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Michael McDonald's distinctive voice is woven right into the fabric of popular culture. You don't need to hear his name to know it's him singing in any one of his many different musical incarnations.

In this session, we slip into the world of Emily Haines and The Soft Skeleton. Haines is the lead singer of the electro-tinged rock and roll band Metric, but in her solo work you won't find any wailing guitars or radical synths — the spotlight shines right on her voice and the work of art that is her songwriting.

Hear Emily Haines, solo on the piano, in the player above.

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When it comes to maligning the news media, Morrissey has few peers. As he sings in "Spent The Day In Bed," a song from his most recent album Low In High School: "I recommend that you stop / watching the news / because the news contrives to frighten you / to make you feel small and alone / to make you feel that your mind isn't your own."

When Rory Graham was 19 or 20 years old, he sang in public for the first time. And he didn't really think there was anything special about his voice. Turns out, the world disagrees.

In September, WGBH traveled a few hours west on the Mass Pike to capture Brooklyn-based Big Thief performing live at Gateway City Arts in Holyoke, Mass.

It was just another sad story on the Los Angeles evening news: a homeless man in his mid-50s, found stabbed to death in a park in the San Fernando Valley, his body in a pool of blood behind the softball fields. It took several days for him to be identified as Frederick Smith, a musician known to friends, fans and colleagues as "Freak," someone who had left an indelible mark on the epochal '80s hardcore punk scene of Washington, D.C.

Pat DiNizio, a singer and songwriter who made popular rock songs as the leader of The Smithereens, died on Tuesday at age 62, his fellow band members say. No cause of death was provided.

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