Featured Artist: Ry Cooder

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Whether he’s serving as a session player, bandleader, producer or solo artist, the best word to describe Ry Cooder is “authentic.” This month’s featured artist moves seamlessly from genre to genre—jazz, country, folk, soul, rock ‘n’ roll—and his guitar work always sounds effortless. During his 45-year career, Cooder has quietly helped broaden the musical horizons of his fellow musicians, as well as listeners. Most famously, he made his way to Cuba in 1997 to record the Platinum-selling Buena Vista Social Club. This year, Cooder is nominated for what could be his seventh Grammy Award, in the Category of Best Contemporary Folk/Americana Album for My Name Is Buddy (Nonesuch), a collection of folk tunes that has all the heart, and none of the bombast, of Springsteen’s Seeger Sessions.

Cooder also produced one of the best gospel-soul albums of ’07, Mavis Staples’ We’ll Never Turn Back (Anti)—a sultry and passionate collection of freedom songs inspired by the disgraceful treatment of African-American victims of Hurricane Katrina.

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READ:
Ry Cooder's "Chavez Ravine"

LISTEN: Must Play
Poor Man's Shangri-La From Chavez Ravine

READ:
Buena Vista Social Club Cool Spin

LISTEN: Must Play
Chan Chan from Buena Vista Social Club

READ:
Mavis Staples' "We'll Never Turn Back"

READ:
Ry Cooder and Manuel Galban's "Mambo Sinuendo" Cool Spin