Anastasia Tsioulcas

English vocalist Sam Lee has an amazing backstory: He found his way to singing professionally after stints as a wilderness survival expert and a burlesque dancer. But what really matters are his mesmerizing performances, as well as his incredible ability to connect with people — certainly with the audience in front of him, but also with the elders he's sought out to learn these songs.

An American punk drummer has become an unlikely historian of the Armenian community in Aleppo, Syria. And he's recently released a recording of their religious music — just as the city is crumbling during Syria's ongoing civil war.

Jason Hamacher doesn't seem like the kind of guy who would be drawn to a place like Syria.

"I am the son of a Southern Baptist minister," he says. "I was born in Texas, I have no cultural ties or blood ties whatsoever to the Middle East, or to the populations that inhabit the Middle East."

Billboard magazine used to be known as "the bible of the music business," a trade publication trusted for its straightforward analysis of industry trends. But an anonymous questionnaire that leaked online last Thursday has some readers questioning Billboard's journalistic skills and integrity.

Each June 21, the one-day Make Music New York festival (MMNY) celebrates not just sound but community. It's a summer solstice gathering of the tribes for music makers and music lovers alike, with more than 1200 outdoor concerts across the five boroughs running from morning till night.

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