Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Soprano Renée Fleming

Renée Fleming

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Photo: Jemal Countess/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions

"America's Diva," Soprano Renée Fleming on acting in musical theater

Known as "America's Diva," Renée Fleming has performed in venues all over the world, singing in acclaimed productions of operas composed by Mozart, Puccini, Verdi, Dvorak and more. If you're no expert in the world of cabelettas, cavatinas and coloraturas, fear not! Renée has mastered jazz, country and just about every other music genre as well.

She grew up in a musical household, the child of two music teachers and she knew from a rather early age that music was her destiny. As a teen, she took chorus classes and music theory. A few years later she attended college at the Crane School of Music at the State University of New York at Postdam. There, she joined a jazz trio. An invitation was extended for her to go on tour with the band but she had other dreams in mind.

She was awarded a Fulbright scholarship and attended graduate school at Julliard while performing professionally in the 1980s. Since then, she's performed with the New York City Opera in La bohème, with the Royal Opera in London in Cherubini's Médée and with the Metropolitan Opera and San Francisco Opera alike as Countess Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro. She's appeared on popular movie soundtracks including The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King and The Shape of Water.

She's also performed under truly unique circumstances like singing the National Anthem at the 2014 Super Bowl while 50 million people watched from home and Black Hawk helicopters flew overhead! There was also her performance at President Barack Obama's 2009 inauguration. It was...amazing!

Lately, she's been working on stage in musicals. Her latest, The Light in the Piazza just wrapped up in Los Angeles, with productions in Chicago and Sydney on the horizon.

Renée talk to Bullseye about managing acoustics, growing up in a musical home and not only cultivating her talent but her image, too. Plus, she gives Jesse some pretty solid music advice. What an episode!

Renée sings the music of Brahms, Schumann and Mahler. You can listen to the album here.

Click here to listen to Renée Fleming's interview on YouTube!

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Neko Case & Herb Alpert

Neko Case
Herb Alpert

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.

Photo credit: Katie Stratton/Getty Images

Neko Case on Self Determination, Loss, and Life on the Farm

Neko Case has been producing exceptional music as a solo artist as well as a collaborator with the indie-rock band, The New Pornographers. Her work has not only revolved around rock, but also the genre of country music.

Case recently released a retrospective vinyl box set, Truckdriver, Gladiator, Mule which collects her music from throughout her career, including some out-of-print and hard to find titles.

Neko Case sat down with Jesse, and told us why she cringed when listening to one of her early songs, how the loss of her parents shaped her personally and creatively, and how living on a farm in Vermont improves her life as artist.

Truckdriver, Gladiator, Mule is available now.

Photo credit: Michael Buckner/Getty Images

Herb Alpert on Discovering, Losing and Redisovering His Musical Voice

Herb Alpert is most famous for the music he created with his band, Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. The title song of his first album, The Lonely Bull was not only a hit, but was the first album released by A&M Records, which he co-founded with his partner Jerry Moss.

His musical career has spanned over 5 decades and his roles have included him serving not only as a musician, but also a producer. His work with artists have included collaborations with The Carpenters, Liza Minnelli and Janet Jackson. He has also earned numerous awards including 9 Grammys, a Tony and an 2012 National Medal of Arts award.

Herb Alpert joined Bullseye to talk about his brief career as a film actor, how difficult emotional times helped him to become a better musician and how insecurity can persist even when an artist knows he or she is creating something special.

Herb Alpert's most recent album Come Fly With Me is available now.

photo credit: Slavin Vlasic/Getty Images Entertainment

The Outshot: Danny Hoch’s Jails, Hospitals & Hip-Hop

Danny Hoch's Jails, Hospitals and Hip-Hop began as a one-man-show which explored the multi-cultural and multi-lingual world of New York during the rise of hip-hop culture. A version of his play was released as a film in 2000.

The Avett Brothers: Head Full Of Doubt / Road Full of Promise


When we were at the Calgary Folk Festival last year, we had the chance to catch the Avett Brothers' show. It was energetic, beautiful and dynamic. One of the best shows I've ever been to. Wish we'd been able to book them on the show, but they were in and out of town in a flash.

All Killer, no filler.


Jerry Lee Lewis - Whole Lotta Shakin' (1957)

What's Made Milwaukee Famous (Has Made A Loser Out Of Me)

She Even Woke Me Up To Say Goodbye, (1983)

Corb Lund, Country Singer-Songwriter: Interview on The Sound of Young America

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Corb Lund

The Sound of Young America was in Alberta, Canada for the Calgary Folk Music Festival, four days of performances and workshops from folk, indie, rock, country, and blues musicians. Here’s the first of our interviews and live performances from the festival, with Alberta’s homegrown country singer-songwriter, Corb Lund.

Corb Lund is a musician and third-generation rancher from Alberta, Canada. He played for over ten years as part of punk band The Smalls, and now brings some of that irreverence to writing roots-country music about his own experiences and those of his ancestors on the Canadian prairies.

Lund has received the Canadian Country Music Association's Roots Artist of the Year for six years running, and also been honored by the Canadian Independent Music Awards and the JUNO awards.

You can find him singing stories of rodeos, gamblers, and the Canadian West on Losin' Lately Gambler, his latest album.

The AV Club on The Sound of Young America: March 2010

Tasha Robinson
Keith Phipps

Keith Phipps and Tasha Robinson of The AV Club join us once again to recommend some of the best in pop culture.

Keith says to check out the 1930s version of Alice In Wonderland, featuring Gary Cooper, Cary Grant and WC Fields. He also recommends the new Johnny Cash record, American VI: Ain't No Grave.

Tasha says to check out the touring show of the Oscar-nominated short films, and an amazing choose-your-own-adventure graphic novel called Meanwhile.

Loudon Wainwright III Interview on The Sound of Young America

Loudon Wainwright III

Loudon Wainwright III is an accomplished singer-songwriter, an occasional actor, and the scion of a musical family. Three of his children - Martha Wainwright, Rufus Wainwright and Lucy Wainwright Roche are professional musicians.

Loudon Wainwright's career began in the 1960s, and he's earned a passionately devoted following over the past 40 years. Among those fans is Judd Apatow, who's cast Wainwright in several projects, including Undeclared and Knocked Up (for which he also wrote the soundtrack). His new album, High Wide & Handsome: The Charlie Poole Project, is a tribute to early country music legend Charlie Poole, featuring both covers of songs Poole made famous and original music inspired by Poole.

Johnny Paycheck - (Don't Take Her) She's All I've Got


A smash hit, written by Jerry Williams Jr.


The Killer: Not Dead Yet


Above: Jerry Lee Lewis plays "Whole Lotta Shakin" and "Chantilly Lace" on the BBC in 1972. Below, he rocks Shakin' in 1957:

Jerry Lee is releasing his first country album in years, and it's largely written by Kris Kristofferson. You can hear the first single, "Mean Old Man," on the splash page of Lewis' website, and it's kickass (despite the lack of piano).

Lewis is, after all, the Boogie Woogie Country Man.

By the way -- if you've never heard this album, Jerry Lee Lewis Live at the Star Club, Hamburg, you owe it to yourself to buy a copy. Because it is kick-ass.

George Jones "The Race Is On"


Part of Jesse's Country Music Self-Improvement Project.

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