Filed Under:

Thao Nguyen's Musical Life Is Far From 'Common'

Play associated audio

Thao Nguyen, of the folk-rock group Thao & the Get Down Stay Down, has been on a musical journey since she started performing in her teens in Northern Virginia. Delicate yet fierce in her vocal delivery, she writes often about her social concerns — and it was a trip to a California women's prison that inspired much of her latest album, We the Common.

Ngyuen and her band are on the road for the first time in several years; she spoke with NPR's Jacki Lyden from a tour stop in Kansas City.


Interview Highlights

On her mother's support for her music

"My mom ran a laundromat when I was growing up, and I would work there after school and on the weekends and play guitar while I was making change and folding laundry. ... My mom's been incredible. She was the one to give up her minivan for our first tour, which we promptly totaled in Chicago. And the only thing she said when she found out was, 'Well, I have to fly you to your next show.' "

On the sacrifice of touring

"I spent the majority of my 20s on the road. It has, of course, really amazing merits, and then also some real solid downsides. I wasn't really around a lot, and if I was, it was for two days and I'd be gone again. ... A lot of this record is about revival, and wanting to be part of your own life, and considering how you could be better."

On the song "We the Common (For Valerie Bolden)"

"Valerie Bolden was one of the first women I met inside the prison, and Valerie is serving a life sentence without parole. She has a great sense of humor, so there's this lighthearted back-and-forth, and then it would be punctuated with these real poignant moments where she spoke of her daughters, who she hadn't seen in 12 years."

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

At 81, Disney's First African-American Animator Is Still In The Studio

First hired in the 1950s, Floyd Norman is still drawing. "Creative people don't hang it up," he says. "We don't walk away, we don't want to sit in a lawn chair. ... We want to continue to work. "
NPR

America's Real Mountain Of Cheese Is On Our Plates

To help dairy farmers hurt by a glut, the USDA said this week it'll buy $20 million worth of cheese and give it to food banks. But we eat so much of the stuff, that's hardly a drop in the bucket.
WAMU 88.5

Friday News Roundup - International

Italy searches for survivors after a devastating earthquake. Turkey escalates its role in the fight against ISIS. And Colombia and the FARC rebels sign a peace treaty ending a half-century-long guerrilla war. A panel of journalists joins guest host Derek McGinty for analysis of the week's top international news stories.

NPR

WhatsApp Will Start Sharing Data, Including Phone Numbers, With Facebook

It will also test new ways for businesses to communicate with users on the app. The privacy policy changes mark the long-expected move by Facebook to begin making money from the free app.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.