Black History Month Specials 2013

Click on this post for a complete list of specials

Sam Cooke: Bring it on Home Special
Airs Friday, February 15 at 9 p.m.

This documentary details the life and music of Sam Cooke through his own recordings and commentary his friends, family and friends. This program features music from throughout his career that displays the great breadth of his talent before his tragic death in 1964 at the age of 33 - from his gospel roots to his upbeat classic hits, and from his high energy live concerts to his recordings of late-night mood pieces. Interview subjects include R&B legend Bobby Womack, Sam's brother L.C. Cooke, and drummer Hal Blaine.

Buddy Guy: Can't Quit the Blues
Airs Friday, February 15 at 10 p.m.

     Brand new one-hour music intensive radio special features legendary bluesman Buddy Guy in his own words and music. Buddy Guy's own comments come from an exclusive interview session, and include many recollections and insights that will heard on your station for the first time.
     Hosted by journalist Anthony DeCurtis, this program also features 15 classic tracks from throughout Guy's career. Buddy Guy tells his own story, looking back on his life and career as only he can. He begins the story with his poor, sharecropping roots in Lettsworth, LA, and guides up through all his stops along the way to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame - the first time he met the blues on a John Lee Hooker record, the birth of his trademark guitar style while regularly jamming for customers at a gas station, his explosion on the Chicago blues scene, his influence on many of rock's great guitarists (Clapton, Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Rolling Stones, John Mayer and many more), and much more.
     Throughout "Can't Quit the Blues," Buddy Guy opens up and reveals himself as a man with a soul as great as his musical skills. He is extremely grateful to all those who helped him along the way, and always happy to share his knowledge with those inspired by him. At 70 years-old, he continues to live a great life; always thankful of how he came to be one of the world's great blues guitarists.
     "If I had my life to live over," he says, "I would come back the same road that I came and pick up the acoustic guitar and hope to make somebody happy and smile."
      * Host: Anthony DeCurtis (Rolling Stone) * Producer: Joyride Media (Paul Chuffo, Joshua Jackson)

The Harlem Renaissance
Airs Saturday, February 16 at 8:00 p.m.

     As musicians migrated north following the close of Storyville, New Orleans infamous red-light district, many found their way to the newly revitalized city on the north shore of the Harlem River. This program features a cross section of their music and stories.

Heavenly Sight: Blind Gospel Singers
Airs Saturday, February 16 at 9 p.m.

     Despite disability, poverty, isolation and prejudice, a surprising number of blind African American musicians who came from the gospel tradition influenced not just gospel music, but blues, bluegrass, and American vernacular music up to and beyond rock and roll. Using narrative, archival audio, interviews, scholarly commentary and music, Heavenly Sight tells this little known story through broadcast and a comprehensive, interactive web site.
     In the early decades of the twentieth century, blind African American gospel musicians tended to come out of two broad sources: institutions including segregated schools for the blind, and the itinerant rural songster tradition. The Blind Boys of Alabama and Ray Charles epitomize successful performers who came from institutions. Their path is paralleled, in a limited way, by the career of Blind Willie Johnson, a best-selling gospel singer and guitarist who predated them. He points the story in another direction—the rural Southern countryside, where African American gospel singing had its roots.  Heavenly Sight explores the music that evolved from these two distinct sources, and looks at how these two musical streams influenced the direction of American music.
     We spotlight lesser-known performers like Flora Molton—who survived by singing on the streets of Washington DC and became an anti-war activist--and Reverend Gary Davis whose “holy blues” influenced Ry Cooder and Bob Dylan. Heavenly Sight ranges beyond the music to tell stories about the everyday lives of these performers. David Bromberg recalls the sometimes-harrowing task of assisting Reverend Davis: “..his guitars were constantly being stolen from him.  As soon as he woke up, the first thing he did was draw a pistol.”
     The story of Blind Willie Johnson takes us into the future. Years after his death, his iconic “Dark was the Night” went into space on the Voyager probe's Golden Record, an obscure blind black man's music representing the human race.

Maya Angelou Black History Month Special
Airs Sunday, February 17 at 6 p.m.

     This hour-long Black History Month radio program features milestone conversations with Maya Angelou and lauded African Americans who tell the stories of a culture through the entertainment industry, award-winning music, opportunities for philanthropy and the pursuit of peace. Join a Grammy, Emmy, Academy Award, Golden Globe and Nobel Prize winning group of voices with the poetic, historical commentary of Maya Angelou.
     -Oprah Winfrey, Television Personality, Philanthropist, Emmy Winner, Television Network Owner, speaks on ownership; the importance of her latest role in the film, The Butler; and the changing climate of the entertainment industry.
     -Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the United Nations 1997- 2006, Nobel Peace Prize Winner 2001, speaks about the need for continued talks on peace, as well as his memoir, Interventions A Life in War and Peace.
     - Jennifer Hudson, Oscar and Golden Globe winner, recalls her rise from an urban neighborhood to providing help for that community and others, and using the voice she found and developed to take her around the world.
     - Regina Taylor, Golden Globe-winning actress and playwright, talks about how generations are bridged from the writer's pen and the ability to display social issues as well as the depth of family on the stage and screen.
     -Alicia Keys, multiple Grammy Award winner and philanthropist, talks about the changing roles of the entertainer as entertaining and using the empowerment of voice or other talents with action in the local and international community.

Wynton Marsalis in Conversation
Airs Monday, February 18 at 9 pm

Wynton Marsalis marks 25 years at the helm of Jazz at Lincoln Center during the 2012-13 Season. To celebrate this milestone, Marsalis sat down with Elliott Forrest, the Peabody Award-winning radio host and producer of WQXR and WNYC. In this rare long-form intimate conversation, they talk about the early days of JALC, how the trumpet found Marsalis, the very different roles his parents played in his life, the history of Jazz, music education and, in a one-of-a-kind demonstration, Marsalis recreates the playing styles of other trumpeters, including Clark Terry, Miles Davis and others. The event from which this radio special was created was held on June 5, 2012 in The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space, for a live web and studio audience and included two performances by Marsalis with members of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra playing “Comes Love (Nothing Can Be Done)” and “Free To Be." The Musicians:    Wynton Marsalis, trumpet; Walter Blanding, saxophone; Dan Nimmer, piano; Carlos Henriquez, bass; Willie Jones, III, drums.

Let Freedom Ring: The Music of the Abolitionists
Airs Tuesday, February 19 at 11 a.m.

     Let Freedom Sing chronicles the idealistic artists, uncompromising personalities and powerful music of the era, and looks at how these forces combined to turn abolitionism from a scorned fringe movement into a nation-changing force. This one-hour special will be hosted by  Noah Adams .
     “Any good crusade requires singing,” reformers like to say, and in the 19th century, no cause was more righteous than the decades-long crusade to abolish slavery.  An original WGBH-Classical New England production hosted by Noah Adams, Let Freedom Sing will profile such powerful figures as Henry Russell, the barnstorming Anglo-Jewish pianist and singer dubbed the master of “chutzpah and huzzah;” the Milford, New Hampshire-based Hutchinson Family Singers, remembered as America’s first protest singers; and abolitionist leader and newspaper publisher William Lloyd Garrison, whose “Song of the Abolitionist” (set to the tune of “Auld Lang Syne”) literally set the tone for the entire movement. Garrison believed strongly in setting stanzas to familiar melodies—for poetry, he held, was “naturally and instinctively on the side of liberty.”
     And the program will explain how “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee” evolved from a patriotic ditty penned in a half-hour by Reverend Samuel Francis Smith to a stirring anthem of equality famously sung by Marian Anderson in 1939 on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial…and reprised by Aretha Franklin on the West Lawn of the US Capitol for the inauguration of President Barack Obama in 2009.

Live Time on The Quilts Of Gee's Bend
Airs Wednesday, February 20 at 9 p.m.
Jason Moran, the new Artistic Advisor for Jazz, ushers in his era at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC, with his suite “Live:Time On the Quilts of Gee’s Bend,” offered by JazzSet for Black History Month.  “Live:Time” was commissioned by the Philadelphia Museum of Art for an exhibition of quilts made by a remarkable group of African-American women in a small rural community in Alabama.

Langston Hughes: I Too Sing America
Airs Thursday, February 21 at 9 p.m.
     Langston Hughes, an enduring icon of the Harlem Renaissance, is best-known for his written work, which wedded his fierce dedication to social justice with his belief in the transformative power of the word. But he was a music lover, too, and some of the works he was most proud of were collaborations with composers and musicians.
     Hosted by Terrance McKnight, WQXR host and former Morehouse professor of music, I, Too, Sing America will dive into the songs, cantatas, musicals and librettos that flowed from Hughes’ pen. As he did with his poetry, Hughes used music to denounce war, combat segregation and restore human dignity in the face of Jim Crow. His musical adventures included writing lyrics for stage pieces such as Black Nativity and Tambourines to Glory, works that helped give birth to the genre of Gospel Play, as well as songs for radio plays and political campaigns, and the libretto for Kurt Weill’s Street Songs.

Say it Loud: Great Speeches on Civil Rights and African American Identity
Airs Sunday, February 24 at 6 p.m.

"Say It Loud" traces the last 50 years of black history through stirring, historically important speeches by African Americans from across the political spectrum. With recordings unearthed from libraries and sound archives, and made widely available here for the first time, "Say It Loud" includes landmark speeches by Malcolm X, Lorraine Hansberry, Angela Davis, Martin Luther King Jr., Henry Louis Gates, and many others.