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Barrett Sisters, the  

Roxanne R. Reed

[Delois Barrett and the Barrett Sisters]

Gospel trio. Its members were Delores [Delois] (soprano), Billie (alto), and Rhodessa (high soprano) Barrett. Hailing from the Southside of Chicago, they grew up with seven other siblings and were members of the Morning Star Baptist Church where they sang in a choir directed by their aunt. As the Barrett–Hudson Singers, Delores and Billie had performed in a group with a cousin, whom Rhodessa later replaced to form the Barrett Sisters. Delores, the eldest and the group’s leader, started singing at the age of six. Her professional career began in earnest after graduating from Englewood High School, when she became the first female to join the Roberta Martin Singers (1944; see martin, Roberta ). Billie and Rhodessa received some formal training, but it was through the Roberta Martin Singers that Delores learned technique and honed her individual style, along with the unique ensemble quality known as the Roberta Martin sound. Delores continued to sing with Martin from time to time, even as the Barrett Sisters took shape. Getting their start as an African American gospel trio, the Barrett Sisters first recorded with the label Savoy (...



Jesús A. Ramos-Kittrell

[Grupo Bronco, El Gigante de América]

Mexican grupera ensemble. Formed by José Guadalupe Esparza, Ramiro Delgado, Javier Villarreal, and José Luis Villarreal in 1979, this band came together at a time when the genre later known as onda grupera was still in development. Influenced by the sounds of cumbia ranchera music, and romantic ballad, the band became a decisive factor in the commercialization of the grupera phenomenon. Not only did Bronco consolidate cowboy clothing as a grupera staple but they also pioneered the use of elaborate staging, fireworks, and gigantic screens in grupera concerts. After seven years of activity Bronco reached international popularity with the hit “Que no quede huella” (1989), and in 1993 starred in Dos mujeres, un camino, a soap opera that became a commercial hit in Latin America. Clothing, concert entertainment, television, and motion pictures brought international recognition for the band in the United States, Latin America, and Europe. Ultimately, these elements, accompanying Bronco’s enormous record and ticket sales, marked the mainstream emergence of onda grupera. After announcing their retirement in ...


Clinch Mountain Boys, the  

Charles Garrett


De La Soul  

Justin Williams

American rap group. Formed in 1987 in Long Island, New York, De La Soul rose to prominence in 1989 with their debut album 3 Feet High and Rising, which helped carve out an alternative niche in rap music. Part of the Native Tongues collective, along with other New York-based groups such as A Tribe Called Quest and the Jungle Brothers, De La Soul’s three members were Plug One (Kelvin “Posdnuos” Mercer; b 1969), Plug Two (David “Trugoy the Dove” Jolicoeur; b 1968; d 2023), and Plug Three (Vincent “Maseo” Mason; b 1970).

The three members met at the predominantly middle-class Amityville High School in Long Island. Maseo then met Paul “Prince Paul” Houston, a slightly older DJ in Amityville who had helped found Stetsasonic; Houston produced De La Soul’s first three albums. The first, Three Feet High and Rising, marks an important turning point in hip hop. The group’s entire approach differed drastically from other rap styles of the time: the floral imagery and bright colors on the album’s cover and De La Soul’s self-proclaimed goal to promote a “D.A.I.S.Y. (Da Inner Sound, Y’all) Age” departed from the street conscious “reality rap” of contemporary groups such as N.W.A. The album sampled a wide variety of sounds, from French lessons to music by Steely Dan and Hall and Oates. Advancements in digital sampling technology, and the skill of producer Houston, allowed the group to create sonic collages similar in approach to those of the Bomb Squad’s productions. The album also included a number of humorous skits, rarely heard on previous rap albums....


Dirty Dozen Brass Band, the  

Matt Sakakeeny

Brass band. Formed in 1977, they initially played traditional New Orleans brass band music at community parades and eventually created innovative arrangements and compositions heard by audiences around the globe. The horn players Gregory Davis, Roger Lewis, Charles Joseph, Efrem Townes, and Kevin Harris incorporated melodic ideas from bebop into the brass band tradition, while the rhythm section of Kirk Joseph, Benny Jones, and Jenell Marshall imported rhythms from funk and increased the tempos from their predecessors. The modern arrangements on the band’s debut album, My feet can’t fail me now (Conc., 1984), produced by the Newport Jazz Festival director George Wein, brought worldwide recognition to contemporary brass band music; two original songs, “Blackbird Special” and the title track soon became standards in the group’s hometown.

The Dirty Dozen helped initiate a brass band renaissance in New Orleans, and their innovative reformulations of traditional music instigated a spirit of experimentation among their successors. The Rebirth Brass Band, inheritors of the Dirty Dozen’s famed weekly show at the intimate Glass House bar, have incorporated elements of hip hop since the late 1990s, along with their contemporaries the Soul Rebels and Hot 8. Meanwhile, the Dirty Dozen has often changed personnel and experimented with instrumentation to update their sound, while maintaining a global presence as the most prominent New Orleans brass band....



Tania Camacho-Azofeifa

Costa Rican trio founded in 1990. It was formed by Edín Solís (b Zarcero, Alajuela, Costa Rica, 22 Nov 1963, guitar), Ricardo Ramírez (b San José, Costa Rica, 11 Nov 1967, violin), and Carlos “Tapado” Vargas (b San José, Costa Rica, 22 Jan 1971, percussion).

Editus is an eclectic group based in San José, Costa Rica. Its style and sound moves from classical music to new age, from jazz to Costa Rican and Latin American folk styles, and from popular to electronic music. Editus’ musical projects, including recordings, DVDs, and tours, typically seek to increase public awareness about environmental and other causes, and to promote social activism. This commitment is clearly expressed from their first recording, Ilusiones (1994), and its single/video, “Tokú,” to their most recent, Editus 360 DVD (2008).

The quality and versatility of the group has proved attractive not only to music schools but also to critics, filmmakers, and other musicians who have invited Editus to collaborate in new artistic and musical projects. One of their most successful partnerships has been with Rubén Blades. Together, Blades and Editus produced the recordings ...


Epoque Quartet  

Ian Mikyska

Czech string quartet, founded 1999. Its line-up has remained constant since its foundation: David Pokorný and Vladimír Klánský on violins, Vladimír Kroupa on viola, and Vít Petrášek on cello. Although classical repertoire remains central to their professional lives, the Epoque Quartet is remarkable for the breadth and professionalism of its ‘crossover’ work. The quartet has performed with the leading artists of Czech popular music, arranged world music from various traditions (most recently with the clarinettist Irvin Venyš for their CD Irvin_Epoque), and given the premières of over 80 pieces, the style of which ranges from rock- and jazz-influenced music to contemporary art music, mostly by Czech composers including Jan Kučera, Petr Wajsar, Jan Dušek, Gabriela Vermelho, and others.

Their open-mindedness and long-standing interest in various musical fields allows them to perform stylistically in a way classically-trained ensembles often find problematic, particularly in terms of rhythm, feeling, and energy when performing jazz- and rock-influenced repertoire....


Gang Starr  

Jared Pauley

Rap duo consisting of Guru (G.U.R.U.; Keith Edward Elam; b Roxbury, MA, 17 July 1961; d New York, NY, 19 April 2010) and DJ Premier (Christopher Edward Martin; b Houston, TX, 21 March 1966). It is considered one of the greatest hip-hop duos of all-time, and its combination of rugged East Coast hip hop with jazz samples was highly influential on the sound of mid-1990s rap music.

Gang Starr was initially formed in 1985 by Elam, who at the time used the stage name Keithy E, and DJ 1 2 B-Down. After the duo disbanded Guru recruited DJ Premier, then going by the name Waxmaster C. The pair released their first studio album, No More Mr. Nice Guy (1989), and quickly gained recognition. They continued to build interest with their song “Jazz Thing,” which was featured prominently in Spike Lee’s film Mo’ Better Blues (1990...




Hsu-nami, the  

Wendy F. Hsu

Rock band. Formed at Ramapo College in Mahwah, New Jersey, the Hsu-nami is an erhu progressive rock band fronted by Taiwanese American erhu player and composer Jack Hsu. Hsu was classically trained in violin. His erhu training included intensive summer lessons in Nanjing, China. The rest of the group is composed of Tony Aichele (guitar), Brent Bergholm (guitar), Dana Goldberg (keyboard), John Manna (drums), and Derril Sellers (bass). The Hsu-nami integrates an amplified “erhu,” a two-string spike fiddle used in Chinese classical and folk music, into an instrumental progressive rock sound. Their music is marked by virtuosic erhu melodies and shredding solos, in place of vocals, intertwined with heavy guitar riffs, funky rhythms, and metal-driven rock drumming. Part of the new-fusion rock movement, the group recasts the sound of its 1960s and 1970s roots.

The band has played alongside international and major recording artists such as Chthonic, Yellowcard, Bowling for Soup, Nightmare of You, and The Parlor Mob. Their music was also featured during the ...


Jan and Dean  

Greil Marcus

revised by Mickey Valley

Rock-and-roll male vocal duo. The singer, songwriter, and producer Jan Berry (b Los Angeles, CA, 3 April 1941; d Brentwood, CA, 26 March 2004) had his first success with the singer Arnie Ginsberg in the hit song, “Jennie Lee” (1958) which was recorded in Berry’s garage. He then formed a permanent partnership with the singer Dean Torrence (b Los Angeles, CA, 10 March 1941), and until 1966, when Berry was disabled in an automobile accident, Jan and Dean represented rock and roll as mindless fun, following and exploiting every new pop trend; their songs were based on doo-wop harmony and celebrated aspects of southern Californian hedonism such as surfing (“Surf City,” 1963, no.1) and fast cars (“Drag City,” 1963, no.10). Although Berry’s vocal abilities were not up to par and Torrence was little better, each managed to make at least one classic rock recording—Berry on Jan and Dean’s brilliantly orchestrated melodrama “Dead Man’s Curve” (...


Judds, the  

David B. Pruett

Country music duo. Comprising Naomi [Diana Ellen] Judd (b Ashland, KY, Jan 1, 1946; d nr Nashville, April 30, 2022) and her daughter Wynonna Judd (née Christina Claire Ciminella; b Ashland, KY, May 30, 1964), they made their major label debut with Wynonna and Naomi (RCA) in 1983 and quickly became the most celebrated duo of the decade, winning the Country Music Association’s Horizon Award (1984) and awards for Vocal Group of the Year (1985–7) and Vocal Duo of the Year (1988–91). Naomi, a divorced mother of two who had left Kentucky for California in 1972 and had supported her children through various jobs including nursing, moved to the Nashville area in 1979 with her two daughters, Ashley— who later became a well-known Hollywood film actor—and Wynonna. Naomi and Wynonna entered the commercial music industry performing semi-regularly on Ralph Emery’s morning Nashville television show in the early 1980s. Following the success of their debut album and their first number-one hit, “Mama he’s Crazy” (...


Jungle Brothers  

Will Fulton

Rap group. Its members were Afrika Baby Bam (Nathanial Hall; b Brooklyn, NY), Mike Gee (Michael Small; b Harlem, NY), and, until 1997, DJ Sammy B (Samuel Burrell; b Harlem, NY). They were members of the Native Tongues, a collective of like-minded Afrocentric rappers that included De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, and Queen Latifah. Their early music was produced by DJ Red Alert, and they were affiliated with Afrika Bambaataa, from whom the rapper Afrika Baby Bam drew his pseudonym. After making “The Promo” (1988) for Red Alert’s WBLS radio show, the group recorded their first album, Straight out the Jungle (Warlock, 1988). The album represented a new style in hip-hop, with its mellow, Afrocentric lyrics, jazz samples, and moody textures; it was a critical influence in the development of “alternative rap” styles. It also featured the first hip-house recording, “I’ll House You.”

The group’s second album, ...



J.W. Junker

Rock group. Kalapana are Hawaii’s longest-active rock group, with loyal audiences in Hawaii and Japan. Their instrumentation and lyrics are not specific to Hawaii but their image and overall feeling effectively reflect the zeitgeist of island life. In many regards, the group represents Hawaii’s response to the singer-songwriter and R&B fads of the 1970s. Formed in 1973, Kalapana perform mostly original material full of catchy melodies, strong bass lines, well-crafted bridges, rock-inflected solos, and self-reflexive lyrics or instrumental jams. Founding members were D.J. Pratt (guitar/percussion/vocals), Malani Bilyeu (guitar/bass/vocals), Mackey Feary (guitar/piano/bass/vocals), and Kirk Thompson (keyboards, bass, vocals), joined frequently by Michael Paulo (sax/flute) and Alvin Fejarang (drums). Feary and Bilyeu served as the main songwriters and singers. Early shows at The Toppe Ada Shoppe led to their opening for Cecilio & Kapono and visiting artists. Their self-titled debut album in 1975 was a local sensation, including hits such as “The Hurt,” “Nightbird,” and “Naturally.”...



Gregor Tomc

Slovenian music group formed in 1980 in the mining town of Trbovlje in what was at the time multinational communist Yugoslavia. The band was strongly influenced by the persecution of punks by the police in the country. Their provocative political attitudes (their use of the German word, associated with the Nazi occupation of Ljubljana, as the name for their group; their use of quasi-military uniforms as part of their image; their use of totalitarian discourse in communication with the media; etc.) can be understood as a critique of the authoritarian regime. The dislike was mutual, as Laibach were banned from performing in Slovenia until they changed their name. Musically, Laibach started as an industrial group (influenced by groups like Throbbing Gristle). They became more eclectic with time. Influences were diverse – from electronic music groups like Kraftwerk, to new wave groups like Joy Division, with elements of avant garde classical music and disco. Laibach is a postmodern group, best known for recycling already existing musical works of other artists. They have made cover versions of songs by Opus, Europe, Queen, Beatles, Rolling Stones, Status Quo, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, Richard Wagner, among others. After more than three decades they still perform, though their line-up has changed often over the years....


Lilly Brothers, the.  

Joti Rockwell

American bluegrass duo. “Bea” or “B” Lilly (Mitchell Burt Lilly; b Clear Creek, WV, Dec 15, 1921; d Duxbury, MA, Sept 18, 2005) sang lead and played guitar, and Everett (Charles Everett; b Clear Creek, WV, 1 July 1924; d Clear Creek, WV, 8 May 2012) sang tenor and played mandolin. Together with banjoist Don Stover (b White Oak, WV, 6 March 1928; d Brandywine, MD, 11 Nov 1996), the Lilly Brothers played a principal role in disseminating bluegrass and old-time music in New England.

The Lilly Brothers were influenced by the traditional sacred and secular music of their childhood community as well as popular brother duets of the mid-1930s, including the Monroe Brothers, the Callahan Brothers, and the Blue Sky Boys. Honing their musically solid, assertive sound toward the end of the 1930s, they increased their exposure through radio appearances on WJLS in Beckley, West Virginia and WCHS in Charleston, West Virginia. After collaborations with Molly O’Day and Lynn Davis during the 1940s, the Lilly Brothers began appearing on the WWVA ...


Los Pleneros de la 21  

Melanie Maldonado

Plena and bomba group. Los Pleneros de la 21 (LP21) have the distinction of being the longest-running group to specialize in performing Puerto Rican Plena and Bomba in the continental United States. Since 1983, this New York City-based, intergenerational group has taken these traditional genres from their local New York community to the international stage. The group has produced five albums that both celebrate traditional AfroPuerto Rican music and fuse it with other genres of their urban soundscape. LP21 was founded in the South Bronx by National Heritage Fellow Juan Gutierrez-Rodriguez and contemporaries who included Edgardo Miranda and Eugenia Ramos. Other luminaries who contributed to the evolution of the Grammy-nominated group include famed plena musician (plenero) Marcial Reyes and the distinctive bomba musician (bombero) Roberto Cepeda, a member of one of Puerto Rico’s premier musical families. The members of LP21 are more than musicians and dancers; they are educators and cultural activists who invest their time into their local community by providing workshops for children and adults in the historic community of El Barrio in Manhattan. Today LP21 boasts a membership and group of alumni that includes some of the most well respected pleneros and bomberos in the United States and Puerto Rico....


Makaha Sons  

Jay W. Junker

Hawaiian instrumental and vocal group. Blending harmony vocals, acoustic instruments, and a relaxed, inclusive stage presence, the Makaha Sons have enjoyed great popularity since their first album, No Kristo, in 1976. It bore the inscription E Malama (Iana) Pono O Ka ‘Aina E Na ‘Opio (The traditions of the land are perpetuated by its youth), which has been translated by the group into a diverse repertoire of classic and newly composed Hawaiian-language songs, English-language songs about Hawaii, and even some humorous material performed with a great flair for comedy.

They began as teenagers in 1975 when Israel Kamakawiwo‘ole (‘ukulele/vocals) met Jerome “Boogie” Koko (guitar/vocals) on the beach at Makaha. Israel’s older brother Skippy (guitar/vocals) assumed leadership with Louis “Moon” Kauakahi (guitar/vocals) contributing arrangements and Sam Grey playing pakini (washtub) bass. Their original name was Makaha Sons of Ni‘ihau honoring the place they lived and the small island on which the Kamakawio‘oles had family roots. After several changes, the group solidified as a quartet with Skippy and Israel, their cousin Mel Amina, and brother-in-law Moon....



Greg Schelonka

Mexican pop-rock band. The group was formed in 1978 by Fher (José Fernando Olvera), Gustavo Orozco, Juan Diego Calleros, Ulises Calleros, and Abraham Calleros. Initially they were known as Sombrero Verde and released two albums. They added the Cuban-Colombian drummer Alex González and became Maná with their eponymous 1987 album, promoted as part of the Rock en tu Idioma (Rock in Your Language) movement. They did not achieve commercial success until 1991 with “Rayando el sol” (Scratching the Sun). They became a key part in the Rock en tu Idioma movement with their later success, primarily due to their commercial appeal. Their breakthrough came in 1992 with the release of ¿Dónde jugarán los niños? (Where would the kids play?). They have continued to have commercial success and have won four Latin Grammy Awards, despite criticism that their music lacks innovation and focuses on mass appeal. Their lyrics include political themes, such as a tribute to Brazilian environmental activist Chico Mendes in “Cuando los ángeles lloran” (When the Angels Cry). In ...



Mandy-Suzanne Wong

Electronic pop duo that performs, composes, records, and remixes experimental electronic music. Matmos comprises Drew Daniel and Martin C. Schmidt, whose earliest collaborations date from 1995. Originally based in San Francisco, where Schmidt managed the New Genres Department at the San Francisco Art Institute, Matmos moved in 2007 to Baltimore, where Daniel is Assistant Professor of English at Johns Hopkins University.

With its debut albums, Matmos (1997) and Quasi-Objects (1998), Matmos inaugurated its trademark aesthetic, configuring samples of unusual sound sources in compositions that straddle experimental electro-acoustic and electronic dance music. For example, in “Verber (Amplified Synapse)” (1997), the duo sampled and amplified the sounds of firing synapses in neural tissues of crayfish, adding other noise and a rock-based beat. Daniel and Schmidt make sure to identify their bizarre sound sources in liner notes and press releases, as they are interested in how this information affects the listening process. In performance, they “play” and sample their strange objects in real time, for instance walking rhythmically on rock salt, or touching the skin with a detector that produces sound when its electrical wires meet the body’s acupuncture points. Fascinated by the relationship between sound, electricity, and components of the human body, Matmos created one of its more notorious albums, ...