Audie Cornish

For comedian and actor Jenny Slate, the path to finding her own voice went through crushing failure (professional) and heartbreak (divorce).

She began her career in stand-up, was drafted to Saturday Night Live — and was fired. The path that followed was uncharted.

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

While Kelly Lytle Hernández was growing up in San Diego near the U.S.-Mexico border in the late 1980s and early '90s, she watched as people from her community, friends and neighbors, disappeared: Black youths disappeared into the prison system; Mexican immigrants disappeared through deportations.

These experiences affected her deeply.

"It was growing up in that environment that forced me to want to understand what was happening to us and why it seemed legitimate," Lytle Hernández tells All Things Considered. "And I wanted to disrupt that legitimacy."

Grief can feel like a new world emerging, swallowing up the reality you once knew and expanding into something entirely all-consuming. New York rapper Kemba used that monolithic feeling to create his major label debut album, Gilda, a record that pays tribute to his mother who passed away two years ago.

Kemba's mother raised him and his two brothers in The Bronx, N.Y., a place that gave him little choice but to be immersed in hip-hop

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Nailed It! is a competition show in which home bakers try to re-create elaborate cakes — and often fail spectacularly.

"Our show is truly like: As long as you don't kill people with your food, you might win!" says co-host Nicole Byer.

So when Byer learned the Netflix program was nominated for an Emmy, she was shocked.

"The call I got from Netflix, one of the execs on the show, she was like ... 'We were — nominated?' " Byer says. "Everybody was surprised."

Fifty years ago this August, Miles Davis assembled a group of musicians to record the sprawling, groundbreaking album Bitches Brew. With the sounds of Jimi Hendrix, Sly & the Family Stone and James Brown in his head, Davis plugged in and brought these electric rock sensibilities to jazz.

As young men, the sons of the Villalobos family in rural Veracruz, Mexico embarked on separate paths — at least, geographically. One by one, the three violin-playing brothers left their hometown of Xalapa to study classical music abroad. Ernesto, the oldest of the three, went to study at the Manhattan School of Music. Alberto, the middle brother, went to the Royal Conservatory of Brussels and finally Luis, the youngest, went to the Hochschule für Musik in Freiburg, Germany.

Since it dropped in April, Lil Nas X's "Old Town Road" has been an inescapable hit. The song's massive blow-up is at least partially thanks to TikTok: the social media platform that launches viral stars 15 seconds at a time, and what writer Alyssa Bereznak called the "future of the music industry" in a recent article for The Ringer.

Back in the mid-'90s, Emily Nussbaum was working on a Ph.D. in literature at NYU. But the TV on the other side of the room just kept catching her eye.

"I was sitting on my sofa," Nussbaum says in an interview. "I had a small, junky television. I had broken the extremely rudimentary remote control. I had to get up from the sofa, walk over to the television, turn the big plastic dial ... it made a nice clunky sound."

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