Mano Sundaresan

In the last installment of Play It Forward, the series in which musicians give thanks for the artists who have inspired them, Ari Shapiro spoke with saxophonist Lakecia Benjamin.

When RMR enters our virtual meeting, he looks the only way the world knows him: eyes popping through a gold-embroidered balaclava, gilded grills gleaming.

Mano Sundaresan, NPR Music: You're wearing the mask right now. Do you wear the mask in every public moment?

RMR: Yeah.

What does it mean to you?

Last time on Play It Forward, our musical chain of gratitude, R&B singer and producer Georgia Anne Muldrow raved about the saxophonist Lakecia Benjamin. They share a few things in common: Both studied together at The New School's School of Jazz and Contemporary Music, both tap a similar spiritual vein in their music and as Muldrow sees it, both are "sangin' " even if it's through different mediums.

In the last episode of Play It Forward, Robin Dann, the lead singer of Toronto jazz-pop outfit Bernice, sang the praises of R&B experimentalist Georgia Anne Muldrow. Sometime between 2005 and 2006, Dann saw her perform at the Gladstone Hotel in Toronto for a crowd of around 30. That number didn't matter; buoyed by her commanding voice and free spirit, Muldrow delivered an unforgettable set that left Dann mesmerized.

Earlier this month, All Things Considered spoke to Glenn Copeland for Play It Forward, our ongoing musical chain of gratitude. Copeland spoke about experiencing widespread recognition for the first time in his 70s and his appreciation for Canadian jazz-pop band Bernice and its lead singer, Robin Dann.

"I am one of your down on my knees fans, out of a sense of awe," he said. "I just want to say, no matter what, don't stop. Don't stop writing. Your vision is extraordinary, and it's musically so exciting."

The coronavirus pandemic has affected musicians around the world. Many have had to cancel tours, delay album releases and find new sources of income. But some artists have found inspiration in the virus.

Last week All Things Considered kicked off our new musical chain of gratitude series Play It Forward with Dan Snaith, who records as Caribou. He told us why he's grateful for a musician named Glenn Copeland, who is today's link in the chain.

"Home," the first single from Caribou's latest album Suddenly, has taken on an unexpected meaning. As millions of Americans sit under self-quarantine at home and may be reaching for music as a form of solace, you could hear the refrain — "I'm home" — as either a cry or a reassurance.

Bashar Jackson, better known as the Brooklyn rapper Pop Smoke, died Wednesday morning in Los Angeles during what appeared to be a home invasion. He was 20 years old.

While the Los Angeles Police Department would not identify Jackson by name as the victim in Wednesday morning's shooting, NPR confirmed his death through his record label, Republic Records.

"I'm not gonna be that artist that's gonna put out the same body of work until I die, because that's probably gonna be the reason I die — 'cause that sounds boring."

Brittney Parks, the 25-year-old artist who records as Sudan Archives, speaks the way her music sounds — meandering passages that flutter and unravel, threading darkness and humor, creating novel avenues to fundamental truths. The truth she's landed on here — that a lack of change might literally kill her — is evident in her work, which never sits still.