Bob Boilen

In 1988, a determined Bob Boilen started showing up on NPR's doorstep every day, looking for a way to contribute his skills in music and broadcasting to the network. His persistence paid off, and within a few weeks he was hired, on a temporary basis, to work for All Things Considered. Less than a year later, Boilen was directing the show and continued to do so for the next 18 years.

Significant listener interest in the music being played on All Things Considered, along with his and NPR's vast music collections, gave Boilen the idea to start All Songs Considered. "It was obvious to me that listeners of NPR were also lovers of music, but what also became obvious by 1999 was that the web was going to be the place to discover new music and that we wanted to be the premiere site for music discovery." The show launched in 2000, with Boilen as its host.

Before coming to NPR, Boilen found many ways to share his passion for music. From 1982 to 1986 he worked for Baltimore's Impossible Theater, where he held many posts, including composer, technician, and recording engineer. Boilen became part of music history in 1983 with the Impossible Theater production Whiz Bang, a History of Sound. In it, Boilen became one of the first composers to use audio sampling — in this case, sounds from nature and the industrial revolution. He was interviewed about Whiz Bang by Susan Stamberg on All Things Considered.

In 1985, the Washington City Paper voted Boilen 'Performance Artist of the Year.' An electronic musician, he received a grant from the Washington D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities to work on electronic music and performance.

After Impossible Theater, Boilen worked as a producer for a television station in Washington, D.C. He produced several projects, including a music video show. In 1997, he started producing an online show called Science Live for the Discovery Channel. He also put out two albums with his psychedelic band, Tiny Desk Unit, during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Boilen still composes and performs music and posts it for free on his website BobBoilen.info. He performs contradance music and has a podcast of contradance music that he produces with his son Julian.

Longtime NPR fans may remember another contribution Boilen made to NPR. He composed the original theme music for NPR's Talk of the Nation.

 

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6:56am

Thu October 4, 2012
Tiny Desk Concerts

Antibalas: Tiny Desk Concert

Originally published on Thu October 4, 2012 6:19 pm

Antibalas performs a Tiny Desk Concert on Sept. 25.
Ryan Smith NPR

There just aren't many bands like Antibalas. These are jazz players making dance music: Their music is big and fun, and their guiding spirit is Fela Kuti, the brilliant big-band leader and Nigerian Afrobeat pioneer. Afrobeat is a musical style featuring nearly endless songs, mixing funk and jazz, grooves and riffs, with the rhythm carried by not only the drums, but everyone. Everyone — horn players, bass players, guitarists — plays rhythm in Afrobeat music.

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3:24pm

Mon October 1, 2012
Tiny Desk Concerts

Kat Edmonson: Tiny Desk Concert

Originally published on Mon October 1, 2012 3:46 pm

Kat Edmonson performs a Tiny Desk Concert on Sept. 17, 2012.
Ryan Smith NPR

We first met Kat Edmonson nearly four years ago, when All Songs Considered put out a challenge to songwriters on the eve of Barack Obama's inauguration. We asked musicians around the country to capture the moment in song, and Edmonson, a native of Texas, wrote and sent us "Be the Change." It was clearly the best song we received, and she sang it with a unique voice and wonderful phrasing — so spot on.

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3:33pm

Mon June 25, 2012
Tiny Desk Concerts

Reggie Watts: Tiny Desk Concert

Originally published on Mon May 6, 2013 8:06 am

Mito Habe-Evans NPR

It's hard to pick a favorite Tiny Desk Concert from the hundreds we've done, but this could be the one. For me, music is best when it surprises, takes chances and makes me smile. Comedian and musician Reggie Watts performed three "songs" at the NPR Music offices, all of them spontaneous improvisations and all of them playful, even magical.

Watts came with a simple setup of loop pedals, delay pedals and a microphone. He laid down the beats and bass, entirely with his voice, and built up layers of sound, melody and rhythm — more like a magician than a musician.

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