I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Coming up, Detroit's bankruptcy last week made headlines because it was the biggest in history, but now comes the question of why this happened and what, if anything, this means for other American cities. We'll hear two very different views about this in just a few minutes. But first, we want to turn to two significant elections in Africa this week. The West African country of Mali is being praised for a smooth presidential vote this past weekend.
This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. Later in the program, we'll talk about elections set for Zimbabwe, where 89-year-old President Robert Mugabe is hoping to win yet another term despite - or maybe because of - what many people call an increasingly abusive dictatorial style of government. We'll talk about that in just a few minutes. But first, we want to talk about an issue that's become a central focus of activists in this country - it's the incarceration rate.
Andrew Bird's records have grown quieter and more intimate in recent years, but he remains a remarkably dynamic live performer: Last year's Break It Yourself wouldn't seem to be the stuff of blockbuster live shows, and yet when he took it to the stage, he injected its characteristically smart, brooding songs with surprising intensity. Of course, it helps that, 12 albums into an unpredictable career, Bird has become a cult superstar whose fans clearly fuel him onstage.
Tift Merritt was first known as a decorated country singer — her 2004 album Tambourine was even nominated for a Best Country Album Grammy — but the North Carolina native has spent the years since wandering down far-flung side roads. Merritt keeps finding ways to place literal and figurative distance between herself and Nashville: She's lived in New York City and France, while exploring the sounds of folk, cosmopolitan pop and even classical music.