Connor Donevan | Texas Public Radio

Connor Donevan

Since the pandemic started, 38.6 million Americans have filed for unemployment claims, according to new numbers announced Thursday.

That's more than one in five American workers using an unemployment insurance system first established decades ago to serve a very different population.

During the coronavirus pandemic, people have jettisoned all manner of routines, and grooming is no exception.

On social media, many men are leaning into self-isolation with the #QuarantineBeard. Comedian Jim Carrey, for one, is putting down the razor until "we all go back to work," encouraging his Twitter followers to join him in his "meaningless transformation," using the hashtag #letsgrowtogether.

With a societal shift away from buying albums, touring has been one of the main ways for musicians to support themselves. But now, as the coronavirus precautions shut down public spaces, clubs and concert halls are empty, the tour buses are parked and artists are trying to figure out how they'll get by in an era of social distancing.

There's an old writing exercise that involves describing a color without naming it; it challenges the writer to evoke the emotional primacy of a concept we often take for granted.

Inspiration can strike anywhere. For Sunny Jain, the inspiration for his new album Wild Wild East came while he was on stage at a concert at the Global Village in Dubai, which he describes as "kind of like the Epcot center of the Mideast."

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

A lot of the songs by the Scottish band Frightened Rabbit are dark, like wince-when-you-listen-to-the-lyrics dark.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE TWIST")

Candi Staton released her 30th studio album, Unstoppable, in August 2018. True to the album's name, the four-time Grammy nominee and Christian Music Hall of Famer has shown that her life will slow down at nothing.

Earl Sweatshirt has a lot to process. The Los Angeles rapper has just returned from a three-year break to release his third studio album, Some Rap Songs, last month and he's been taking it all in. All across downtown LA, promo posters of the album read: 'Thebe Kgositsile, professionally known as Earl Sweatshirt, presents the studio album Some Rap Songs.'

On a recent Friday afternoon, 30-year-old Sidumiso Nyoni took the train from her home in rural Nyamandhlovu, Zimbabwe, to the industrial city of Bulawayo to visit family. It's a distance of only 25 miles, but she says the roads are in such bad shape that the train is the only option. The ride isn't long, but the schedule is completely unpredictable.

"The train doesn't have a specific time at which it comes," she says. Sometimes she says she'll arrive at the station for a 7 a.m. train and "it ends up spoiling the rest of your day, because the train comes in the afternoon."

On April 21, 2008, Florence Machinga lost everything. A mob of hundreds of people showed up at her house, demanded to see her — and, when she didn't materialize, burned it down.

"They destroyed everything," she says. "Cattle were slaughtered, the chickens were slaughtered."

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