The best folk music released in 2013 was, almost without exception, of the intensely personal variety. These remarkable albums struggled with addiction and death, coming of age, faith and the unstoppable rhythm of change. Three of these releases came from well-loved artists making music in ways that nobody saw coming. But all of the recordings listed below challenged us to open our minds and consider things differently, find beauty in small places and discover possibility in life's many challenges.
Petula Clark's show business career spans more than 70 years, from the time of the Blitz to the era of the blog. She found signature hits, including "Downtown" and "I Know a Place," in the 1960s and '70s.
But she began her career decades earlier, as an 8-year-old girl in a London theater, in the early years of the Second World War. The BBC had been using the theater as a studio because of its strategic location: underground.
Before Guatemalan actor and singer Oscar Isaac auditioned with the Coen Brothers for the title role in their new film, Inside Llewyn Davis, his friends told him that he would love the brothers — and that he wouldn't get the part or ever hear back from them. They were right about him loving the filmmakers, but not so much when it came to Isaac getting a call.
British actress Carey Mulligan plays a tough-skinned woman by the name of Jean Berkey in the new Coen Brothers film Inside Llewyn Davis. In the movie, she sings alongside Justin Timberlake in the duo Jim and Jean, but has issues with the film's title character.
On Friday's episode of World Cafe, Mulligan talks with host David Dye about how playing the part was liberating, and how the challenge to sing live proved to be an enjoyable experience.
Back in 2005, we talked with Elijah Wald about his biography of folksinger Dave Van Ronk, The Mayor of MacDougal Street. Wald was Van Ronk's guitar student and finished the book after the influential musician died in 2002.