Ari Shapiro

When the artist Yolanda Quarterly, now better known as Yola, was just a bump in her mother's belly, she was already bopping to music. Yola's mother was a registered nurse, who used to DJ at a hospital's mental health unit. Disco and soul, sounds Yola would hear before entering the world, would go on to influence her later in life.

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It's been remarkable to watch singer-songwriter Joy Oladukun's professional success, despite the pandemic: Her music keeps showing up on popular scripted shows like Grey's Anatomy and This Is Us, leading to live performances on late night shows with Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Colbert — all without really leaving her base of Nashville, Tenn.

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More than 100 years ago, a poem by Katharine Lee Bates was put to music by Samuel Ward, and the resulting song has become one of the United States' most recognizable patriotic hymns, "America the Beautiful."

It's been a hot week full of court documents and news drops. And now, we're ready for a calmer and cooler break with time to breathe. And fortunately, we've got recommendations for podcasts, binge-able television and good reading for your holiday weekend.

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A sinking cargo ship off the coast of Sri Lanka is causing an environmental disaster for the country that looks set to have long-term effects.

The X-Press Pearl caught fire on May 20 and burned for two weeks, but the fire appears to have mostly burned out. The crew was evacuated. The ship is now partially sitting on the seabed with its front settling down slowly.

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An elephant's trunk is amazingly versatile, used for all types of things.

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You might not know it, but this...

(SOUNDBITE OF HAZARD LIGHTS BLINKING)

CHANG: ...Is the sound of a hotly debated issue in Florida.

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Updated May 26, 2021 at 6:14 PM ET

A growing number of European countries are blocking access to Belarusian airlines. The response comes after Belarus intercepted a commercial flight and removed and arrested Roman Protasevich, an opposition journalist who was on board.

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Simone Biles, already the most decorated gymnast in history, has surpassed expectations again. On Saturday, she performed a move considered so dangerous that no other woman has ever attempted it in competition.

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After a long, dark year, social muscles have atrophied. In-person gatherings now call for weighty questions about COVID-19 safety. And many people, who during the pandemic found relief in empty calendars, don't want to go back to the world as they knew it.

On the last episode of Play It Forward, our series in which artists tell us about their own music and the musicians who inspire them, All Things Considered spoke with Angel Bat Dawid, the improvisational musician from Chicago. She told us about her connection to the pioneer of funk: George Clinton.

The first time sociologist Mary de Young heard about QAnon, she thought: "Here we go again."

De Young spent her career studying moral panics — specifically, what became known as the "Satanic Panic" of the 1980s, when false accusations of the abuse of children in satanic rituals spread across the United States.

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Dawn Richard grew up in New Orleans. Her father sang in a funk band called Chocolate Milk. He still does.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FRICTION")

CHOCOLATE MILK: (Singing) Friction, baby.

SHAPIRO: As a kid, she was kind of alternative.

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Look. I wouldn't know what to do if a duck started nesting in a planter on my ninth floor balcony, but Steve Stuttard, an avid bird lover and retired Royal Navy specialist, was just the man for the job.

President Biden is pledging to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50-52% from 2005 levels by 2030.

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Just half a mile from the Minneapolis intersection where George Floyd died last summer, a small team of journalists covered the story as it evolved from neighborhood news to a global movement.

Now, the journalists of the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder are covering the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former officer who is on trial on charges of murder and manslaughter in George Floyd's death. The Spokesman-Recorder is a newspaper for Minnesota's Black community, by Minnesota's Black community.

In Morgan Jerkins' new novel Caul Baby, a family of Black women has a gift; they're born with a caul, a layer over their skin that protects them from harm. They can share the caul with others — and sell it "to the highest bidder" — which brings trouble. After all, "aren't all gifts double edged swords?" says Jerkins.

The family lives in Harlem, with a history stretching back to Louisiana. Although the story has fantastical elements, Jerkins used building blocks from her own family history to imagine these women into being.

On the last edition of Play It Forward, All Things Considered's chain of musical gratitude, Devonté Hynes – the English singer-songwriter, producer, director and genre-spanning creative force behind Blood Orange – spoke about experimental jazz artist Angel Bat Dawid's atmospheric track "London."

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