54 minutes | May 16, 2023
214 - The Passion of Chris Strachwitz 1931-2023 —Arhoolie Records
Chris was a man possessed. “El Fanatico,” Ry Cooder called him. A song catcher, dedicated to recording the traditional, regional, down home music of America, his adopted home after his family left Germany at the close of WWII. Mance Lipscomb, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Mississippi Fred McDowell, Big Mama Thornton, Clifton Chenier, Rose Maddox, Flaco Jimenez… the list is long and mighty. Chris Strachwitz was a keeper. His vault is jam-packed with 78s, 33s, 45s, reel-to-reels, cassettes, videos, photographs — an archive of all manner of recordings. And an avalanche of lifetime achievement awards — from the Grammy’s, The Blues Hall of Fame, The National Endowment for the Arts – for some 60 years of recording and preserving the musical cultural heritage of this nation through his label, Arhoolie Records. In honor of Chris Strachwitz The Kitchen Sisters reprise The Passion of Chris Strachwitz, produced for The Goethe Institute’s Big Pond series. With interviews with Linda Ronstadt and Bonnie Raitt. Also featuring selected interviews done by Chris Strachwitz with Howlin’ Wolf and The Maddox Brothers and Rose. Produced by The Kitchen Sisters (Nikki Silva & Davia Nelson) with Nathan Dalton and Brandi Howell, mixed by Jim McKee. The Kitchen Sisters Present is part of the Radiotopia network from PRX.
46 minutes | May 2, 2023
213 - Ada Louise Huxtable, Architecture Critic: The Art We Must Live With
Ada Louise Huxtable, who “invented” the profession of architecture critic, wrote countless articles for two great daily newspapers and had a gigantic influence on our understanding of the work of architects, real estate developers, city bureaucrats, and the city itself, over the course of six decades in print. Beginning in 1963, Huxtable was the first full-time architecture critic at an American newspaper. In 1970, she won the first Pulitzer Prize for distinguished criticism. With her impeccable civic values, cultivated aesthetic sensibility and lacerating accuracy, Ada Louise Huxtable, praised and razed. Huxtable, who was born and lived her life in New York City, raised the public’s awareness of architecture and the urban environment. She wrote for the New York Times and later for the Wall Street Journal. She served as Curatorial Assistant for Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art. Produced by Brandi Howell for the Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation’s podcast, New Angle Voice. The Kitchen Sisters Present is produced by The Kitchen Sisters (Nikki Silva & Davia Nelson), with Brandi Howell and Nathan Dalton. It is part of the Radiotopia Network from PRX.
24 minutes | Apr 18, 2023
212 - Tony Schwartz Centennial- 30,000 Recordings Later
Cab drivers, children’s jump rope rhymes, folk songs, dialects, controversial TV ads, interviews with blacklisted artists and writers during the McCarthy Era — Tony Schwartz was one of the great sound recordists and collectors of the 20th Century. In honor of Tony Schwartz’s Centennial, The Kitchen Sisters Present an audio portrait of a man who spent his life exploring and influencing the world through recorded sound. It was 1947 when Tony first stepped out of his apartment in midtown Manhattan with his microphone to capture the sound of his neighborhood. He was a pioneer recordist, experimenting with microphones and jury-rigging tape recorders to make them portable (some of these recordings were first published by Folkways Records). His work creating advertising and political TV and radio commercials is legendary. The Kitchen Sisters visited Tony in his midtown basement studio in 1999. He had just finished teaching a media class at Harvard by telephone — Tony was agoraphobic and hardly ever ventured beyond his postal zone. He was there in his studio surrounded by reel to reel tape recorders, mixing consoles, framed photographs and awards — and row upon row of audio tapes in carefully labeled boxes. Tony passed away in 2008. His collection now resides in the Library of congress — 90.5 linear feet, 230 boxes, 76,345 items — some 30,000 folk songs, poems, conversations, stories and dialects from his surrounding neighborhood and 46 countries around the world. Tony’s Centennial is being celebrated on April 27, 2023, at the Library of Congress, as part of the Radio Preservation Task Force Conference—A Century of Broadcasting: Preservation and Renewal. This story is part of the Lost & Found Sound series produced by The Kitchen Sisters, Jay Allison and NPR. Special thanks to The National Endowment for the Arts and The National Endowment for the Humanites.
57 minutes | Mar 28, 2023
211 - House/Full of Black Women
For some eight years now thirty-four Black women have gathered monthly around a big dining room table in the orange house on Orange Street in Oakland, CA—meeting, cooking, dancing, strategizing—grappling with the issues of eviction, erasure, gentrification, inadequate health care, and the sex trafficking of Black women and girls that are overwhelming their community. Spearheaded by dancer/choreographer Amara Tabor-Smith and theater director Ellen Sebastian Chang, this House/Full of Black Women—artists, scholars, healers, nurses, midwives, an ice cream maker, a donut maker, an architect, a theater director, a choreographer, sex trafficking abolitionists and survivors—have come together to creatively address and bring their mission and visions to the streets. Over the years they have created performances, rituals, pop-up processions in the storefronts, galleries, warehouses, museums and streets of Oakland. This hour-long special features sound-rich “episodes” of performances and rituals, interviews with sex trafficking abolitionists, personal stories of growing up in the Bay Area, music, Black women dreaming, resisting, insisting. Produced by Ellen Sebastian Change, Sital Muktari and The Kitchen Sisters, narrated by Sital Muktari, mixed by Jim McKee, in collaboration with an evolving House/Full of Black Women collective, Nathan Dalton and Brandi Howell. Funding for this House/Full of Black Women Special comes from The Creative Work Fund, The National Endowment for the Arts, The Kaleta Doolin Foundation, The Texas Women’s Foundation, Susan Sillins, listener contributions to The Kitchen Sisters Productions, and PRX. Original funding for House/Full of BlackWomen was provided by Creative Capital, Creative Work Fund, The Kenneth Rainin Foundation, MAP Fund, and the Hewlett 50. House/Full of Black Women is part of The Keepers series produced by The Kitchen Sisters, Davia Nelson and Nikki Silva, in collaboration with Brandi Howell and Nathan Dalton and mixed by Jim McKee. Archival sounds, recordings and compositions by Alexa Burrell. Visuals created by photographer Robbie Sweeney and designer Kevin Clarke. Ricardo Iamuuri Robinson created some of the soundscape. For names of all the many House/Full members who have had a hand in this project visit deepwatersdance.com.
41 minutes | Mar 21, 2023
210-Ray Eames—Industrial Designer & Artist: Beauty in the Everyday
Many know Ray Eames as the small, dirndled woman behind her more famous husband, Charles Eames. But Ray was the industrial designer bending plywood in the spare bedroom, a talented artist who saw the world full of color, the visionary who treated folk art, cigarette wrappers, flowers, and toys as equally valuable and inspiring. Ray brought the sparkle and inspiration to the legendary Eames Office. The Kitchen Sisters Present Ray Eames from the New Angle Voice a podcast of the Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation, produced by Brandi Howell. Editorial advising from Alexandra Lange. Thanks also to Virginia Eskridge, and Amy Auscherman, Director of Archives and Brand Heritage for MillerKnoll. The archival audio heard in this episode comes from the MillerKnoll archives and the Smithsonian Archives of American Art. Intro music composed by Emma Jackson. Special thanks to Pat Kirkham, Lucia Dewey Atwood, Llisa Demetrios, Jeannine Oppewall, Donald Albrecht, Meg McAleer and Tracey Barton at the Library of Congress, and Alexandra Lange. Funding for this podcast comes from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Graham Foundation, and MillerKnoll. Funding for The Kitchen Sisters comes from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Susan Sillans Foundation, and contributors to The Kitchen Sisters non profit productions.
44 minutes | Mar 7, 2023
209 - Black Reconstruction in America - W.E.B. Du Bois' 1935 Groundbreaking / Myth-Busting Book
In 1935, W. E. B. Du Bois, scholar, public intellectual, and social and political activist, published his magnum opus: Black Reconstruction in America. In it, he tackled the subject of the American Civil War and, especially, the decade or so that followed, a period known as Reconstruction. During Reconstruction it seemed, for a time, that the South and the United States as a whole, might be remade as a radically more equitable society. What was achieved during Reconstruction and why these efforts ultimately failed, is what concerns Du Bois in Black Reconstruction. He was also concerned with challenging and correcting the racist histories of Reconstruction that were prevalent in both popular and academic circles in his day. Black Reconstruction is a widely respected and celebrated book today, but many of its early readers were dismissive, perhaps none more than the academic historians who Du Bois was justifiably calling out. The American Historical Review, for its part, ignored the book entirely. No review. Well, until now. Almost a century later, the AHR just published a review of Black Reconstruction in the December 2022 issue, penned by Yale historian Elizabeth Hinton. Professor Elizabeth Hinton serves as our guide exploring W.E.B. Du Bois’ Black Reconstruction. We also hear from Eric Foner, Chad Williams, Sue Mobley, and Kendra Field. Produced by History in Focus, a podcast from The American Historical Review, hosted and produced by Daniel Story, Digital Scholarship Librarian at UC Santa Cruz. Voices in this Episode Elizabeth Hinton (Associate Professor of History and African American Studies at Yale University, with a secondary appointment as Professor of Law at Yale Law School) Eric Foner (DeWitt Clinton Professor Emeritus of History at Columbia University) Chad Williams (Samuel J. and Augusta Spector Professor of History and African and African American Studies at Brandeis University) Sue Mobley (New Orleans based organizer/activist/urbanist; Director of Research at Monument Lab) Kendra Field (Associate Professor of History and Director of the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy at Tufts University; Project Historian for The Du Bois Freedom Center) Daniel Story (Host and Producer, Digital Scholarship Librarian at UC Santa Cruz)
48 minutes | Feb 7, 2023
207 - The Golden Arches in Black America
Criticisms of fast food often focus on the industrialized system that produces the burgers, buns and fries, or the food’s negative health impacts. Some criticisms have noted the deep ties between McDonald’s and the Black community, blaming communities of color for bad choices, sometimes blaming the fast food industry for being predatory with its advertising or store locations. But the relationship between fast food and Black America is way more complicated. Jerusha Klemperer, host of the podcast “What You’re Eating” talks with Dr. Marcia Chatelain about her Pulitzer Prize winning book, “Franchise: The Golden Arches in Black America,” and the history of that complicated relationship. This story was produced for “What You’re Eating” by Nathan Dalton and FoodPrint.org. We thank them for sharing it with The Kitchen Sisters Present. The Kitchen Sisters Present is produced by The Kitchen Sisters with Nathan Dalton and Brandi Howell. We are part of Radiotopia from PRX, a curated network of independent producers who own their own work. Support for The Kitchen Sisters comes from The National Endowment for the Arts and supporters of The Kitchen Sisters Productions non profit.
22 minutes | Jan 17, 2023
206 - Curtis "Wall Street" Carroll - The Stock Market Wizard of San Quentin is Released!
In 2015 we presented this story about Curtis Carroll, the Stock Market Wizard of San Quentin. Everyone in San Quentin called him Wall Street. He was teaching his fellow prisoners about stocks and had become an informal financial adviser to fellow inmates and correctional officers. After serving 27 years of a 54 years to life sentence in prison, Curtis Carroll, has been released on parole. We hear his story and talk to him about what’s next. When Wall Street was put in prison almost three decades ago he couldn’t read or write. One day he stumbled on the financial section of the newspaper thinking it was the sports section, which his cellmate used to read to him. An inmate asked him if he played the stocks. “I had never heard the word before,” Wall Street said. “He explained to me how it works and said, ‘This is where white people keep their money.’ When he said that I said, ‘Whoa, I think I stumbled across something here.’ ” Wall Street taught himself how to read and write beginning with candy wrappers and clothing logos. He pored over financial news: the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Forbes. On the inside, Wall Street didn’t have access to a computer or the Internet, so he called his family members to check the closing prices for the day and told them what to buy. He says business is like a soap opera — he’s always trying to anticipate what will happen next. “I like to know what the CEO’s doing. I like to know who’s in trouble.” “I’m in prison, but I’m on just the same playing field as Warren Buffett,” Carroll says. “I can pick the exact same companies. I can’t buy as many shares, but technically we’re just the same.” You can find out more about Wall Street, his life and Financial Empowerment, Emotional Literacy Project at ProjectFeel.org. He’s also on Instagram (@CurtisWallstreetCarroll) and Youtube (@WallStreetCarroll). The Kitchen Sisters Present is produced by The Kitchen Sisters (Nikki Silva & Davia Nelson) with Brandi Howell and Nathan Dalton. Wall Street’s original story was mixed by Jim McKee at Earwax Studios. We are part of PRX’s Radiotopia Network. This episode was produced in collaboration with Nancy Mullane and Life of the Law. Many thanks! Special thanks to Curtis Carroll, San Quentin Financial Literacy Program, Anna Deavere Smith, Arnold Perkins, Troy Williams, Lt. Sam Robinson, Tom DeMartini, Zach Williams, Clarence Long, James Fox and the Prison Yoga Project, Tracy Wahl, Jacob Conrad, Nigel Poor, TED, Pop-Up Magazine, and NPR. The Kitchen Sisters are supported by NEA and contributions to the non-profit Kitchen Sisters Productions.
17 minutes | Jan 3, 2023
205-Silent Echoes: Sound Artist Bill Fontana —The Bells of Notre Dame
Since the devastating 2019 fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, the ringing of the cathedral’s bells has ceased. Sound artist, Bill Fontana, known for his sound sculptures of Golden Gate Bridge, temple bells in Kyoto, and trees in Sequoia National Forest, creates a new work giving voice to the silenced bells of Notre Dame. To create his new work, Silent Echoes, Fontana attached seismic accelerometers—sensors designed to detect vibrations—to each of its ten bells of Notre Dame. As the bells reverberate in response to the ambient sounds of Paris—rain, the calls of birds, the noise of the street—the live feed is transmitted to a series of speakers at the Centre Pompidou creating a haunting, immersive sound sculpture. Silent Echoes debuted at the Centre Pompidou in June, where, on the fifth floor terrace of the museum, visitors stood awash in the acoustics of the bells, with the towers of Notre Dame in view just across the Seine. Alisa Carroll of the podcast Alcôve interviewed Bill Fontana in San Francisco and Davia Nelson spoke with him in Paris before the opening of the exhibition. This story was produced by Jim McKee. Sound design and mixing by Jim McKee. Special thanks to Alisa Carroll and Jim McKee for sharing this piece with The Kitchen Sisters Present. The Kitchen Sisters Present is produced by The Kitchen Sisters (Nikki Silva & Davia Nelson) with Brandi Howell and Nathan Dalton. For more info and stories visit kitchensisters.org The Kitchen Sisters Present is part of Radiotopia from PRX - a curated network of independent, creator owned podcasts.
39 minutes | Dec 20, 2022
204 - Library of Congress Acquires Kitchen Sisters' Audio Collection - KQED Forum Interview
Over 7000 hours of interviews, oral histories, songs, field recordings, along with photographs, notebooks, journals, and research material created by The Kitchen Sisters has recently been acquired by The Library of Congress where it will be preserved and made accessible to researchers, students, other producers and the general public into the future. Alexis Madrigal of KQED’s Forum talks with Davia Nelson and Nikki Silva about the collection and their 40 year history of producing audio stories together. Stories featured and discussed include The Packhorse Librarians of Eastern Kentucky; The Birth of Rice A Roni; The Mohawk Iron Workers at the Twin Towers; and The Homobile—a Story of Transportation, Civil Rights and Glitter. The Kitchen Sisters have been working together since 1979 creating audio stories for NPR, public broadcast and their Kitchen Sisters’ Present podcast. They are the producers, with Jay Allison, of the Peabody Award winning series Lost & Found Sound and The Sonic Memorial Project, the DuPont Columbia Award winning series Hidden Kitchens, the NPR series Hidden World of Girls, and The Keepers, Stories of Activist Archivists, Rogue Librarians, Historians, Curators, Collectors — keepers of the culture and the free flow of information. The Kitchen Sisters Productions is supported by National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, California Humanities, Creative Work Fund, Robert Sillins Family Foundation, TRA Fund, Kaleta A. Doolin Foundation, Franklin Legacy Foundation, Susie Tompkins Buell Fund, and Listener Contributions to The Kitchen Sisters Productions. The Kitchen Sisters Present is part of PRX’s Radiotopia podcast network.
35 minutes | Dec 6, 2022
203 - A San Quentin Wedding
Edmond Richardson is an audio producer for Uncuffed, a KALW podcast produced by people in prison. Recently, Edmond and his love, Avelina, got married inside San Quentin and Uncuffed produced this story. The Kitchen Sisters are great admirers of KALW’s Uncuffed podcast and are proud to share this story. KALW, San Francisco, has led rehabilitative classes in audio production inside San Quentin State Prison since 2012, and Solano Prison since 2018. Their mission is to provide media training to people in the carceral system. Radio producers from KALW visit the prisons to teach classes in audio production, and to help edit the stories. Audio engineers at KALW do some final polishing before it goes out to the world. Special thanks to the Uncuffed crew at San Quentin Prison: Tommy Shakur Ross, Edmond Richardson, Thanh Tran, and me, Greg Eskridge. Thanks to the team at KALW Public Radio: Ninna Gaensler-Debs, Angela Johnston, Sonia Paul, James Rowlands, Andrew Stelzer, Ben Trefny, Eli Wirtschafter, and sound designer, Eric Maserati "E" Abercrombie. Theme music by David Jassy, the Swedish phenom. And thanks to the staff at San Quentin Prison who make this possible: Mr. Skylar Brown, Ms. Madeline Tenney, and Lieutenant Sam Robinson, who approved this episode. We fact checked everything to the best of our ability. And a special thanks to Avelina and Carla for being a part of this episode. And Edmond and Avelina, Uncuffed wishes you all the happiness in your marriage. Thanks for listening. Uncuffed gets support from the California Arts Council and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. The Kitchen Sisters Present is produced by The Kitchen Sisters (Davia Nelson & Nikki Silva) with Nathan Dalton and Brandi Howell. We are part of the Radiotopia podcast network from PRX. Special thanks to the National Endowment for the Arts and contributors to the non profit Kitchen Sisters Productions.
26 minutes | Nov 15, 2022
202 — Harvesting Wild Rice—White Earth Ojibwe Land Recovery Project
Each fall, the Ojibwe tribes of northern Minnesota harvest wild rice by hand. It’s a long process that begins with families in canoes venturing into the tall grasses, where rice is poled and gently brushed with knockers into the bed of the canoe. We journey to White Earth Reservation, out onto Big Rice Lake in a canoe, to see how one tribe is supporting itself and changing the diet of its people through community kitchen projects. And we talk with the founder of White Earth Land Recovery Project, Ojibwe leader, Winona LaDuke, about the land, her fight to save wild rice, GMOs, her family, philosophy, and her candidacy for vice president of the United States on the Green Party ticket with Ralph Nader. LaDuke is an Ojibwe leader, writer, food activist, rural development economist, environmentalist, Harvard graduate —and a force to be reckoned with. She’s the executive director of Honor the Earth, and most recently she was a leader at Standing Rock fighting the Dakota Access pipeline. When we visited Winona on the White Earth Reservation in 2004 for our Hidden Kitchens story Harvest on Big Rice Lake she spoke to us about her family, her life and work—and about how her Ojibwe father met her bohemian/artist/Jewish mother in New York City, how her dad went on to Hollywood to star in the Westerns and how he later became the New Age spiritual leader called Sun Bear. Born in Los Angeles and raised in Oregon, Winona moved to White Earth, her father’s reservation, after she graduated from Harvard in 1982. When she first arrived, she worked as the principal of the Reservation’s high school and became active in local issues. Seven years later, she started the non profit White Earth Land Recovery Project, dedicated to restoring the local economy and food systems and preserving wild rice. Today Winona LaDuke operates a 40-acre industrial hemp farm on the White Earth Indian Reservation with the idea of creating textiles for the people and the planet — of working towards a non petroleum based future. And she’s started 8th Fire Solar, operated by Anishinaabe, manufacturing solar thermal panels. “According to Anishinaabe prophecies, we are in the time of the Seventh Fire. At this time, it is said we have a choice between a path that is well-worn and scorched, and a path that is green and unworn. If we move toward the green path, the Eighth Fire will be lit and people will come together to make a better future.”
47 minutes | Nov 1, 2022
201- From Nashville to Nairobi: A History of County Western Music in Kenya
We trace the history of country music in Kenya, dating back to the 1920s and 30s when local populations first heard Jimmie Rodgers on early country western 78 records, to the current day, where the clubs of Nairobi are filled with rising stars bringing their own unique sounds to country music. Hear their takes on the hits of Don Williams, Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton and more. And an interview and performance from Kenyan country singer Steve Rogers, radio and TV presenters Catherine Ndonye and David Kimitho, music historian Elijah Wald, and Olvido Records founder Gordon Ashworth. The music and stories of other artists in this episode include: John Nzenze. Reuben Kigame, Don Williams, Sir Elvis, Sammy Ngaku-Rosana, Herbert Misango, Frances Rugwiti, Carlos Kiba, Ythera Cowgirl, Steve Rogers, HM Karuiki, Joseph Kamaru. Produced by Brandi Howell for Afropop Worldwide The Kitchen Sisters Present is produced by The Kitchen Sisters (Nikki Silva & Davia Nelson) with Brandi Howell and Nathan Dalton. Support comes from the National Endowment for the Arts and contributors to the non-profit Kitchen Sisters Productions. The Kitchen Sisters Present is part of the Radiotopia Network from PRX.
37 minutes | Oct 18, 2022
200 - Manny’s: A Civic Gathering Place
As elections loom, we need to get involved, step up to the civic plate, take part in discourse. And that’s what Manny Yekutiel has been driven to do since 2018. He’s created a community-focused meeting place in San Francisco — a gathering space for people to watch presidential debates, meet people working on the front lines of social change, and discuss issues with policy makers in person. From community forums debating the new trash can designs in San Francisco, to town hall meetings with political candidates for the Senate and the Presidency, Manny’s is place to commune, listen, and be heard. They’ve got a restaurant — Farming Hope, a non-profit that hires formerly homeless and formerly incarcerated individuals and trains them in the food skills needed to work in the restaurant industry. They’ve got a bookstore specializing in local history and politics — with no pressure to buy books. During the pandemic when every restaurant in town was building parklets on the street, Manny’s built a long string of outdoor booths, where instead of serving food, they ran a highly organized ‘Get Out the Vote’ campaign with citizens flocking to their parklet to text and phone bank for the 2020 Election. As church basements and social clubs fade as places where young people feel comfortable gathering, Manny has created a place — not home, not work — but a ‘third place’ where people can come together to meet and engage with civic leaders, elected officials, artists, and activists. Thanks to Precious Green and to the staff of Farming Hope. Thanks also to Valerie Velardi who led us to Manny’s, and to Manny Yekutiel for the time and the vision. The Kitchen Sisters Present is part of the Radiotopia from PRX, a network of hand crafted, independent, vibrant podcasts that widen your world.
31 minutes | Oct 4, 2022
199 - Linda Ronstadt: Feels Like Home - A Song for the Sonoran Borderlands
The legendary Linda Ronstadt has a new book out. Feels Like Home: A Song for the Sonoran Borderlands — a historical, musical, edible memoir that spans the story of five generations of Linda’s Mexican American German family, from the Sonoran desert in Mexico to the Ronstadt family hardware store in Tucson to the road that led Linda to LA and musical stardom. Intimate and epic, "this is little Linda, Mexican Linda, cowgirl Linda, desert Linda." The book, written in collaboration with New York Times writer Lawrence Downes, is a road trip through the Sonoran Borderlands, from Tucson to Banámichi, Mexico — the path Linda’s immigrant grandfather took at a time when the border was not a place of peril but of possibility. We went to see Linda at home to ask her about the journey. This story was produced by The Kitchen Sisters (Davia Nelson & Nikki Silva) and Evan Jacoby in collaboration with Brandi Howell and Nathan Dalton. Mixed by Jim McKee Thanks to Lawrence Downes, John Boylan, Bill Steen, Janet Stark and The PRX Podcast Garage. And to the team at Heyday Books: Steve Wasserman, Kalie Caetano & Megan Beatie and to Putamayo Music who just released Feels Like Home: Songs From The Sonoran Borderlands, Linda Ronstadt’s Musical Odyssey. Special thanks to Linda Ronstadt for opening her home and her vault to this story.
36 minutes | Sep 20, 2022
198 - The Real Ambassadors: Dave Brubeck, Iola Brubeck, and Louis Armstrong
The story of The Real Ambassadors, a jazz musical created by Dave Brubeck and Iola Brubeck for Louis Armstrong in the 1950/60s—a poignant tale of cultural exchange, anti-racism, jazz history, and it’s a love story—between life-long husband and wife partners, Iola and Dave Brubeck and their vision for a better world. The original show, featured Louis Armstrong, Carmen McCrae, Dave Brubeck and Lambert Hendricks and Bavan, and was performed live only once, at the Monterey Jazz Festival in 1962. This year’s Monterey Jazz Festival, September 23-25, 2022, is the 60th Anniversary of the performance. The musical is based on the Jazz Ambassadors Program established by President Eisenhower and the US State Department during the Cold War as an effort to win hearts and minds around the world. Jazz musicians were sent out to represent the freedom and creativity of America through their art form. The irony is that Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie and most of the other Jazz Ambassadors were Black—they were treated like royalty around the world, but could not stay in hotels or play in integrated bands in their own country. The Brubeck’s musical was a chance for Louis Armstrong to speak out about his deep feelings about racism and segregation in this country — feelings he rarely expressed publicly. The story features original music, rare archival recorded letters back and forth between the Brubecks and Louis Armstrong about the project, rehearsal recordings and interviews with Dave and Iola Brubeck. Other voices include: the Brubeck’s sons, Chris and Dan Brubeck; Keith Hatschek, author of newly released book, "The Real Ambassadors;” Ricky Riccardi, Director of Research Collections for the Louis Armstrong House Museum; and singer/actress Yolande Bavan, the last surviving performer involved in the project. Thanks to: Keith Hatschek, Chris, Brubeck, Dan Brubeck, Ricky Riccardi, Yolande Bavan, Lisa Cohen, and Wynton Marsalis. Special thanks to: The Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation and the Louis Armstrong House Museum; Michael Bellacosa and the Brubeck Collection, Wilton Library, Wilton, Connecticut; The Complete Louis Armstrong Columbia & RCA Victor Studio Sessions 1946-66 Mosaic Records 270; The Milken Family Foundation Archive Oral History Project; and The Library of Congress. The Real Ambassadors was produced by The Kitchen Sisters (Nikki Silva and Davia Nelson) and Brandi Howell in collaboration with Jackson Spenner. Mixed by Jim McKee.
36 minutes | Sep 6, 2022
197 - What Fire Reveals: Stories from the Amah Mutsun, Big Basin and the Lightning Fires in the Santa Cruz Mountains
In the early morning hours of August 16, 2020, 12,000 lightning strikes exploded across northern California, igniting more than 585 wildfires. In the Santa Cruz Mountains scattered blazes grew into one massive burning organism — The CZU August Lightning Complex Fire — eating all in its path, scorching some 86,000 acres, destroying over 900 homes and Big Basin, California’s first state park. We hear from young men and women from the Amah Mutsun Tribal band who have been working to clear and steward the land; archaeologists and historians from the historic Big Basin redwood State Park; and from residents of the Santa Cruz mountains who shared their experiences and stories for the historical record. This story grew out of a collaboration with the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History. People who lost their homes in the blaze were invited to bring in artifacts sifted from the ashes to be photographed by award winning photographer Shmuel Thaler and to be interviewed by The Kitchen Sisters about the fire, their homes, the environment, their lives. For more stories, photos and a video about the fires and this project visit kitchensisters.org. Special thanks to: Valentin Lopez, Chairman of the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band; Mark Hylkema, Cultural Resources Program Manager, Tribal Liaison, Archeologist, CA State Parks Santa Cruz District; Martin Rizzo Martinez, Historian, CA State Parks Santa Cruz District; Jennifer Daly, Museum Collections Manager, CA State Parks, Santa Cruz District; Dana Frank, Professor of History, UCSC; Members of The Amah Mutsun Land Trust and Stewardship Program; and all of the many who shared their stories for the historical record. With support from The California Humanities and The National Endowment for the Arts. Produced by The Kitchen Sisters (Nikki Silva & Davia Nelson) and mixed by Jim McKee in collaboration with Grace Rubin, Brandi Howell and Nathan Dalton. In collaboration with photographer Shmuel Thaler and The Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History,
41 minutes | Aug 16, 2022
196 - Afghan Women Refugees in America (Rebroadcast)
In August, 2021, a group of young Afghan women journalists, musicians and activists fled their country in fear for their lives when the Taliban took over their nation. These women are navigating life today in the US. Many of these women were well known in their country as TV personalities, women wearing western clothing, their hair uncovered, who interviewed women and men on the popular morning news shows. “My background in the TV was one of biggest reasons for them to kill me,” says Taban Ibraz. “To do anything they want to do with me like they did with a lot of women in Afghanistan. They were targeting us.” Maryam Yousifi, journalist and clothing designer remembers, “I saw that my mother's crying. And she's saying that we have to hide you somewhere. We can’t keep you here because people knows our address. She gave me a hijab and she said, please wear this. She never told me that never, ever. She never told me that what should I wear.” The women were assisted by the nonprofit, Restore Her Voice, set up to help Afghan women, who had been in media or the arts, get out of Afghanistan and to help support them once they arrived in the United States. Special thanks to Taban Ibraz, Anaitza Walizada, Maryam Yousifi, Helal Massomi, Elham Karimi, Marika Partridge, Lori Davis, Ed James and Ajmal Subat. Thanks also to The Daily Antidote Podcast. Special thanks to writer and photographer Valerie Plesch for her article and photographs in the DCist that inspired this story. Thanks to the National Endowment for the Arts, The Kaleta Doolin Foundation, The Texas Women's Foundation and listener contributions to The Kitchen Sisters Productions for the funding that makes these stories possible. The Kitchen Sisters Present... is part of Radiotopia, an independent, story driven, carefully crafted podcast network from PRX.
47 minutes | Aug 2, 2022
195 - Sheikh Imam: Egypt's Voice of Dissent
A blind oud player from humble beginnings, Sheikh Imam’s destiny changed drastically when he met a dissident poet called Ahmed Fouad Negm in 1960s Cairo, and they formed a duo. Together, they would go on start a new era in Egyptian popular music. Their songs would shake regimes, travel the world on cassette tapes, and transcend their own time to become part of the soundtrack to Egypt’s revolution decades later. And they managed all of this while dealing with constant harassment by the state - including long periods in prison. The story features two historians, one of Sheikh Imam’s collaborators, and a university lecturer who’s parents used to host Sheikh Imam’s concerts in their living room. The songs in this episode were composed and performed by Sheikh Imam and written by Ahmed Fouad Negm and Zein Alabidin Fouad. Lyric translations by Ahmed Hassan and Elliott Colla. This episode was produced by Kerning Cultures Podcast—Nadeen Shaker, Heba El-Sherif, and Alex Atack, and edited by Dana Ballout. Fact checking was by Deena Sabry and sound design, music, and mixing by Monzer El Hachem. Voice over by Eihab Seoudi, and translation help from Maha El Kady. Cover art by Ahmad Salhab. Many thanks to Kerning Cultures / Stories from the Middle East, North Africa, and the spaced in between.
35 minutes | Jul 19, 2022
194 - From Pinoy to Punk — The Rise of the Mabuhay Gardens
Originally a Filipino restaurant and music club, The Mabuhay Gardens in San Francisco’s North Beach transformed into a mecca for Bay Area punk and New Wave bands in the 1970s and 80s. The Avengers, the Nuns, The Dead Kennedys, Pearl Harbor and the Explosions, The Tubes, and so many others performed regularly at the club on Broadway. As the original Mabuhay Gardens, which featured Filipino celebrities and musical acts, fell on hard times, promoter Dirk Dirksen convinced club owner Ness Aquino to let him book bands on Monday and Tuesday nights. Soon the nights expanded and the club was packing in a growing young punk rock audience. Dirkson, the “Pope of Punk“ was the abrasive MC, whose insults baited the audience to heighten the energy of the club. He lured in big names like Nico, The Dead Boys, Patti Smith, the Runaways and connected the Mabuhay Gardens with the English punk scene helping to spread punk rock globally. “To play, you need a place – be it where you live, the street, a venue. For unrestricted play, you need an unrestricted playground. Dirk Dirksen envisioned The Fab Mab just as such a playground. Without him and The Mab, there might not have been the great punk scene in the late 1970s in San Francisco. The San Francisco punk scene was fun. I miss it. But as Iggy Pop said, ‘Let’s Sing.'” — Mindy Bagdon Special thanks to Denise Demise Dunne, Liz Keim, Penelope Houston, Ron Greco, John Seabury, V Vale, Janet Clyde, and Kathy Peck. The archival interview with Dirk Dirksen is from Vale's RE/Search Conversations 13. We would like to dedicate this story to Mindy Bagdon (1934-2022), who brought warmth and kindness to every community he touched throughout his many years in San Francisco. Produced by Brandi Howell with production support from Mary Franklin Harvin.