Music

An intercontinental ballistic missile takes flight from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, in 2002. In 1962, the United States would confront the Soviet Union on its missile stockpiles in Cuba, edging the two nations to the brink of nuclear war.

History of Now

'Do You Hear What I Hear?' Conjures Images of Peace Everywhere—and Nuclear Annihilation

Composed at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the classic Christmas song contains another message—one of unity

Brown was known as the Godfather of Soul and the Hardest Working Man in Show Business.

James Brown's Estate Has Sold After 15-Year Dispute

The estimated $90 million deal will go mostly toward a scholarship fund for children from South Carolina and Georgia

Bob Dylan, One Too Many, 2020

See Bob Dylan's Cinematic Paintings, Welded Sculptures and More

A comprehensive collection of the iconic songwriter's visual art is on display for the first time in the United States

"There isn't a Christmas that goes by that I don't sing 'Oh Holy Night,'" says Irma Thomas (above: in 2019 at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival) "If you listen to all the verses, it tells a beautiful story."

Irma Thomas' Rendition of 'O Holy Night' Is a Marvel From Beginning to End

Soulful Christmas music is an obsession for Bill Adler, so he interviewed the singer of one of his favorite songs

Swift's extended version of "All Too Well" surpassed the length of the previous record holder, Don McLean's 8-minute, 42-second "American Pie (Parts I and II)."

Trending Today

Taylor Swift Sets Record for Longest No. 1 Song, Beating Out 'American Pie' and the Beatles

The pop star's 10-minute, 13-second rerecording of "All Too Well" debuted at the top spot in Billboard's Hot 100 chart

Ary Scheffer, The Ghosts of Paolo and Francesca Appear to Dante and Virgil, 1835

Before Romeo and Juliet, Paolo and Francesca Were Literature's Star-Crossed Lovers

Centuries after Italian poet Dante published "The Divine Comedy," Romantic artists and writers reimagined the tragedy as a tale of female agency

Laurie Anderson’s singular artistic path has included books and movies, and an influential performance style whose loops, tapes and style has informed generations. 

The Multiple Arts and Artistries of the Inimitable Laurie Anderson

A Hirshhorn retrospective opens with ten new works from the pioneering artist, composer, poet and musician

Singer-songwriter and visual artist Solange has launched a free library of rare works by Black authors, available to borrow on a first-come, first-served basis.

Singer and Artist Solange Debuts Free Library of Rare Books by Black Authors

Readers in the U.S. can borrow 50 titles, including collections of poems by Gwendolyn Brooks and Langston Hughes and a sci-fi novel by Octavia Butler

Few epitomized 1970s cool like Richard Roundtree in Shaft.

'Shaft,' 'Super Fly' and the Birth of Blaxploitation

In this excerpt from ‘Music Is History,’ the drummer for the Roots and all-around music ambassador looks at a year when everything changed

Throughout the project, Beethoven’s genius loomed.

How Artificial Intelligence Completed Beethoven's Unfinished Tenth Symphony

On October 9, the work will be performed in Bonn, Germany, and a recording will be released

The 39-foot-long violin is made out of around 12 different kinds of wood.

Why a String Quartet Set Sail on a Giant Violin in Venice's Grand Canal

Local artist Livio De Marchi views the wooden replica as a symbol of the Italian city's rebirth following Covid-19

Breakup albums take listeners through the stages of a breakup much like the stages of grief—denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

The Heart-Wrenching History of the Breakup Album

From Joni Mitchell's 'Blue' to Olivia Rodrigo's 'Sour,' love and loss has an ever evolving soundtrack

A flag in New York City's Times Square marks MTV's 40th birthday.

At 40, MTV Is Officially Over the Hill

Born in 1981, the network soon grew to include reality TV and the VMAs. But nothing compares to its glory days of 24/7 music videos

Buildings in New Orleans' historic French Quarter, pictured here, sustained damage when Hurricane Ida made landfall on Sunday.

Hurricane Ida Destroys New Orleans Jazz Landmark Dubbed Louis Armstrong's 'Second Home'

The historic Karnofsky Tailor Shop and Residence collapsed on Sunday after water pooled on its roof

The Smithsonian Anthology of Hip Hop and Rap tracks the evolution of the genre from its music to its culture and to its people. "Everything that is part of hip-hop," says the Smithsonian's Dwandalyn Reece, curator of music and performing arts.

Chronicling Hip-Hop's 45-Year Ascendance as a Musical, Cultural and Social Phenom

The groundbreaking box set "Smithsonian Anthology of Hip-Hop and Rap" features 129 tracks, liner notes and an illustrated 300-page compendium

The worn hands and nubby fingernails of Bentonia, Mississippi, bluesman Jimmy "Duck" Holmes reflect his years of experience. Holmes is one of the last bluesmen who play a style known as Bentonia blues.

At an Old Juke Joint in Mississippi, the Blues Are Alive

Jimmy Holmes is the last in a line of music legends as he seeks to keep a singular American art form thriving

The choir performs at the ruins of a mill in Sweetwater Creek State Park in Douglas County, Georgia

Smithsonian Voices

Hear a Georgia Choral Group as They Rediscover the Art of Sacred Harp Singing

Students find lasting resonance in the words and simple notes of the 1869 hymn 'How Can I Keep from Singing?'

The Ifesowapo dùndún ensemble performing in Igbo Ora, southwest Nigeria

How Does the West African Talking Drum Accurately Mimic Human Speech?

A new study explores how the dùndún replicates tones and patterns of the Yorùbá language

B.B. King is among the performers featured in the documentary Summer of Soul.

The Story Behind the Harlem Cultural Festival Featured in 'Summer of Soul'

Jesse Jackson, Nina Simone, B.B. King and 100,000 spectators gathered for a concert worth remembering

An eight-foot-wide model of the intact monument was placed in an acoustics-testing chamber. Researchers found that sounds emanating from near the center reverberated within the structure.

What Did Stonehenge Sound Like?

Researchers have developed a new understanding of what it meant to be a member of the inner circle

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