Christina Cala

Sesame Street, the award-winning children's program turns 50 this year. As the iconic TV program has aged, it has managed to stay musically apace with its forever-young audience. It's not an easy task, but it's one that the show's creators prioritize for the sake of children's education. While Big Bird, Elmo & co.

Kishi Bashi's "Summer of '42" is a love song inspired by and set in one of the darker chapters of American history: the internment of Japanese-Americans after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. "What are the things you wanted / The same as anyone," the songwriter and multi-instrumentalist sings. "Just a hand to hold a little / After all is said and done."

Los Angeles rapper Duckwrth grew up with a foot in two worlds. One foot was firmly planted in his mother's Pentecostal household, while the other meandered around his neighborhood outside. The artist grew up trying to navigate between these two worlds and he uses his upcoming EP, The Falling Man, to look back and incorporate these competing forces.

With a reverence for classics and an experimental spirit, Kelsey Lu is broadening the scope of how strings fit into contemporary pop. Lu's debut album, Blood, out now, is a mash-up of disco, R&B, pop and more that's rooted in her adoration of strings.

Kanye West has been rapping about God from early in his career, hearkening back to one of his first hits, "Jesus Walks" off his debut album, 2004's The College Dropout.

Thutmose is the name of an ancient Egyptian pharaoh, but it's also the stage name of Nigerian-born rapper and songwriter Umar Ibrahim. After immigrating with his family to Brooklyn, N.Y. at the age of 8, Thutmose grew up caught between the America he was experiencing and the America he imagined. "The hip-hop, the R&B, the aggressiveness of New York City, the diversity — it was such a culture shock and I was a rather quiet kid," Thutmose says.

At 22 years old, Tamino possesses a voice that carries the hypnotic, immediate power of something much more ancient. Born Tamino Moharam Fouad and named after a prince in Mozart's The Magic Flute, the Belgian-Egyptian artist explores his heritage by combining his own sound with Arabic influences of his Lebanese and Egyptian ancestors. Tamino's debut album, Amir, out now, melds together the artist's eccentric vocal style with Arab musical theory.

One young woman is walking to find work so she can send money back to Venezuela for a nephew who has leukemia.

Another is traveling with four of her five kids, in search of food for her family.

As another family hikes along, the husband walks ahead to hide his tears from his children.

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Independent artists now make up nearly 40 percent of the global music industry - the highest share of the market since the early 1990s. But what exactly does it mean to be independent?

Two South American countries have been in the news a lot lately. Venezuela's economy has collapsed in a political crisis and in Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, the country's new far-right president, has made racist comments and been accused of stoking anti-gay violence. For musicians in both those countries, the news is affecting their work.

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Back in 2005, with soulful blue eyes and an acoustic guitar, Teddy Geiger was a teen heartthrob. The Rochester, N.Y.-hailing artist had a soft rock hit, "For You I Will (Confidence)."

The first thing you'll notice about musician Jacob Banks is his voice — a mesmerizingly deep baritone with timbre so rich, you can almost feel it wrapping you up in song. But that's not all the 27-year-old R&B singer brings to the table.

Nnamdi Ogbonnaya has eclectic taste, and you can hear it in his music. "I have a very Muppet-like energy when I talk that can go from zero to 100, real fast," the rapper says.

Durand Jones & The Indications started as a side project between a few music students at Indiana University's Jacobs School of Music. Their intention was to play for one night only. With a $452.11 recording budget (including beer) and an American Idol-branded toy microphone, they recorded the songs that would become their 2016 self-titled debut.

Fiona the hippo may be one of the greatest living social media stars of the decade, but in terms of those who aren't living, look no further than Sue the Tyrannosaurus rex.

Though she's a fossil, Sue is a true Chicagoan and has been on display in her home at The Field Museum since 2000.

Like many of us these days, Sue is sassy and shares her hot takes on Twitter with adoring fans.

As Sue comes off her mount, the skeleton crew uses Allen wrenches to take each piece apart, the same tools you might use on IKEA furniture.