Use the 'play' button to explore some of my work in radio at both WNYC and WQXR

THE JONATHAN CHANNEL

Lena Horne is remembered as a glamorous star of the silver screen. But those years in Hollywood were not always easy for the star. James Gavin, author of Lena Horne's biography, Stormy Weather, guides us through Horne's Hollywood career. 

As part of the Centennial Celebration of Ella Fitzgerald, I spoke with some young singers and students about their perception of the First Lady of Song. They had quite a bit to say about their favorite recordings, her popularity, the challenges she faced as a woman of color in the 50's and 60's. Overall it was clear that each of them understood the impact Ella Fitzgerald had on the world of music.

When the writer and performer Carl Hancock Rux was growing up in Harlem, his parents would regale him with stories of the early days uptown, including anecdotes about the First Lady of Song.

When Ella Fitzgerald moved to Harlem at age 15, she was just another neighborhood girl singing on the streets. As the story goes, her life changed after a performance at Amateur Night at the Apollo, where she dazzled the largest audience she'd ever performed for.

Rux recounts the story of her ascendance through the eyes of his parents and shares some of his favorite recordings of Ella including her appearance in the Elvis and Costello film, Ride 'Em Cowboy.

The Naked American Songbook

WQXR

This segment features a compilation of interviews with WQXR’s Artist-in-Residence: the award-winning Brooklyn Youth Chorus. Before the Chorus' final Greene Space concert this past March — celebrating the release of their first albumBlack Mountain Songs — I spoke to a few members of the choir to hear about their individual journeys within the ensemble and how music has changed them.

With their trademark musical versatility, this advanced youth ensemble illuminates the story of North Carolina’s Black Mountain College — a progressive educational environment that housed great thinkers amidst the backdrop of the Jim Crow era. With the Chorus’ emphasis on social awareness and individual empowerment, each member has specific insights into what the music means to them and can mean to society at large.

 

THE TAKEAWAY

On September 12th at 9:00 AM Pacific, jazz artist Esperanza Spalding headed into the studio to record her new album. However, instead of going in with songs prepared and arranged, the entire session was improvised.

Before she went into record, the Grammy award-winning singer and songwriter discussed some of the influences and inspiration behind her improvisational experiment. 

This segment is hosted by Todd Zwillich.

Kathryn Bigelow’s latest film, "Detroit," goes into wide release this weekend, and has already spurred praise and controversy from film critics and writers.

The Academy Award-winning director, known for successfully translating real-life tragedies into high art, with war movies like "Zero Dark Thirty" and "The Hurt Locker," chronicles the uprising of black residents in Detroit in the late 1960s against a mostly-white police regime.

Three guests from different walks of life gathered at The Takeaway to analyze the film's portrayal of history, the absence of African-American women, and its impact on modern-day police brutality.

Dr. Scott Kurashige is author of "The Fifty Year Rebellion: How the US Political Crisis Began in Detroit."

Lisa Biggs is a playwright, whose play "AFTER/LIFE" hones in on the role of women who participated and survived the rebellion in Detroit.

And Cody Salfen, a licensed private investigator and attorney in California.

This segment is hosted by Todd Zwillich. 

Indie stalwarts Spoon released their ninth album, "Hot Thoughts," this spring to good reviews.

Spoon was formed in 1993 by lead singer and guitarist Britt Daniel, and drummer Jim Eno. Here, The Takeaway talks with Daniel about the album, what it means for a band to have their music in TV and advertisements, and the group's latest tour.

This segment is hosted by Todd Zwillich.