Airs Friday, February 28 at 11 p.m. Insightful review of the life of legendary blues guitarist Robert Johnson and his enduring musical legacy. Includes 20 of his legendary recordings and brand-new, exclusive interviews with contemporary blues musicians and historians.
Airs Friday, February 28 at 10 p.m. Zydeco Nation is an hour-long, music-rich documentary that tells the story about an epic chapter in modern American history. Starting during World War II, French-speaking Louisiana Creoles began moving across the country to Northern California in search of both jobs and freedom. They were part of the Great Migration: the movement of six million African Americans from the Jim Crow South to the big cities of the West, North, and Midwest starting in 1915. In her recent bestseller The Warmth of Other Suns, Isabel Wilkerson calls that migration “the first big step the nation’s servant class ever took without asking.” The Creoles came from the rice and cane fields of South Louisiana and East Texas. The Oakland area offered shipyard jobs and the promise of better futures—so off they went. They brought with them the musical soundtrack to their lives back home. It was a bluesy, French-inspired, dance music played on the accordion and washboard. They called it zydeco—from the French word for green beans.
Airs Friday, February 28 at 9 p.m. Crescent City Blues takes listeners to the hidden world of New Orleans corner joints—bars far from the French Quarter, in neighborhoods like Central City, Treme, and Pigeontown. These clubs, patronized almost entirely by locals, nurture a resilient blues and rhythm-and-blues scene that is often overshadowed by the Crescent City’s legacy as a jazz town. They are an essential part of New Orleans’ cultural history, but they are struggling—because of the recession, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and potentially the BP oil spill.
Airs Tuesday, February 25 at 9 p.m. Hosted by Charles Dutton, this one-hour special examines the relevance and meaning of civil rights in the 21st century and the relationship between the Civil Rights Movement and the efforts of women, other people of color, and the LGBT community to expand our traditional definitions of equality. Like “Moments of the Movement” it features first-person narratives culled from hundreds of hours of never-before-broadcast video and audio footage to provide a rich, detailed history of the nation during an important and tumultuous period.
Airs Monday, February 24 at 11 p.m. Nina Simone was as powerful and complex a person as the music she played. She called it “Black Classical Music,” and it resists all definitions. Its jazz, rhythm and blues, folk, and gospel. It’s a combination as Rich as the culture. Like any legend, Nina Simone became a symbol for People and movements through the years, but she was first and foremost a performer. She acted out the story of each song as if it happened to her just yesterday. This hour we’ll hear about the music and life of Nina Simone from colleagues and friends including Odetta, Camille Yarbrough, Guitarist Al Schackman, Patti Smith journalist David Nathan and more.