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World Cafe

Weeknights 7-9 p.m.

World Cafe launched in 1991. Distributed by NPR to more than 200 U.S. radio stations and heard by nearly 600,000 listeners each week, World Cafe is known by artists, appreciative audiences, and the radio and music industries as an influential source for music discovery.

The two-hour daily program features a mix of artist interviews with in-studio performances by both established and emerging artists. The music selection encompasses singer-songwriters, classic rock, indie rock, Americana, alt-country, blues, world music, R&B and soul. As the nation’s most listened-to public radio music program, its impact on the careers and audience awareness of thousands of artists is immeasurable.

Ways to Connect

Outlaw country is kind of tricky to define. It's a subgenre that really picked up steam back in the 1970s when artists like Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson wanted to go in a different direction from the polished mainstream country world.

All around the country, NPR member stations are not only a vital source of news but music, arts and culture, too. We are grateful that music stations never stopped providing their unique blend of programming for listeners during this ongoing pandemic. They also provided critical support for their local music economies.

We usually ask our stations to pick songs that are in heavy rotation on their broadcast logs for this series. But given that we're halfway through 2020, we wanted to know our station's favorite songs of the year so far.

Sweet Crude, a six-piece band from New Orleans, combines English and Louisiana French, a dialect that has evolved over hundreds of years, mostly in southern Louisiana. The band's percussive sound is the result of classical training and youthful enthusiasm.

Meg Remy's musical roots are in the DIY punk world, and when she first started making music as U.S. Girls more than a decade ago, she played everything herself. But over time, the sound and lineup of evolved. The new U.S. Girls album, Heavy Light, features up to 20 musicians recording in the studio at the same time.

The sounds of Los Angeles band Triangle Fire may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the term "Latin music." But KCSN's The Latin Alt program director Byron Gonzalez defines Latin Alternative as "nothing from the mainstream."

World Cafe has been on the air for almost 30 years. Thirty years of conversations and sessions from all kinds of artists — from big, huge artists to new artists who would eventually go on to become big, huge artists. John Mayer falls into that last category.

Update 5/29 2 p.m. ET: The archive of the Premiere event is temporarily available below.

The Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright has announced the premiere of Unmaking Unfollow The Rules, a behind-the-scenes documentary chronicling the extraordinary creation of his new album, Unfollow The Rules, his first in eight years.

Today we're sharing an incredible story that Mikel Jollett, the lead singer of The Airborne Toxic Event, has chronicled both in the written word and in song. Jollett had a pretty dramatic childhood: He was born into a cult called Synanon and had to go on the run with biological mother.

Congregating in person for concerts is out of the question this spring and for the foreseeable future, so music fans have gotten used to watching performers livestream from home. What's less obvious is that segments of the Nashville music community that work out of view have been equally resourceful in finding virtual stopgaps during lockdown.

If you've watched any livestreamed shows or concerts during self-isolation or done any video chatting at all, you know that there can be challenges: when someone's stuck on mute, or there's a bad connection, or there are awkward pauses, or if people talk over each other.

Each month, NPR member stations share the tunes that they can't get enough of. In spite of the uncertainties that plague the world outside, April brought us "Shameika," a new Real Estate track that features Sylvan Esso's Amelia Meath, the latest from virtuosic nu-jazz collaborators Tom Misch and Yussef Dayes, a stunning Nirvana cover from Amber Mark and more.

All songs from this month's Heavy Rotation are available to stream on the Spotify playlist at the bottom of this page.


You might not be able to pack your bag, get on an airplane and jet off to some new exciting place right now, but don't worry, you can still travel and explore here with World Cafe Sense of Place. In this series, we take you deep into one city's music scene, and today, we're kicking off our sessions from Los Angeles, with more to come every Friday in May.

Steve Earle knows how to tell a story. Talking to him is a whirlwind of names and places, moments that changed him, songs that moved him, lots of laughs, sharp observations and little bits of wisdom. He's someone who knows the value of storytelling as a way to find our shared humanity.

While Nashville's standard studio music-making processes remain at a quarantined standstill, here's another roundup of compelling new and recent music from visitors, part-timers, newcomers and lifers alike.


Lately — and maybe you've felt like this too — the passage of time feels weird. Whether you're working every day or you're stuck at home (or both), with our regular routines interrupted, it's hard to know sometimes what day it is. So, every so often we're doing away with the idea of time altogether here on World Cafe and taking you back into the archives to bring you Classic World Cafe sessions.

In 2019, singer-songwriter Anthony D'Amato spent a month living in New Orleans and made an EP called Five Songs From New Orleans. He recorded it in the 19th century house he was living in with some local musicians and acoustic instruments.

Today has been officially declared Public Radio Music Day across the country. It's a day to celebrate public radio, music and the people who love and support it. We're proud to be a part of the longstanding public radio tradition of helping you discover new artists, supporting the weird and wonderful and diving deep into the artists you love while going off the beaten musical path — and, as we discovered while doing some crate digging here at World Cafe, it's a love that goes both ways.

Thursday, April 16 has been officially declared Public Radio Music Day to celebrate the role that non-commercial music stations play in the lives of both artists and listeners. Here at World Cafe, we've decided to have some fun by filling the entire two hours of our radio broadcast with songs that mention the radio.

Sometimes, even when you think you have everything perfectly planned out, life can be unpredictable. New Orleans artist Maggie Koerner wasn't looking for a career in music; in fact, she was on her way to getting her master's in child psychology.

A couple years ago, Caroline Rose made a big impression with the release of her third album, Loner. It was a big departure for her: Up until then she'd usually been categorized as a folk artist, but Loner was a foray into power pop, punk, and electronic music. It was hailed by critics as her best work yet.

Growing up, my parents would make the drive from Chicago to my grandmother's house in Waukon, Iowa (population: just over 3,000) for visit. While in town, I distinctly remember the only sounds we'd hear in that tiny house: The only radio station played all classic country, all day long.

Since new release season is rolling on while the Nashville music community and the rest of us remain holed up at home, here's another round-up of music that shouldn't be missed.


Every month, we ask radio stations around the country one critical question: What's the one song you can't stop listening to? March's lineup brings you a comeback track from The Strokes, a jazz-tinged rendition of "Jolene," a new tune from the ever-innovative Thundercat and more.

All songs from this month's Heavy Rotation are available to stream on Apple Music and the Spotify playlist at the bottom of this page.

A few months ago, World Cafe went to Virginia for our Sense of Place series. Last month, you may have heard us explore Charlottesville, and starting this week, we bring you stories we collected during our trip to Richmond.

Stuck at home? Self-isolating? Quarantined? Feeling a bit (or extremely) anxious about this whole situation? Same. These days, I'm hosting World Cafe from a small apartment in Toronto. I haven't been outside in days, and I know I'm not alone.

So I made a playlist about all those feelings. On it, you'll find songs about isolation: about being alone and not leaving the house. There are songs about wondering what it's like outside now, and wondering what it will be like outside when this is over. And finally, there are songs about what to do to pass the time.

The fact that Nashville's famously bustling live music scene has temporarily gone silent — first partially interrupted by the March 3 tornadoes, then halted altogether in response to COVID-19 — makes this an opportune time to catch up with the loosies, EPs and albums that either went overlooked in the crowd of early 2020 releases or won't be getting signal boosts from now-canceled promotional performances.

Think back to who you were a decade ago. What was that person like? What do you do differently now? And would you ever want to be that version of yourself again?

In this session, we're joined by Soccer Mommy – that's the performing name of artist Sophie Allison. Despite her youthfulness, when you talk to Allison, it's immediately clear that she's an artist who is in control. Allison has a keen understanding of how music works – not just the technical intricacies, but how it all fits together, too. And above all else, she's unafraid to share her very personal vision.

Aubrie Sellers has always been surrounded by music. She grew up in Nashville, the daughter of two famed country artists: Lee Ann Womack and Jason Sellers. But Sellers isn't looking to cash in on that pedigree or rest on family reputation. Instead she's forging her own way by finding her voice.

The first time I heard Katie Pruitt's song "Loving Her," I was taken aback by the very first line you hear: "If loving her's a sin, I don't want to go to heaven." That's a powerful declaration from a singer-songwriter. It's especially powerful coming from a gay artist raised in the South without much precedent and with very few role models to follow.

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