NPR Staff

Recently, NPR brought you the story of one of 2016's most successful musicians: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Last year, the Universal Music Group released a 200-CD box set of the composer's works. Multiply that by the 6,000-odd sets sold worldwide as of early December, and you had 1.25 million CDs. And that, we said, had given Mozart a hit release.

When Barack Obama makes his farewell address Tuesday night, it will be one of the last times we'll hear from the president, while he's still actually the president.

But before his political career, Obama was a community organizer in Chicago, the first black president of the Harvard Law Review and the state director of Illinois Project Vote.

And it was back then — in the 1990s, when Obama was in his late 20s and early 30s — that he first appeared on NPR.

Here are highlights from some of those earliest appearances:

This post was updated at 1:15 pm ET.

Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions says he's not a racist and that he's been unfairly "caricatured."

"You have a Southern name; you come from South Alabama, that sounds worse to some people," Sessions said during the first day of his confirmation hearings to be the next attorney general of the United States.

He forcefully defended his record, saying he "did not" harbor the "racial animosities" of which he's been accused, saying they are "damnably false."

Many of us feel irked when we hear people speaking "incorrectly." Whether it's using "like" a few too many times, or the word "literally" to mean "figuratively," we have a sense that there is a correct way to speak, and that that isn't it. While new speech patterns might be irritating, the linguist John McWhorter says they can't possibly be wrong. His new book is Words on the Move: Why English Won't and Can't Sit Still (Like Literally).

In Venezuela, food has become so scarce it's now being sold on the black market. One person tells the Associated Press, "it's a better business than drugs."

And the food traffickers are the very people sworn to protect Venezuela: the nation's military.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro gave the military complete control of the food supply last summer, after people began protesting in the streets over food rationing. Shortages had become so bad that people were even ransacking grocers — though many were largely empty.

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