Tori Whitley

Katy Perry has had nine No. 1 songs since 2008, including "Teenage Dream," "California Gurls" and "Roar." She has this upbeat, candy-coated, not-quite-real human-with-real-human-problems persona. And then in 2017, she released an album called Witness that was supposed to show a more authentic Katy. Critics didn't love it; more importantly, a lot of her fans didn't either. Her response is her new record, Smile, which is out Aug. 28.

With less than 100 days until the 2020 presidential election, Ohio's 18 electoral votes are in play.

The state went for President Trump in 2016, and Ashtabula County is one reason why.

The Chicks — formerly known as the Dixie Chicks — is back with a new record called Gaslighter after 14 years. Why the long time gone? Martie Maguire, Emily Strayer and Natalie Maines say they wanted a break to raise their kids, among other things, but after a 2016 reunion tour, they felt the hunger again. Their new album is rooted in failed relationships, some good ones, anger and a lotta humor. Maguire says life experience never hurts writing.

The pandemic, a bad economy, police killings and a fight for racial equality: It's a lot of take in. For some, music has been a way to cope and try to make sense of it all and that is the premise behind the Morning Edition Song Project, in which we asked musicians to write and perform an original song about this moment.

Angelica Garcia says she sometimes feels like two people. To understand that sentiment, look at her first two albums. Her first release, 2016's Medicine for Birds, was a bluesy country record: She sang about the South, about Loretta Lynn, about her adopted home of Virginia. Her new album Cha Cha Palace, however, is all about her East Los Angeles upbringing and her Latinx identity.

After introducing herself to audiences in the early 2010s as a writer of upbeat and clever Americana, Caroline Rose is now firmly a pop singer. Rose first applied her songwriting talent to pop rock on 2018's Loner, and her newest release, Superstar (out March 6), is a synth-heavy concept album, telling the story of an unabashedly ambitious singer's rapid rise and unceremonious fall.

The Lumineers have taken their latest album, III, as an opportunity to shine a light on a topic that's close to many of the members' lives — addiction. III tells a story of addiction in three acts. As the album runs from one song to the next, it's a tale of one family facing the same problem. "It's the family secret and it's a taboo," Wes Schultz, the band's lead vocalist, says.

Drummer Jeremiah Fraites says addiction happens in cycles and should be considered that way.

At a cancer treatment center in Iran's capital of Tehran, a doctor's fight to treat her cancer patients has become harder. As U.S. sanctions sink in, the flow of medicine and medical supplies in Iran appears to have slowed — and the reasons are difficult to pin down.

Dr. Mastaneh Sanei, an oncologist at the Roshana Cancer Center, says she's treating patients without the benefits of consistently functioning equipment and a reliable supply of drugs.

With the right treatment, she says, "you may not cure these patients, but they have the chance to prolong survival."

Tanya McCloskey and Marcia Kadish didn't set out to make headlines when they got married on May 17, 2004.

That morning, McCloskey and Kadish were the first same-sex couple to get legally married in the U.S. after being together for nearly 20 years.

"We felt we were married already," Kadish tells Morning Edition host Rachel Martin. "This was just making it legal."

Ani DiFranco grew up in a house with no walls. "It was like a brick carriage house there. Inside there was just one room on the first floor and one room on the second floor. So it was an intimate house for a non-intimate family."

DiFranco's deep craving for intimacy led her to writing music. And the things DiFranco wanted to write were exactly what a generation of women coming of age in the '90s wanted to hear. DiFranco relives those early years in her new memoir, No Walls and the Recurring Dream.

Rock fans fell in love with The Cranberries in the early '90s, thanks, in large part, to the haunting, Celtic-inspired voice of the Irish rock band's lead singer, Dolores O'Riordan. The Cranberries, made up of O'Riordan on lead vocal, guitarist Noel Hogan, bassist Mike Hogan and Fergal Lawler on drums, created an intoxicating juxtaposition of grunge and alternative pop, with O'Riordan's lilting lyrics searing through right in.

So far, Maggie Rogers has spent a healthy dose of her professional career as an online sensation. That may not sound strange given the Internet age, but in Rogers' case, it was entirely accidental.