Arts & Culture

Arts and culture

Elaine Neil Orr
nigerianfaithful.org

Elaine Neil Orr was born and raised in Nigeria, the daughter of Baptist Missionaries. When she began writing her memoir about 10 years ago, her mother gave her a keepsake – the 1853 diary of the first Baptist Missionary in Nigeria. This artifact spoke to Orr, and it was the inspiration for her first novel, “A Different Sun: A Novel of Africa” (Berkley Trade/2013).

Chris Benfey
mtholyoke.edu

Several years ago, Chris Benfey decided to write a traditional memoir. He soon realized, however, that his family was anything but traditional. His new book, “Red Brick, Black Mountain, White Clay” (Penguin/2012), is part memoir, part history, part archeology.

It tells the stories of his ancestors’ work as bricklayers, his father’s escape from Nazi Germany and his great aunt and uncle’s pivotal role in the founding of Black Mountain College. Chris Benfey is a Professor of English at Mount Holyoke College. He joins Host Frank Stasio to discuss his family’s North Carolina stories.

Jim Minz
ktempest, via Flickr.com, Creative Commons

Jim Minz’s childhood in small-town West Bend, Wisconsin prepared him for two things: game shows and science fiction.

West Bend was home to the West Bend Company – the maker of small appliances which were regularly featured as consolation prize on game shows.

John Anton, bar manager at Mandolin
courtesty of John Anton

If you’ve never heard of pisco, then you're not alone. But  Mandolin bar manager John Anton hopes to change that.  He wants to introduce pisco – a Peruvian grape brandy – to people in the Raleigh area willing to give it a go, and he believes that a trip to Peru to witness the makers of the spirit can help him do it. Anton will head to the Peruvian town of Ica next month, courtesy of pisco-maker Campo de Encanto, to watch a 90-year-old master pisco distiller in action.

A chimpanzee eats treats from inside a papier-mâché egg at the North Carolina Zoo.
Zoo photo by Tom Gillespie

Who says animals can’t participate in an Easter egg hunt? This weekend, while thousands of children across the state hunt for candy-filled Easter eggs, the North Carolina Zoo will give its animals their own egg hunt.

The “Egg-Stravaganza” begins Saturday morning, and it involves zookeepers putting papier-mâché eggs filled with animal treats inside the animals' living spaces. Some of the lucky creatures that will be getting eggs include gorillas, elephants, ocelots, Red River hogs, seals, bears, and a cougar.

Raleigh Bishop Michael Burbidge
Frank Morock

There are so many Catholics in North Carolina these days, it’s hard to keep count.  Those who are keeping count say numbers have jumped 300 percent in a generation. The Diocese of Raleigh is growing so fast it plans to break ground on a 2,000-seat cathedral next year.  For now, if you plan on attending mass this Easter Sunday, you better get up early or you’ll likely be having service at an overflow site at the Clarion Hotel.  Or, you’ll just have to stand.

npr.org

During Superstorm Sandy, the HMS Bounty - a 180 foot, three-masted, wooden ship - was tossed about helplessly in the middle of a raging storm. Two members of the ship's crew died, and the remaining 14 members had to be dramatically rescued by the Coast Guard. A member of the Coast Guard snapped this photograph on his phone from a helicopter that day:

Greensboro skyline
Scott Moore, Flickr, Creative Commons

Greensboro may have just gained a new downtown grocery storeand hosted this year's ACC Basketball Tournament, but according to some, it is still lacking in one area: sexiness. A new study from the online travel-dating site MissTravel.com dubs Greensboro as the number one least sexy city in America.

Jill McCorkle
Tom Rankin

Jill McCorkle's first novel in 17 years, “Life After Life” (Algonquin/ 2013), is set in a retirement community. There, the dying grapple with life and death in humorous, dark turns. One character moved to the area to be close to the grave of her former lover. Another fakes dementia to avoid having to deal with his adult son. Jill McCorkle joins host Frank Stasio to talk about her newest work.

Keith Weston
MelShoots

Every weekend it's my pleasure on Back Porch Music to share with you scores of selections from WUNC's wide-ranging folk music library.  It's always a musical adventure that I often find surprising and inspiring myself - and I hope you do, too. From fiddle tunes to singer-songwriters, the term "folk" applies to such a large range of sounds and textures.

The first page of the Carolina Charter of 1663.
N.C. State Archives

People interested in the history of North Carolina can see the front page of the Carolina Charter on display today in Raleigh.  The 350-year-old old document represents the land grant from the King of England to eight of his closest friends and allies who helped him when he was restored to the throne. 

Carl Kasell at a WUNC event in 2007.
Dave Horne/Flickr

At their most recent Annual Meeting, The North Carolina Press Association named Carl Kasell the 2013 North Carolinian of the Year.

Originally from Goldsboro, Kasell is known for his life-long career in radio broadcasting. He also helped found WUNC while in college at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  Kasell spent 30 years as a newscaster for National Public Radio’s Morning Edition, and he currently works on the popular radio news quiz show Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!, in addition to being an ambassador for NPR.

Carolina in the Morning
Johns Hopkins University, The Lester S. Levy Collection of Sheet Music

If you’ve ever attended a public event or high school choir performance in North or South Carolina, chances are you’ve heard the song “Carolina in The Morning.” But which Carolina does the iconic tune refer to?

Andy Griffith
andygriffith.org

Less than one year after Andy Griffith’s death, his widow intends to raze the house where he once lived with his family. According to friends, Griffith had hoped the house would be turned into a museum.

Cindi Griffith received a demolition permit from Dare County on Monday. The house that she intends to tear down is not the large one that she and Andy built recently, but a smaller one on Roanoke Island that Andy Griffith bought in the 1950’s.

Tokyo Rosenthal
tokyorosenthal.com

Tokyo Rosenthal is an Americana musician. And while Americana might be a traditional sort of music, Tokyo Rosenthal isn’t your traditional artist.

His sound combines rock, country and blues, and his songs revolve around issues of social justice. Host Frank Stasio talks to him about his newest album, and Tokyo Rosenthal plays live in the studio.

South Carolina Historical Society

Three hundred years ago this week, European colonialists in what is now eastern North Carolina fought a battle that devastated an American Indian tribe. A symposium at East Carolina University marks the anniversary of the 1713 battle, in which European settlers attacked a stronghold of the Tuscarora tribe called Fort Nooherooka.  Nearly a thousand Tuscarora Indians were captured or killed, forcing the remaining tribe members to migrate to New York. 

brucepiephoff.net

Bruce Piephoff began writing songs in Greensboro in the 1960s, and 22 albums later he's making music here today. He's found music one of the best vehicles to tell a story, and he'll tell you that Greensboro is full of stories. He and electric guitarist Scott Sawyer talk to host Frank Stasio and play live at the Upstage Cabaret at the Triad Stage.

http://www.craignova.com

Author Craig Nova's life as a reader has left him wanting to fill in the gaps in contemporary fiction. Nova notes that he's witnessed a decline in loving male characters. In his latest novel, "The Constant Heart" (Counterpoint/2012), he attempts to fill in this gap. “The Constant Heart” was recently celebrated as part of the New Yorker's "Best Books of 2012" list. Craig Nova is an author and a professor in the humanities at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He joins Host Frank Stasio live at the Triad Stage to discuss the themes behind "The Constant Heart."

The Royal Hawaiian Quintet Performing on the U.S. Mainland
University of Hawaii at Manoa Library, via flickr, creative commons

  

The sound of American Country music owes much of it's success to an unlikely source: the 19th century Hawaiian music scene. Hawaiian music at that time was dominated by the steel guitar. During the instrument's century-long international migration, it influenced the direction of many genres.

Duke.edu

Wangechi Mutu's life-size collages attempt to bring the Black female body to the forefront of her work. It is inspired by the complex power she's seen in women, particularly from her native Kenya. Not only are they enormous, but the figures are also mystical and powerful.

Spanish catechism for the Catholic Church
book cover, amazon.com

Today, Pope Francis officially became the 266th Pope for the Catholic Church, and the first representative of the New World. The 265 men who served before him were all European, but Pope Francis was born in Argentina, where he continued to serve until the church tapped him for the top job in Rome.

Brittany Darst

A new exhibit at UNC Chapel Hill aims to challenge the way people think about the word "disability." It's a collection of photos and narratives written by students called "This Able Life." UNC junior Katie Savage founded the campus group, Advocates for Carolina. She says she hopes the exhibit will help dissolve the stigma often associated with disability and transform the word into something celebratory that empowers and inspires.

James Beard Foundation
James Beard Foundation

More than a dozen North Carolina restaurants and chefs earned a spot on the James Beard Award semifinalist list this year, but only one is advancing to the nominee (finalist) category: Ashley Christensen of Poole’s Diner in Raleigh. Christensen was nominated for Best Chef: Southeast, a position she shares with four other chefs in the region. Here is her reaction on twitter this morning:

fresh peas
courtesy of Andrea Reusing

Like a few others in the Triangle, Andrea Reusing found out she was a James Beard semi-finalist on Twitter.  But of the 13 semi-finalists in North Carolina this year, Andrea Reusing of Lantern is the only one to have ever won the award before.

gravyboys.com / Christer Berg Photography

The Americana music of The Gravy Boys hit the scene about eight years ago. They’re now three albums in and expanding their acoustic sound. Their newest album is called Crackerjack Whistle, and they’ll be playing in Raleigh tomorrow night.

Phoebe Lawless
Lissa Gotwals

People who bake pies for a living usually do so because they love it. Not to win awards. So when Phoebe Lawless of Scratch bakery learned recently that the James Beard Foundation named her a semi-finalist for Outstanding Pastry Chef – an honor she shares with only 19 others in the country – she was thoroughly shocked.   “I certainly did not expect to find myself on the list,” she said.  Lawless learned of the honor while at home on her couch, when someone mentioned it on Twitter.  

http://fy.wikipedia.org/wiki/Etty_Hillesum

  Out of the varied horrors of the Holocaust, a body of literature survives.  The most famous voice belongs to Anne Frank.  At 15-years-old, she wrote, “I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart.”  It's hard to believe that anyone, even a child, can be so big-hearted. 

Less well-known is the voice of an adult woman, Etty Hillesum.  And her writing is finally getting its day in the sun.

Bolton Anthony
secondjourney.org

Baby boomers are coming of retirement age at a rapid pace. The ordinary path forward would be golf, retirement homes and taking it easy, but Bolton Anthony, founder of Chapel Hill non-profit Second Journey, wants to change that conception of old age. He wants the hippies of the ‘60s to become the idealists of the new millennium.

Host Frank Stasio talks to Bolton Anthony about his ideas for changing retirement.

Fullsteam's First Frost persimmon ale
Fullsteam

Like last year, Sean Lilly Wilson of the Durham brewery Fullsteam found out that he was on the list of 2013 James Beard Award semi-finalists via Twitter.  And he thought it was a mistake.  His reaction?  “Profound disbelief,” he says.  Wilson’s Fullsteam made the semi-finalist list for the Outstanding Wine, Spirits, or Beer Professional Award, joining names like Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Buffalo Trace Distillery, and The Brooklyn Brewery.

Even though he’s been a James Beard Award semi-finalist for three years in a row, Chef Aaron Vandemark of Hillsborough’s Panciuto was caught off guard last month when he learned that his name was on the list yet again. He was checking his email and received a congratulatory note, at first not realizing what it was for.  But that’s not too different from last year, Vandemark says. In 2012, he was alone in his kitchen cutting up lamb parts when he received a phone call from a writer in Raleigh who gave him the news.  “I’m always surprised by how informal it is,” he admits, referring to the fact that The James Beard Foundation does not notify its semi-finalists directly.

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