Ned Wharton

Imagine being able to lay down your burdens and fly away from Earth — to a place of harmony, where discrimination is left behind. That dream is the basis of the song "Blackstronauts" by Britton & The Sting, a standout entry in this year's Tiny Desk Contest. Britton Smith, who wrote the song, tells Weekend Edition he wrote "Blackstronauts" while thinking about one particular burden: the need for affirmation.

This year, many people have been turning to music for catharsis, but Mama Haze, aka songwriter Meaghan Maples, has been tapping into music's healing powers for a long time. Before pursuing music full-time, the Oakland, Calif.-based artist was a doula and caregiver, often prescribing music as an antidote to patients' pain.

Kathleen Edwards had devoted fans and a successful career, with hits on the Billboard Top 40 charts and songwriting awards. But after her last album in 2012, she walked away from the music business. In fact, she opened a cafe in the suburbs of Ottawa, Canada, called Quitters Coffee.

James Taylor has been a household name for a long time now. Taylor was just 20-years-old when he released his self-titled debut in 1968; in the half century since then, he has sold over 100 million albums and cemented his status as one of the most successful American singer-songwriters.

Afrobeat will probably always be associated with one man, one time and one country — Fela Kuti, in late 1960s Nigeria. But for the past 20 years, Antibalas has been establishing Brooklyn, N.Y., as a new center of the Afrobeat universe. The band's seventh studio album was just released and it has a name that calls back to its martial arts origins: Fu Chronicles.

Drive-By Truckers' latest album, The Unraveling, is out this week, and it is the group's most political work to date, confronting some of America's most charged issues: church shootings, opioids, overdoses, racial violence and extremism.

Massive anti-government protests in Chile over the past few weeks have united demonstrators in song. Last week, up to a million people protesting in Santiago were joined by a cavalry of guitarists. They played a song called "El Derecho de Vivir en Paz," which once stood as an anthem for resistance against the brutal regime of Augusto Pinochet that began in 1973.

You might say Making Movies is a band of brothers. The Kansas City-based group is made up of two Panamanian-Americans — guitarist Enrique Chi and his brother, bassist Diego Chi — and two Mexican-Americans; drummer Andres Chaurand and his brother Juan-Carlos, who plays percussion and keyboards.

For the past three decades, Dervish has been at the forefront of reinventing traditional Irish folk songs. The Sligo-based band is "breathing new life" into the beloved music of its homeland with The Great Irish Songbook, an album pulling from an eclectic range of genres and the voices of over a dozen featured artists.

The musical leg of SXSW 2019 has taken over Austin, Texas, once again and Alt.Latino's Felix Contreras has been standing amidst the food stands, venues and musical equipment cases to check out all the best Latin talent making noise.

"South by Southwest is becoming more important for Latin music every year," Contreras says. "More and more bands from Latin America, Spain and the U.S are coming here. I've been coming for 10 years and I used to be able to see most of the bands I needed. Now, its impossible."

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

The daylight is dwindling away. The solstice arrives on Friday. So let's listen to some warming songs from Eastern Europe that celebrate the season upon us.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MOMCI KOLEDARCI")

KITKA WOMEN'S VOCAL ENSEMBLE: (Singing in Bulgarian).

It all started with a tweet from Phil Collins.

In a now-viral post from earlier this month, the musician suggested people cue up his song "In the Air Tonight" so the iconic drum fill rings out at midnight on New Year's Eve.

In true 2017 fashion, the tweet lead to a meme, and the Twitterverse lit up with other ideas for climactic musical moments to ring in the new year.

It's hard to imagine an artist more steeped in the culture of New Orleans than Troy Andrews, better known as Trombone Shorty. Andrews grew up in the Tremé, a neighborhood that's become practically synonymous with brass-band music. At age 4, he marched in the street with his brother's band; by 13, he was playing in the New Birth Brass Band. He's also donated instruments and founded the Trombone Shorty Foundation to help pass along New Orleans' musical culture to a new generation.