Anastasia Tsioulcas

Anastasia Tsioulcas is a reporter for NPR Music. She covers breaking news in the music industry, as well as a wide range of musical genres and artists, for NPR's flagship news programs and NPR Music.

Tsioulcas is intensely interested in the arts at the intersection of culture, politics, economics, and identity. She covers #MeToo and gender issues in the music industry, as well as the effects of US immigration and travel policy on musicians and other performers traveling to this country.

She has reported from the funeral of Aretha Franklin, profiled musicians and dancers in contemporary Cuba, and brought listeners into the creative process of composers Steve Reich and Terry Riley.

Tsioulcas also produces episodes for NPR Music's much-lauded Tiny Desk concert series, and has hosted live concerts from venues like the Metropolitan Museum of Art and New York's (Le) Poisson Rouge. She has also commissioned and produced several world premieres on behalf of NPR Music, including a live event that brought together 350 musicians on the steps of the Brooklyn Public Library.

As a video producer, she has created high-profile video shorts for NPR Music, including performances by cellist Yo-Yo Ma in a Brooklyn theatrical props warehouse and pianist Yuja Wang in an icy-cold Steinway & Sons piano factory in Queens.

Tsioulcas has reported from across Europe, north and west Africa, south Asia, and Cuba for NPR and other outlets. Prior to joining NPR in 2011, she was widely published as a writer and critic on both classical and world music, and was the North America editor for Gramophone Magazine and the classical music columnist for Billboard.

Born in Boston, Tsioulcas was trained from an early age as a classical violinist and violist. She holds a B.A. from Barnard College, Columbia University in comparative religion.

R&B singer R. Kelly has again been charged by federal prosecutors in Illinois. Thursday's filing, which includes 13 charges, supersedes an indictment filed last July and accuses Kelly with sexually abusing another minor.

The minor added to Thursday's federal indictment in Illinois was about 14 years old when the abuse allegedly started in about 1997 and lasted for more than three years.

In court filings made public Thursday, Universal Music Group (UMG) disclosed specifics about some of the recordings lost or damaged in a 2008 vault fire. They include works by Nirvana, Elton John, Soundgarden and other artists.

A case that caused consternation and controversy in Chicago last year is entering a fresh chapter. On Tuesday afternoon, Jussie Smollett, a now-former actor on the show Empire, was again indicted by a grand jury in Cook County, Ill., for filing false police reports that he had been the victim of a hate crime near his home in January 2019.

Joseph Shabalala, the singer who created the South African choral group Ladysmith Black Mambazo and propelled it to worldwide fame, died Tuesday in Pretoria at age 78. The group became beloved globally as collaborators with Paul Simon on the album Graceland, and went on to win five Grammys.

Updated Friday, Feb. 7 at 5:00 p.m. ET

One of Mali's most prominent musicians, Ballaké Sissoko, has alleged that the Transportation Security Administration [TSA] destroyed his specially designed instrument during a trip from New York to Paris that began on Monday evening. On Thursday afternoon, the TSA said that its agents did not open the instrument case or create the damage.

By the end of the 62nd Grammy Awards on Sunday evening, a major star had been crowned: 18-year-old singer Billie Eilish, who swept all four of the night's biggest prizes — Best New Artist, Song of the Year, Record of the Year and Album of the Year — along with honors for Best Pop Vocal Album.

But that rush of awards came only at the tail end of a long, strange and emotionally ambivalent ceremony held Sunday night at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Suspended Recording Academy president and CEO Deborah Dugan, speaking at the 62nd Grammy Awards nomination event in New York in November.
John Lampa

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Deborah Dugan, the suspended head of the Recording Academy, made many stunning allegations in her discrimination complaint filed Tuesday with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Updated Wednesday, Jan. 22 at 12:50 p.m. ET

In the latest round of chaotic volleys around the Grammy Awards, the Recording Academy's short-lived president and CEO, Deborah Dugan — the organization's first female chief executive — announced Tuesday afternoon that she has filed a discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against the Academy, the organization that gives out the Grammys.

Updated at 9:20 p.m. ET

Neil Peart, the drummer and lyricist for the iconic Canadian prog rock band Rush, has died. He was 67 years old.

His death was announced Friday by spokesperson Elliot Mintz, who said that Peart died on Jan. 7 in Santa Monica, Calif. Peart had been diagnosed with brain cancer three and a half years ago.

Two years ago, the Grammy Awards faced a moment of reckoning after its then-leader, Neil Portnow, said that women had to "step up" in order to be recognized in the music industry. He's gone now. And the Recording Academy, the membership organization which gives out the Grammys, is trying to reinvent itself from top to bottom. It's under new, female leadership — and with the Grammy ceremony coming up on Jan.

Updated at 12:05 p.m. ET

The fast-rising rapper Juice WRLD has died at age 21 after a medical emergency at Chicago's Midway Airport. TMZ first reported the death, saying that witnesses saw him having a seizure after disembarking from a private plane.

The Cook County medical examiner's office confirmed his death to NPR, saying that the autopsy for Juice WRLD — whose real name was Jarad Anthony Higgins — will most likely take place on Monday.

One of opera's leading men, Italian tenor Vittorio Grigolo, was dismissed Thursday by two of the world's most prestigious houses: the Royal Opera in London and New York's Metropolitan Opera.

His firing comes after an investigation by the Royal Opera [RO], which determined that he had demonstrated "inappropriate and aggressive behavior" during an RO tour of Japan in September.

One of classical music's most beloved conductors has died: Latvian-born Mariss Jansons, who was age 76 at his death on Saturday in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Jansons had long had a heart condition, which first became known when he collapsed on the podium while conducting in Norway more than 20 years ago.

Peter Gelb has not enjoyed a particularly smooth tenure as the general manager at New York's Metropolitan Opera. But the company's board expressed its faith in him on Monday by extending his contract through 2027.

The agreement — which arrived a full two and a half years before Gelb's current contract expires — signals the board's strong commitment to Gelb, who earned some $2.17 million in combined pay and benefits during the company's last reported financial year.

Updated Tuesday at 5:20 p.m. ET

(Editor's note: This story contains graphic descriptions of sexual violence.)

Updated Friday at 3:30 p.m. ET

Back in August, it seemed as if the pop megastar Taylor Swift had found an end run around an acrimonious battle for control of her recorded catalog. She announced that beginning in November 2020, she would re-record the six albums made under contract for Big Machine Label Group, which owns those master recordings.

Pioneering British-born conductor, harpsichordist, composer and scholar Raymond Leppard has died. He was 92 years old. With full-bodied performances matched by pioneering scholarship, Leppard helped reintroduce audiences to 16th and 17th century Italian masterpieces by composers including Claudio Monteverdi. But Leppard was also very much a man of his time: He championed — and wrote — contemporary works for both stage and screen.

His death was announced by the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, where he was music director and conductor laureate from 1987 to 2001.

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