Mountain ballads have been a part of American mountain culture since the earliest English and Scottish settlers moved there more than 200 years ago. They were passed down through the oral tradition, as they were in reporter Laurin Penland's family --but that tradition is close to extinct in the U.S.
When rock 'n' roll legend Chuck Berry navigated his music career, he didn't rely on agents or record labels; he drove himself to business meetings in his fleet of Cadillacs. Berry has just donated one of them, a red 1973 Eldorado, to the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
When Mary J. Blige first shook up the world of R&B with My Life, she sang about pain — about an abusive relationship, addiction and depression. Seventeen years later, My Life II is out, and its message has a different tune.
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