Hear & Now
This week on the music beat
CAPITAL HILL Whatever happened to Lauryn Hill’s Unplugged? Taped last July, the eagerly anticipated show went missing from MTV’s schedule. Recent rumors suggested it had been shelved. In fact, the two-hour concert is set to air on MTV2 March 10, and a one-hour cut will play on MTV five days later. But that’s not all: On March 26, Columbia will release a Lauryn Hill Unplugged album. Hill’s episode is unusual, featuring the singer alone with an acoustic guitar playing all-new, sometimes unfinished material. ”The concept was always to take songs we know and break them down to their beginnings, but we don’t know these songs,” says Unplugged creator and producer Alex Coletti. ”It’s like being in Lauryn’s bedroom watching her write the stuff.” Coletti says Hill’s new tunes ”run the gamut, from bossa nova to acoustic hip-hop to Joan Armatrading-type music and Bob Marley influences.” Looks like she’s really stirring it up.
NONE’ THE WISER For connoisseurs of contemporary composers and world-music artists, Nonesuch has always been a reliable brand name, home to revered artists such as Steve Reich, Philip Glass, and Caetano Veloso. Now, it’s also becoming one of the smartest pop labels around. Though Nonesuch has long released the occasional rock project, it has lately signed highly sought acts Wilco, Magnetic Fields, and Randy Newman, all of whom are coming off critically adored albums. ”It’s been an evolutionary process,” says Nonesuch president Robert Hurwitz. ”It’s not a big stretch to go from Caetano Veloso to [Wilco frontman] Jeff Tweedy or Randy Newman. So in our heads, we’re doing the same thing we’ve always done — working with people who create music without compromise. But with the way the pop business has changed, it’s brought a whole different range of opportunities for us.” Look for Wilco’s next album, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, April 23. Newman and Magnetic Fields could have new CDs by the end of the year.