IPR Music

Reed George / Flickr

This is Holy Week, the most meaningful time of the year for Christians. Whether you are a religious believer or not, the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection is part of our culture and has been reflected in many ways in music, art, and literature through the centuries. 

Meg Vogel / NPR

The deadline to enter the NPR Tiny Desk Contest is April 27.  As of April 9, more than 30 Iowa artists have submitted entries!  A variety of styles and approaches are apparent from this year's crop of homegrown musicians.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

The story of the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt is common to both Jewish and Christian traditions. It is found in what Jews call the Torah and what Christians call the Old Testament. Whether you are a religious believer or not, this story is an important part of our culture and has been reflected in diverse ways in folk song and custom over the centuries.

Mark Zaleski / AP Photo

As you've probably heard, singer-songwriter John Prine passed away Tuesday, after being critically ill with COVID-19.

Since his first album was released in 1971, Prine's gentle humor and way with words have been an inspiration to many. Some members of IPR's staff each picked a favorite John Prine song to share.

David Beale / Unsplash

With concert-giving on hiatus, here's another sampling of the rich variety of choral music in our state.

This week's batch of videos includes a motet from Shakespeare's day that offers reassurance, a new work by a Des Moines composer that affirms simple love, and a song by a Des Moines gospel choir that reminds us to listen for the voices of those in need.

Matt Alvarez / IPR

A "special edition" of the annual Iowa City festival focusing on music and literature has been announced for September 17-19.

Ralph Homan / Flickr

Musicians, just like everybody else, are staying home as much as possible these days. Fortunately, because of modern technology and the internet, we can still hear new music from them. The following is a selection of five songs that have been recorded and shared since the COVID-19 outbreak began. Some are newly written in response to the pandemic. All are by midwesterners, some of whom live or used to live right here in Iowa.

Duane Tinkey / Facebook

If you stuck at home looking for something new and different to explore, this weekend would be the perfect time to take the plunge into the opera world.

Alexey Ruban / Unsplash

Like virtually everything else, the music business is being shaken up by the current pandemic. 

Iowa Public Radio’s Studio One is part of the non-commercial radio world, which is an interconnected system of stations, promoters and record labels, and the music you hear on shows like “Studio One Tracks” has not been spared from the slow down we’re all feeling.

Jonathan Tichler / Met Opera / Facebook

With an American opera house of international caliber, why miss the opportunity to see and hear the world’s best performances from the Metropolitan Opera?


Due to the spread of the novel coronavirus, the MET is offering a handful of operas for free through their "Nightly Opera Stream" series. They are also streaming much of their catalog for free if you sign up for a seven day trial of the MET's "on demand" platform or for a $4.99 rental per work. 


Here are a few recommendations not to miss from IPR's Jacqueline Halbloom. 

Madeleine King / IPR File

The coronavirus outbreak has been devastating for live music. Nationally-touring bands and local musicians alike have canceled shows, which are a primary source of income for artists and others who make their living from live performances. In these trying times, there are still ways to support your favorite musicians. 

Roberta / Flickr

COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, has disrupted everything. IPR's Karen Impola, who hosts the Folk Tree, says she finds music a big source of comfort and has some recommendations.

Credit Wartburg College, Wartburg Choir

Choral groups around our state have canceled or postponed concerts until it’s safe to congregate. Instead of “Big Lists Of Choral Events,” we're going to start sharing videos of some of our favorite choral performances from around Iowa. 

Gerry Hardy / Flickr

Songwriters will write songs about what inspires them, and often they (like us) are inspired by other musicians and songwriters.  

Omar Prestwich

There’s a flood of news regarding the spread of the novel coronavirus across the state and across the country. It’s important to take a step back, even if just for a moment, to think about something else.

Here are five videos from Iowa artists who have recently played in our studio or have joined us for Studio One Underground, our live concert series at xBk in Des Moines, that we hope offer you some respite. 

Des Moines Symphony / Facebook

Events and public gatherings of all kinds are being canceled in order to help slow the spread of COVID-19 across the state of Iowa. If you have tickets to a show or event in the coming month, we recommend checking in with the hosting organization to ensure it’s not been canceled or postponed.

@thefordly / Facebook

If music is an expression of the human condition, music videos are the visualization. Lily DeTaeye’s new music video “Tusk” is a fierce example.

Since the release of DeTaeye’s album BiTe Back, she has been singing about what it means to be a woman in today’s political landscape. Her just-released video “Tusk” is a challenge to men who believe they deserve to be ever dominant. 

Roberta / Flickr, https://tinyurl.com/va6q5pn

Codfish Hollow has cancelled the last indoor show of the season following news about cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, in Iowa.

Venue owner Tiffany Biehl is monitoring information being provided by the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) closely and is prepared to cancel shows, and potentially the entire season, if that’s what experts recommend.

Meg Vogel / NPR

The 2020 Tiny Desk Contest is underway, and it represents a potentially life-changing opportunity for unsigned musicians across the country.

For NPR Music's Bob Boilen, the host and producer of the Tiny Desk Concerts, it's also an opportunity to discover talented artists who otherwise might remain undiscovered. 

Matthew Alvarez / IPR

The Mission Creek Festival is right around the corner. As usual, a diverse and talented selection of artists will be appearing at this annual festival focusing on music and literature April 1-4 in Iowa City. 

Penny Peach / Courtesy of Elizabeth Moen

Have you had that moment when you realize a chapter in your life is over, you can't go back, and you have to adjust to the way things are now?

Elizabeth Moen has too, and she's here for your feels with a sultry new ode to life in the ever after. 

Courtesy of the University of Northern Iowa

All across Iowa, choirs are planning impressive spring concerts in the coming months. 

Here's a list of everything we know about that's happening in March. If your concert is missing, email us, and please let us know what we should add!

Barrett Emke

Kevin Morby has been making music since he was 10 years old when he started playing the guitar. When he was 17, he dropped out of high school, got his GED and moved to Brooklyn where he released his first album.

Fast forward to 2020, and he’s released five solo albums. His newest, “Oh My God,” reflects on our culture’s relationship with a higher power, both in terms of the thoughtful and the trivial. 

Good Era Film

Singer-songwriter Ben Rendall, who is a member of the Waterloo-Cedar Falls band TWINS, has released a new single and music video, “In Your Twenties.”

Madeleine King / IPR File

Hinterland is back this summer for its sixth year July 31 – August 2.  

Chris Pizzello / AP Photo

Hollywood produced some truly incredible movies in 2019 with some truly incredible soundtracks. If after watching some of these movies you find yourself thinking “wow, I wish I knew where to find more music like that,” here are some recommendations based on movies that are nominated for "best soundtrack" at this year’s Academy Awards. 

Madeleine King / IPR File

Winter in Iowa can be harsh.  Rather than keeping you at home, perhaps the snow and cold can spur you on to see a great band in a warm venue! Here are a few upcoming shows that caught my attention. With a couple of exceptions, these are all nationally touring acts passing through our state.  In addition, there is a wealth of Iowa talent to be heard performing near you in the next couple of months!

Jack Plunkett / Invision/AP

We’ve put the lid on 2019.  And we’ve looked back at the decade just finished, reveling in all the great music that has come our way.  Of course, every year has its share of stellar sounds, and 2020 will be no exception.  Here are five records coming out in the next few weeks that we are eagerly awaiting. 

IPR/Matthew Alvarez

Nearly a dozen people sat in a small room painted black and lit only by two theatre lamps, drawing attention to a DJ booth with its chrome and silver equipment glimmering.

DJ Patrick Blin stepped up to the booth, and the silence was broken by the sounds of record scratches as those watching pulled out their phones to begin filming. Smiles broke out across their faces.


A handful of us at IPR have spent entirely too much time obsessing over what we think the best albums of the decade are. After much deliberation, here are our picks. 

We also want to know what your favorite albums were! Tweet us @IowaPublicRadio #iprmusic.