Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Photos: Kristy Walker, Carlos Catarecha; Illustration: Tony Zuniga
Pictured left to right: Rebecca Jade (photo: Kristy Walker); Gilbert Castellanos (photo: courtesy); Alfred Howard (photo: Kristy Walker); Charles McPherson (photo: Carlos Catarecha)

Influential: San Diego musicians on the songs that shaped their work

Read the stories

San Diego has a thriving, diverse music scene. From rock and roll to jazz to classical to rap, there's a lot to listen to in the border region, and a lot of players making great music. Influential is a KPBS music series in which we can get to know the songs that shaped these musicians: as individuals and as artists.


The songs that resonate with each artist cross genre lines: an R&B singer talks about Mozart, or a jazz great jams to Earth, Wind & Fire. When music is concerned, the songs that impact us often come hand-in-hand with really great stories.

For each installment, you can immerse yourself in the entire audio diary as a listening session and let the artist tell you about each song in their own words. Or, for another way of checking it out, click "play" on each embedded track and read the stories as you go. We've also embedded a Spotify playlist of most of the tracks mentioned, so you can add it to your favorites and listen anytime.

Read the stories

Julia Dixon Evans writes the KPBS Arts newsletter, produces and edits the KPBS/Arts Calendar and works with the KPBS team to cover San Diego's diverse arts scene. Previously, Julia wrote the weekly Culture Report for Voice of San Diego and has reported on arts, culture, books, music, television, dining, the outdoors and more for The A.V. Club, Literary Hub and San Diego CityBeat. She studied literature at UCSD (where she was an oboist in the La Jolla Symphony), and is a published novelist and short fiction writer. She is the founder of Last Exit, a local reading series and literary journal, and she won the 2019 National Magazine Award for Fiction. Julia lives with her family in North Park and loves trail running, vegan tacos and live music.
Got a question or tip for KPBS/Arts?