Lin-Manuel Miranda is a playwright, actor, and songwriter. He’s the creator of the broadway hits Hamilton and In the Heights, and he’s a Tony-award winner, a Grammy winner, an Emmy winner, a Pulitzer Prize winner, and a recipient of the MacArthur Genius Grant. Lin-Manuel grew up in New York, and would spend summers in Puerto Rico, where his parents are from and where much of his family still lives.
In September 2017, Puerto Rico was hit by Hurricane Maria, the worst storm in the island’s history. The official death toll from the hurricane is 55 people, but that figure doesn’t include hundreds of deaths that have resulted from lack of clean water or hospitals without electricity. The response to the crisis from the US government was slow. But the day after the hurricane hit, Lin-Manuel Miranda began working on “Almost Like Praying,” a song whose proceeds could be used to raise money for hurricane relief, to get help to the island as quickly as possible. He recruited an all star cast of singers, rappers, and actors to put vocals on the track, including Jennifer Lopez, Gloria Estefan, Marc Anthony, and more; twenty-two artists total. And all of this was done in just eight days. In this episode, Lin-Manuel Miranda tells the story of how it all came together.
Rachel Platten is a singer and songwriter who’s released four albums, including her 2016 album Wildfire, which went Gold. The lead single from that album, “Fight Song,” was used prominently by Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. For a normally apolitical artist, the sudden proximity to the election had profound effects, both positive and negative. In this episode, Rachel breaks down her song “Broken Glass,” which was inspired by that experience, and written just days before the 2016 election.
The show Stranger Things is a Netflix original series. It was first released in July 2016. Season two’s release date: October 27, 2017. After the first season, the show was nominated for 18 Emmys, and won the Emmy for Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music. The theme music, along with the rest of the show’s score, was composed by Michael Stein and Kyle Dixon of the band SURVIVE. In this episode, they break down how they made the main title theme.