carolina including musicians, venues and the people they employ. A new recording released Thursday aims to lend a hand to one of the legendary venues in this state, the Cat's Cradle in Carrboro.

Album cover for Libby Rodenbough's 'Spectacle Of Love'
Sleepy Cat Records

Libby Rodenbough is taking a break from the indie Americana band Mipso to release her debut solo album Spectacle of Love. The Durham-based musician is expanding her musical pallet with contributions that include electric piano, synthesizers and even bass clarinet.  The songs are mysterious and beautiful with echoes of artists from Rickie Lee Jones, to Andrew Bird, to Gillian Welch.

All around the country, NPR member stations are not only a vital source of news but music, arts and culture, too. We are grateful that music stations never stopped providing their unique blend of programming for listeners during this ongoing pandemic. They also provided critical support for their local music economies.

We usually ask our stations to pick songs that are in heavy rotation on their broadcast logs for this series. But given that we're halfway through 2020, we wanted to know our station's favorite songs of the year so far.

Sudan Archives is a truly singular artist, inspired by Irish and African music, especially Sudanese music. The first time I saw her was in a crowd of people at Cheer Up Charlies during SXSW in March of 2018. The show was wild and wonderful: effects pedals transformed her violin into a full-on band, with electronic beats keeping it all moving.

The family of the late American rock legend Tom Petty has sent a cease-and-desist letter to the Trump campaign after it blasted the song "I Won't Back Down" at the president's rally in Tulsa, Okla.

In a statement posted to Petty's Twitter account on Saturday, the family said the use of the song was "in no way authorized."

Album cover for Chatham County Line's 'Strange Fascination
Yep Roc Records

It's hard to believe, but Chatham County Line has been making music for two decades. The band's new release is called 'Strange Fascination' and is the first since the retirement of banjo ace Chandler Holt. It's also the first to feature drums across the entire album.

Dave Wilson is the guitarist, lead vocalist and chief songwriter for the band. John Teer handles mandolin, fiddle and soaring harmonies and Greg Readling holds down the bass and plays the piano.

Image of Joe Troop on the left and Diego Sanchez on the right, who play together to form an acoustic world music sound.
Joe Troop

Joe Troop is the lone North Carolinian in the Grammy nominated band Che Apalache.  Like just about everyone else, Joe is staying at home during the pandemic which has taken a heavy toll on musicians who can no longer play in front of live audiences. That's a serious blow to their livelihood.

BJ Barham is back with his band American Aquarium.  The North Carolina native released a solo record called Rockingham a few years ago, returned with his band on Things Change and is now releasing the appropriately titled Lamentations into the world of lock downs and quarantines.

Lately, we've been sharing some of favorite entries to the 2020 Tiny Desk Contest, which closed for entries on April 27. We've seen entries from every state in the country; from big bands and solo artists; and from a huge range of styles and genres — and now, our judges will start to comb through our entries to find a winner.

Album cover for Skylar Gudasz 'Cinema'
Courtesy of the artist

Skylar Gudasz has a new record out today called Cinema. The Durham-based singer-songwriter worked with four co-producers, but guided the project herself, playing most of the instruments while recording in North Carolina and at Justin Vernon's place in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. 

Winston-Salem's Caleb Caudle has been hanging out with members of Wilco, The Jayhawks and Robert Plant's band. And, he's been recording in Johnny Cash's legendary cabin studio just outside of Nashville. The result is the new collection Better Hurry Up. Caudle sat down with WUNC's Eric Hodge recently to talk about the new album.

One of Better Hurry Up's highlights is 'Monte Carlo.' Caudle says he recalls riding around in the back of his grandfather's Monte Carlo growing up.

Album cover for Jonathan Wilson's 'Dixie Blur'
BMG/Bella Union Records

North Carolina native Jonathan Wilson has come home on his new record Dixie Blur.  The long-time California resident was talking to Steve Earle at a session of the live-music radio program E-Town when Earle suggested he take his latest batch of songs to Nashville to record with live musicians.  On past efforts, Wilson often worked alone in his studio outside of Los Angeles, playing all the instruments himself.

Single Art
Rose DeConto, based on art by Dogstar Tattoo

WUNC Music is excited to share 'Dream The Sun,' the first single from Durham's The Pinkerton Raid's fifth full length album, due out in early 2021.


Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack as Wye Oak
Courtesy of Kendall Bailey Atwater

Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack are once again making music as Wye Oak. That's not easy when they're also playing in Bon Iver, Lambchop, Sylvan Esso and their own solo projects 'Flock of Dimes' and 'Joyero.'

There are three new singles to listen to as well.

The duo has expanded their band for a tour that includes a stop tonight at Baldwin Auditorium in Durham. You can hear more of their music at WUNCMusic.org, on the WUNC app and at 91.5 HD2.

An image of Cindy Howes
Cindy Howes

Chapel Hill, NC – WUNC Music, the Music Discovery streaming radio station produced by NPR News/Talk WUNC-FM in Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill, is adding its first on-air host. Cindy Howes, formerly the morning host of WYEP-FM in Pittsburgh and current host of Folk Alley and the Basic Folk podcast, will begin Monday, February 24 as on-air host from 12 – 6 pm Mondays through Saturdays.

If you ask Trixie Mattel — the winner of RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars in 2018 — her success as a drag queen isn't worth as much as you might think. "Being one of the most famous drag queens in the world is still only about as much fame as going home first in The Voice in like, 2010," she jokes.

This month on Station Breaks, NPR Music member stations steer you away from the mainstream with a diverse list of their favorite new musical discoveries. In this edition, hear the easygoing electronica of Steve Spacek, the retro-soul of Durand Jones & The Indications, a skyline-set performance from Say Girl Say and more.

Songs from this month will be available to stream on the NPR Slingshot Spotify playlist at the bottom of the page.


In the past year, we've had some pretty big names come perform at the Tiny Desk: Lizzo,

This month's installment of Heavy Rotation is full of some of January's most exciting releases and collaborations, hand-picked by NPR Public Radio Member Stations. Revive your playlists with this new mix of everything from effervescent, sticky-sweet pop to homegrown blends of soul and psych-funk.

On All Things Considered 40 years ago this month, here's how host Noah Adams introduced an iconic album:

"New music from a group said by some critics to be the best rock and roll band in the world: The band's name is The Clash, the record is London Calling."

London Calling stood out from the punk rock of its time: It was political, knowing and clever. Compact disks were still a few years away, so the album's 19 songs spilled over two vinyl disks.

The complete list of winners of the 62nd annual Grammy Awards, presented on Jan. 26, 2020, is below.

2020 Slingshot Artists To Watch

Jan 9, 2020

It's a new decade and a fresh chance for emerging artists to shine. As part of Slingshot, NPR music stations have chosen a select group of artists who are sure to do big things in 2020. Some have been around for a bit, but just never had the chance to "slingshot" into the popular music space. Packed with discoveries, our 2020 Artists To Watch list features a diverse celebration of artists, with many releasing new projects later this year.

The Come Up Show, Ebru Yildiz and Hans Watson

North Carolina musicians made waves on the national stage in 2019. Close to a dozen artists from the state, including Rhiannon Giddens, DaBaby and J.Cole, are up for Grammy Awards in 2020, and new talent keeps popping up.

An image of Kate Rhudy
Kendall Bailey Atwater

WUNC Music is excited to share 'Dance It Away' - the new single from Raleigh's Kate Rhudy. It's the first new music from Rhudy since 2017's 'Rock N' Roll Ain't For Me' and was produced by Jack Hallenbeck (Maggie Rogers) and Kate Rhudy in Los Angeles & Raleigh.

Joni Mitchell’s Chapel Hill Christmas

Dec 23, 2019
An image of Joni Mitchell
Henry Diltz

This time of year families come back together and share stories.  For Will Blythe, a writer who grew up in Chapel Hill there was one piece of family history that had him convinced he, and the town of Chapel Hill, was connected to this seasonal classic by Joni Mitchell.

An image of James Taylor
Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images

We've teamed up with Come Hear NC on a podcast series that explores North Carolina music one song at a time. This week, we look at the one song that most everyone identifies with our home state. Writer Will Blythe joins Eric Hodge to talk about James Taylor's 'Carolina In My Mind.' He says it's a song that affects people both young and old.

An image of  The Red Clay Rambers
John Rosenthal

We've teamed up with Come Hear NC on a podcast series that explores North Carolina music one song at a time. This time, former Cat's Cradle owner and Crook's Corner chef Bill Smith talks about The Red Clay Ramblers. Smith saw The Red Clay Ramblers perform all the time in the early days of Cat's Cradle. For this episode, he focuses on their version of the song 'Aragon Mill.'

An image of Nina Simone
Jack Robinson / Getty Images

We've teamed up with Come Hear NC on a podcast series that explores North Carolina music one song at a time. On this episode, HC McEntire joins Eric Hodge to talk about Nina Simone's 'I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free.' Like Nina Simone, McEntire grew up in Tryon, NC. She says the music Simone made often illuminates the challenges people in the South face, even to this day.

An image of Michaela Anne
Matt Wignall

Michaela Anne grew up the daughter of a Navy officer. That means she moved around - a lot. In turn, that constant uprooting fuels some of the songs on her new album, 'Desert Dove.' She spoke with Eric Hodge about her upbringing and the process of recording the new album.

One of the themes she explores is constantly being on the move, both growing up and as a touring musician. On 'Child of the Wind' Michaela sings that her "home town was a back seat looking at highway signs."

An image of Skylar Gudasz
Roxanne Turpen

WUNC Music is excited to share the video for Skylar Gudasz's cover of the Glen Campbell and Jimmy Webb classic 'Wichita Lineman.' The song was originally recorded in 1968 by Campbell, backed by the notorious Wrecking Crew - L.A.'s premiere collective of studio musicians. 

Gudasz had this to say about the inspiration: