It was 30 years ago today that a single American hostage was killed by terrorists during the hijacking of a cruise ship by pro-Palestinian terrorists in the Mediterranean Sea. Leon Klinghoffer's death was the inspiration for a controversial opera, The Death of Klinghoffer, composed by John Adams, with a libretto by Alice Goodman and directed by Peter Sellars.

Laura Wilson / courtesy of the artist

When asked about his early experiences with the violin, Josh Ritter doesn't mince words.

"Oh I was terrible at it," he said. "It was awful."

The singer-songwriter stuck with the instrument for 13, very long, years and a very patient violin teacher. Eventually he discovered another stringed instrument – the guitar. But even now as a bona fide rock star, Ritter still has a soft spot for his days in the orchestra pit.

In an interview with NPR's David Greene, Chrissie Hynde discusses her new memoir, Reckless: My Life as a Pretender. The interview touches on portions of the book that have generated some controversy, including Hynde's description of a possible sexual assault.

Before there was Madonna or Lady Gaga, there was Grace Jones.

The creator of that gender-bending, hypersexual persona has been a supermodel, a muse for artists like Andy Warhol and Keith Haring, and a musician whose influence is still felt throughout popular music to this day. Now, she's telling her story in a memoir titled I'll Never Write My Memoirs, which shines a spotlight on every side of her — including Beverly Grace Jones ("Bev"), the more reserved childhood version of the future star.

The New England folk band Darlingside, which was recently featured in World Cafe's preview of this year's Americana Music Festival, evolved from a larger group that formed when its members attended Williams College in Massachusetts.

In 2012, Greek pop singer Monika — who is famous enough back home to be known by one name — experienced an accident that changed her life. She was on a boat with four friends when things suddenly went wrong.

"Our boat was on fire. There was an explosion because of a gas leak," she explains. "Three people couldn't swim that well, so they stayed behind and were rescued by a sailing boat, but me and my friend, we reached the coast. ... I was swimming in the sea for seven and a half hours — and at night, with huge waves."

Stephen Sondheim is widely viewed as the greatest living composer in American musical theater. "Send in the Clowns," from the show A Little Night Music, may be his most famous work — and yet you might not recognize the song as reimagined for solo piano by Ethan Iverson of the band The Bad Plus.