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Cat Power Means People Power

Cat Power
Eliot Lee Hazel
Courtesy of the artist
Cat Power

Chan Marshall, who makes music as Cat Power, is a live wire, sparking in fits and starts while creative currents run through her. Sometimes it's staccato and sometimes it's smooth, and you get the sense that sometimes it's in her control and other times maybe it's not. In studio with her band, there were moments when we couldn't tell if Chan was performing a song from her latest record or creating something new — probably because even when she's performing songs that have already been recorded somewhere, she is still creating something new. It was absolutely stunning to witness.

Chan was here performing songs from her 2018 album, Wanderer, which almost didn't see the light of day. First, Chan found out she was pregnant in 2014 and considered giving it all up and moving to Australia. Then, when she actually did decide to make another record, it was rejected by her longtime label, Matador, who had been releasing her music since her 1996 breakout album, What Would the Community Think.It took a lot of guts for Chan to pick back up and release it elsewhere. It also took a little encouragement from Lana Del Rey, who sings on the track "Woman."

Chan told me about the powerful realization she had after her encounter with Lana, how a profound moment with her young son ended up on the cover of her album and what the "Cat" in Cat Power actually stands for. Listen in the player above.

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Talia Schlanger hosts World Cafe, which is distributed by NPR and produced by WXPN, the public radio service of the University of Pennsylvania. She got her start in broadcasting at the CBC, Canada's national public broadcaster. She hosted CBC Radio 2 Weekend Mornings on radio and was the on-camera host for two seasons of the television series CBC Music: Backstage,as well asseveral prime-time music TV specials for CBC, including the Quietest Concert Ever: On Fundy's Ocean Floor. Schlanger also guest hosted various flagship shows on CBC Radio One, including As It Happens, Day 6and Because News. Schlanger also won a Canadian Screen Award as aproducer for CBC Music Presents: The Beetle Roadtrip Sessions, a cross-country rock 'n' roll road trip.
Since 2017, John Myers has been the producer of NPR's World Cafe, which is produced by WXPN at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Previously he spent about eight years working on the other side of Philly at WHYY as a producer on the staff of Fresh Air with Terry Gross. John was also a member of the team of public radio veterans recruited to develop original programming for Audible and has worked extensively as a freelance producer. His portfolio includes work for the Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site, The Association for Public Art and the radio documentary, Going Black: The Legacy of Philly Soul Radio. He's taught radio production to preschoolers and college students and, in the late 90's, spent a couple of years traveling around the country as a roadie for the rock band Huffamoose.