New York-based alternative rock group MS MR enjoyed a busy 2013, with several popular releases and numerous tour stops. The duo’s recent success has marked them as rapidly rising stars in the world of indie pop.
Musicians Lizzy Plapinger and Max Hershenow released the video of their second single, “Fantasy,” early in the year, then watched the track’s March iTunes release easily hit single-of-the-week status. Their debut album, Secondhand Rapture, was released in May and quickly soared to the second spot on Billboard’s Heatseekers Albums chart. Since then, MS MR has been touring some of the highest-profile music festivals and venues in the world, from Australia’s Splendor in the Grass to Texas’ Austin City Limits.
In an end-of-year interview with Elle magazine in December 2013, MS MR were asked about their views on recent directions in pop music. Both musicians agreed that the emergence of new, independent voices like Lorde, Haerts, Chvrches, and Haim marks a positive trend. Asked about plans for 2014, Hershenow resolved to focus on writing some new songs, something the duo didn’t have time to do amidst their busy tour and release schedule in 2013.
On the heels of an array of accolades over the past decade, San Francisco-based literacy organization 826 National won the American Prize in the first annual Library of Congress Literacy Awards in late 2013. The award, which includes a $50,000 grant, recognizes a successful project that effectively promotes literacy. Specifically, 826 operates a network of centers for underserved students in eight major cities throughout the United States. Programs include tutoring, writing workshops, publishing projects, and a wide range of other imaginative offerings intended to engage students.
The Library of Congress Literacy Awards also confers the International Award, for work that promotes literacy overseas. The first such honor, also in the amount of $50,000, went to PlanetRead in Mumbai, India. This program is especially notable for its innovative work in literacy instruction using subtitles on popular musical films and television programs.
The final and perhaps most prestigious honor among the Library of Congress Literacy Awards is the David M. Rubenstein Prize. This $150,000 award recognizes uniquely sustainable literacy efforts throughout the world. In its inaugural year, the honor went to Reach Out and Read in Boston, Massachusetts, an organization that integrates literacy into pediatric care, taking advantage of the many doctor visits in a child’s early life to promote reading education.