Vince Pearson

The pandemic, a bad economy, police killings and a fight for racial equality: It's a lot of take in. For some, music has been a way to cope and try to make sense of it all and that is the premise behind the Morning Edition Song Project, in which we asked musicians to write and perform an original song about this moment.

First, a pandemic, then economic collapse and now there are mass demonstrations over police brutality and racism.

In times of upheaval like this, music can be an escape. Maybe a way to reflect or try to make sense of things. This is what led to a new series we're launching today. For the Morning Edition Song Project, we've been asking musicians to write and perform an original song for us.

The Clark Sisters — Jackie, Dorinda, Denise, Twinkie and Karen — were one of the most important gospel groups of the 20th century. The sisters grew up in Detroit and learned to sing from their mother, Mattie Moss Clark, a renowned gospel singer in her own right. With her help, the Clark Sisters went on to win three Grammy awards and become the top-selling female gospel group of all time. Simply put, they changed the sound of modern gospel music.

Neil Young has easily one of the most recognizable names in American music, and his familiar voice isn't getting quieter with time. He has played with a lot of people over the years: There was Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. But Crazy Horse has outlasted all of them.

After nearly 50 years, KISS is saying goodbye to touring. The over-the-top purveyors of heavy metal have embarked on a year-long finale tour titled "One Last KISS: End of the Road World Tour." The 105-stop tour spans North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand and will encapsulate KISS' larger-than-life show for the last time.

Sixty years ago, this month, Miles Davis finished recording Kind of Blue, perhaps his greatest masterpiece and still jazz's bestselling album. But it was not the only milestone recorded that year.

From 1991 to 1994, Nirvana was one of the biggest bands in the world with a look and sound that would come to define the decade's music. At the height of this fame, though, bandleader Kurt Cobain sometimes seemed to be an unwilling participant who had just been swept up and carried away by Nirvana's success. Then, after less than four years of meteoric fame, Cobain died of suicide on April 5, 1994. He was 27.

No composition seems too difficult for pianist Lang Lang. But on his latest solo record, Piano Book, the 36-year-old known for his finger-twisting virtuosity is exploring something simpler: Beethoven's "Fur Elise," Debussy's "Clair de Lune" and other pieces that accompanied him in the first few years of a lifelong love-affair with the instrument.

This story is part of American Anthem, a yearlong series on songs that rouse, unite, celebrate and call to action. Find more at NPR.org/Anthem.

It's interesting to read how the members of Beastie Boys came to know each other as teenagers and create the trio's sound. But if the new music memoir Beastie Boys Book aims to answer anything, it's this: Have the Beastie Boys grown up? The answer is sort of.

Ever since he was a kid, Ketch Secor was obsessed with old-time country music. In fact, he made a career of it by leading the string band Old Crow Medicine Show. Appalachia, the birthplace of the band, has served as a wellspring of knowledge for Secor, and even inspired the musician to write a new children's book, Lorraine.

"That's where this story comes from," Secor says. "This is an Appalachian folktale, with a couple of personal twists."

Tuesday, Oct. 2, marks the one-year anniversary of Tom Petty's death. Members of the prolific musician's family and longtime band have spent much of the past year listening to his early and unreleased recordings. Wanting to mark the occasion, Dana Petty, wife of the late musician, and Benmont Tench, Petty's longtime keyboardist, started combing through the rock star's vault.

Growing up, Joan Marie Larkin had big dreams. She considered becoming an archaeologist or an astronaut, and she wasn't going to let society tell her what a girl could or couldn't do. She eventually turned to music and went on to be one of the most celebrated women in rock: Joan Jett. Bad Reputation, a new documentary out now, traces her hard-fought rise to rock and roll fame.