Lourdes Garcia-Navarro

This year, many people have been turning to music for catharsis, but Mama Haze, aka songwriter Meaghan Maples, has been tapping into music's healing powers for a long time. Before pursuing music full-time, the Oakland, Calif.-based artist was a doula and caregiver, often prescribing music as an antidote to patients' pain.

This year's Tiny Desk Contest wrapped up at the beginning of August with the announcement of our winner, Linda Diaz, and her song "Green Tea Ice Cream." But NPR Music's panel of judges saw over 6000 entries from around the country, and there was more than one incredible submission.

Koko Kondo was 8 months old and with her mother when the first atomic bomb hit her home city of Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945. Her father, Methodist minister the Rev. Kiyoshi Tanimoto, had left earlier that morning.

"Suddenly, the whole house crashed," Kondo recounts. She was trapped beneath the rubble with her mother.

When cases of the coronavirus spiked in March, doctors and nurses across the country found themselves overwhelmed with work. The shutdown also took away an important creative outlet for a special breed of medical professional: classical musicians. That's why John Masko, a symphony conductor in Boston, founded the National Virtual Medical Orchestra, giving those in the medical field a chance to perform and connect with each other.

"I kept hearing from musician after musician from our ensemble [about] how much they wish they were playing," Masko says.

Humans have never been particularly good at eradicating entire viruses, and COVID-19 might not be any different.

So many of us do it: You get into bed, turn off the lights, and look at your phone to check Twitter one more time.

You see that coronavirus infections are up. Maybe your kids can't go back to school. The economy is cratering.

Still, you incessantly scroll though bottomless doom-and-gloom news for hours as you sink into a pool of despair.

As the number of new coronavirus cases spikes in several states across the U.S., governors, county officials and business owners have been crafting laws and guidelines that mandate the use of face masks to help prevent the spread of the virus.

But even a simple cloth face covering has become political.

Padma Lakshmi — the host of the cooking competition Top Chef — is on a new gastronomical journey, taking her to places you've probably heard of, like Chinatown in San Franscisco, and others you may not, like Little Lima in New Jersey.

The new show is called Taste the Nation, and Lakshmi does not shy away from the complicated history and politics that remind us who is really at the center of our favorite "American" dishes: immigrants.

When Beyoncé deems your music "flawless," you know you've probably made it. That's more or less what happened to the sister R&B duo, Chloe x Halle, when they passed their latest album, Ungodly Hour, to Beyoncé for feedback.

"We love Beyoncé so much and we value her opinion so very much, so whenever we can get her feedback on something, it's very much appreciated," Halle Bailey says. "But for this album, we only heard positive things and that she loved it. So that really made us happy and feel proud."

Zeshan Bagewadi is in many ways, a classic soul singer. As Zeshan B, he channels the music of Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye and Otis Redding. His signature, though, is combining that classic soul sound with lyrics that pay tribute to his South Asian roots. On his latest album, Melismatic, his first collection of entirely original compositions, he sings in both English and Urdu.

The first sign that something was wrong came with stomach pains. It was April 30, and 9-year-old Kyree McBride wasn't feeling well.

His mother, Tammie Hairston, thought it might have been something that he ate. But soon, young McBride was battling a 102-degree fever.

Worried he may have contracted the coronavirus, Hairston took her son to the hospital. "It was a quick in and out of the emergency room," she said. Doctors told her to take him home and monitor him.

Alt.Latino host Felix Contreras joins Weekend Edition host Lulu Garcia-Navarro for their monthly new music chat. The tracks featured this week come from several corners of the Latin music world and all center on themes of inspiration and emotional release, which Felix says is exactly what we need during these difficult times. Listen to the conversation in the audio player above and check out all of the tracks below.

On her latest EP, Noah Cyrus wants you to know that you're not alone in feeling alone. Blending the spirit of classic country music with the sensibilities of today's pop, it's called The End of Everything — which feels like a good title for this moment.

Noah comes from quite the musical family, but now, with songs like "July" and "I Got So High That I Saw Jesus," she's finding her own voice.

"I wasn't afraid of fighting," Ilhan Omar writes about her childhood in Somalia in her new memoir. "I felt like I was bigger and stronger than everyone else — even if I knew that wasn't really the case."

In This Is What America Looks Like: My Journey from Refugee to Congresswoman, Omar chronicles her childhood in a middle-class family compound in Mogadishu, followed by civil war, four years in a refugee camp, a journey to the United States and ultimately her election to Congress as a Democrat representing Minnesota's 5th district.

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Nnamdi Ogbonnaya, who releases music as NNAMDÏ, has been a staple of Chicago's indie scene for years. He's been called the city's "weirdest musician," and his most recent album, Brat, explores what happens when a kid who dreams of being an artist actually finds success.

What happens when you go back to a place you thought was your home, only to find it profoundly different? That's the subject explored in Puerto Rican indie pop duo Buscabulla's debut album, Regresa, out on May 8.

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A new TV series has sashayed onto HBO's streaming platform this week in high heels, of course. It's called "We're Here" - about the uplifting power of drag performance.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

Wu Fei and Abigail Washburn, who released a self-titled debut album as a duo on Friday, have lived almost parallel lives. Both women were born in 1977, and both grew up to be accomplished and virtuosic folk musicians, albeit in completely different folk traditions. Wu is a composer and a world-renowned virtuoso on the guzheng, a 2500-year-old string instrument which is a staple of Chinese folk music. Meanwhile, Washburn is a banjo player who has won a Grammy Award for her reinterpretations of traditional Appalachian music.

Kandace Springs' third record is a source of familiarity in uncertain times. Titled The Women Who Raised me, it's full of beloved and recognizable songs associated with jazz artists who inspired and influenced Springs as an artist: Nina Simone, Billie Holiday, Lauryn Hill and Norah Jones, among many others. But the album is not only a tribute to some of those legends, it's also a showcase of Springs' talent for reinterpreting and seamlessly blending genres.

As the coronavirus pandemic intensifies across the country, many churches, synagogues, temples and mosques are temporarily shutting their doors to all public services.

Although there are exemptions for some religious services, congregations are still expected to follow state stay-at-home orders and limitations on gatherings.

British songwriter Dua Lipa has a new album and a new nickname: the quarantine queen."Don't Start Now," the lead single from Future Nostalgia, featured what Vulture called a "social-distance-positive refrain": "Don't show up, don't come out, don't start caring about me now."

Gospel music has always been a source of refuge and hope, and no one knows that better than Almeta Ingram-Miller: Her mother, Maggie Ingram, was known as the Gospel Queen of Richmond, Va. In 1961, she founded one of America's most celebrated gospel groups, Maggie Ingram and the Ingramettes, which performed together for more than five decades. The Ingramettes stopped recording after Maggie Ingram's death in 2015.

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Cecilia Cassandra Peña-Govea is a product of her upbringing. She writes and records music under the name La Doña, and her signature mix of Latin rhythms and San Francisco hip-hop is a tribute to the community she grew up in. Her new EP is called Algo Nuevo, or "Something New."

Even as the number of new coronavirus infections continues to spiral upward in countries around the world, a top global health expert says it's not too late to contain the virus.

"As long as you have these discrete outbreaks ... there is the opportunity to control them — to get on top of these and contain them and prevent a lot of disease and ultimately death," says Dr. Bruce Aylward, a senior adviser to the director-general of the World Health Organization. "That's the big message we saw in China — and one of the big surprises."

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