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FUV Essentials

There are many variables that determine what makes an artist or band “essential” — longevity, impact, influence, history, discography — and WFUV takes a deeper look with FUV Essentials. On-air and online, we celebrate musicians who have shaped our cultural soundtrack. Let’s love these artists while they’re here, and honor those who have departed too soon.

The Beach Boys

The Beach Boys are as good as seasonal music gets, this side of Christmas. That some of the most commercially conceived pop music could evolve into the subtlety and abstraction of Pet Sounds, or Sunflower/Surf's Up-era Beach Boys, or Brian Wilson's mid-life valedictory "Love And Mercy" is one of the great true stories of music. This week, FUV celebrates the Beach Boys and Brian Wilson as FUV Essentials.

The Allman Brothers Band

"The real question," Gregg Allman once told Rolling Stone writer Cameron Crowe, "is not why we're so popular. I try not to think about that too much. The question is what made the Allman Brothers keep on going." The deaths of Allman in May and drummer and founding member Butch Trucks in January, signaled the Allman Brothers Band's final chapter in 2017. But with the release of Allman's posthumous solo album, Southern Blood, in September there's still an afterlife to be reckoned with as FUV salutes the band and the man on this week's FUV Essentials.

Jessica Lea Mayfield: Five Essential Michael Jackson Songs

Jessica Lea Mayfield might love the music of Elliot Smith and Dave Grohl, but as we found out in conversation with her recently, she's also a fan of Michael Jackson. Since she's on the cusp of releasing a new album herself, called Sorry is Gone, we asked Mayfield if she might want to write about "Five Essential Michael Jackson Songs" for FUV Essentials.

Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson, who would have turned 59 on August 29, 2017, remains one of the most talented, fascinating, elusive, and tragic figures in contemporary music. Although his troubled private life, legal travails and puzzling public persona often overshadowed his pop genius, his recordings remain a testament to his gift.

Tori Amos

To bare oneself with fearless candor — and speak as a survivor, a witness and ultimately as an activist — is not easy. Straddling her piano bench and bravely laying her soul bare, Tori Amos, this week's FUV Essentials artist, kicked open the door to another avenue of confessional songwriting and elevated the voices of those who've faced trauma or anguish in their lives.

Norah Jones: Five Essential Willie Nelson Songs

Norah Jones, who counts Willie Nelson as a collaborator, an inspiration, and a friend, even named her alt-country side band, The Little Willies, after him. As FUV honors the great man as an FUV Essentials artist, we reached out to Jones to write about her fellow Texan and the "Five Essential Willie Nelson Songs" that mean the most to her.