In the music of Astanza Project, you will hear influences of Latin, jazz, rock, roots and more. The Greensboro-based band is known for blending cultures to develop their signature fusion sound. The four members join host Frank Stasio to perform live and talk about their forthcoming CD.
WUNC Greensboro Bureau Chief Jeff Tiberii joins host Frank Stasio with an update on some headlines in the Triad, including news on Greensboro's new mayor and city council members and what a newly opened school of nanoscience could mean for education and employment opportunities in North Carolina.
2011 was a stellar year for bass player John Brown. He had the opportunity to travel the state hosting educational workshops and performing community concerts for jazz lovers. His ensemble, the John Brown Jazz Orchestra, was featured in a documentary called “One Night in Kernersville,” a short film that won the Jury Award at this year’s Full Frame Documentary Film Festival. Now Brown and his big band are jazzing up the holidays with a series of concerts that celebrate the music and spirit of the Christmas season. They join host Frank Stasio to share some musical merriment live in the studio.
Inbreeeding is nothing new in the world of insects, but researchers at North Carolina State University have found that when it comes to mating, bedbugs seem to have a genetic advantage over other creepy crawlies. Incest eventually depletes most populations, but the number of bedbugs has somehow managed to increase, even in infestations where forensic tests show evidence of inbreeding.
Religion scholar Carl Ernst says he has witnessed how much anxiety the existence of the Qur’an can cause among non-Muslims. Ernst, a professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, began studying the holy text of Islamic faith in the late 1960s. In 2002, he watched the uproar in the national media over UNC’s decision to make the Qur’an required reading for that year’s incoming freshman class. Ernst says the Qur’an, like any spiritual text, is open to interpretation and he has created a guide to help make the book more accessible.
Contemporary composer Paul Swartzel certainly draws from the masters of classical music for inspiration. But in addition to Beethoven and Haydn, Swartzel studies commercially successful songs from the 1980s for lessons on how to write great music - and how to descriptively write about music for non-musicians. Host Frank Stasio talks with Swartzel, a graduate student in the Department of Music at Duke University, about how Milli Vanilli and Public Enemy can influence today’s classical composers and the course he teaches at Duke called “I Love the 80s.”
For writer Hillary Jordan, the lessons of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic, “The Scarlet Letter,” are relevant today. In her new book, “When She Woke” (Algonquin/2011), Jordan imagines that the skin tone of convicted criminals can be genetically altered to fit their misdeeds. Petty crimes are punished with yellow pigmentation, sex crimes with blue and criminals convicted of murder – like the book’s protagonist Hannah Payne – are turned bright red. Hannah, a devoutly religious young woman, is being punished for killing her unborn child. Her incarceration is also broadcast on reality TV.
An estimated 16,000 kids dropped out of school in North Carolina last year. That’s a slight improvement from the year before, but it’s clear that much more needs to be done to make school a welcoming and academically challenging place for many of the state’s students. Join host Frank Stasio and UNC-TV’s Heather Burgiss for a special conversation about how to keep kids in the classroom.
The last couple of years have been one big dance party for Archbishops of Blount Street. The 10-member, Triangle-based band specializes in ska music, a Jamaican-born blend of upbeat calypso, jazz and R&B that predates reggae. They join host Frank Stasio in the studio to play live and discuss the origins of ska and how it has inspired musicians around the world for generations.
Saxophonist Branford Marsalis is a living legend in the jazz music world. The Grammy Award-winner has been busy with composing original music for the Broadway production of “Mountaintop,” a narrative that imagines the last night of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. before his assassination in Memphis, TN.
Marsalis also just completed production on a new album called “Songs of Mirth and Melancholy,” a collaboration with pianist Joey Calderazzo, a fellow Durham resident. This week, Marsalis will be honored with a North Carolina Award, the state’s highest civilian honor.
He joins host Frank Stasio to talk about the latest achievements in his esteemed career.
When singer-songwriter Kim Arrington delivers a tune, you can’t help but wonder if she’s in love. Although amore is a common theme in many of her lyrics, the emotion in Arrington’s music comes from the sincere passion she has for singing. Her forthcoming CD is called “Getting II Yes” and to raise money for its production, Arrington is performing a series of living room concerts to get the word out about her music one community at a time. She joins host Frank Stasio to talk about her new album and play live in the studio.
When last we left superhero Herald M.F. Jones, he was saving the people of Jade City from the controlling clutches of corrupt, charismatic villains. That was in “Jade City Chronicles,” a stage production that ran at Man Bites Dog Theater in Durham last summer. Since then, playwright Howard Craft has written even more spectacular adventures for Herald, an African-American vigilante with a unique past and supernatural abilities. The new chapters of Herald’s life will be heard on the radio in a new series called “The Jade City Pharaoh,” which is in development to premiere on WUNC’s “The State of Things” in December. Craft joins host Frank Stasio to talk about creating a modern-day hero that’s perfect for the stage, the comic strip and the airwaves.
SPECIAL EVENT ANNOUNCEMENT: The Jade City Pharaoh is coming to "The State of Things" on WUNC! Join host Frank Stasio at the Haw River Ballroom in Saxapahaw, NC on Friday, November 4th at 8 p.m. for a benefit to support a new radio drama series starring Herald MF Jones, the bad ass black superhero of "Jade City Chronicles." It's an evening of live music, visual art, spoken word and audience participation with playwright Howard Craft, Shirlette Ammons & the Dynamite Brothers, Poetic Portraits of a Revolution, Franco, Kim Arrington and more. Tickets start at just $25! For more information, click here.
Dr. Barry Saunders holds a Ph.D in religious studies, in addition to being a physician. He’s seen the horrors that can happen in a hospital setting and those experiences help him relate to literature about the living dead. Saunders believes that in many ways, vampires, zombies and other creatures are cultural reflections of our society’s feelings about death and dying. In the spring, Saunders will teach a seminar course called “The Undead: Bodies In Between” at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he is an associate professor of social medicine.
WUNC welcomed a new Greensboro Bureau Chief this summer. Jeff Tiberii has worked in the Triad region of North Carolina since 2006. He joins host Frank Stasio with a review of the most-buzzed about headlines including the upcoming local elections in Greensboro and John Edwards’ appearance in federal court.
The story of the Civil Rights activists known as Freedom Riders is well-known. But the Freedom Riders’ nonviolent efforts to integrate interstate bus transportation in the era of lawful racial segregation were inspired by the Journey of Reconciliation, a two-week bus trip across the Jim Crow South in 1947. The Journey of Reconciliation was taken by 16 men – eight black, eight white – and the riders were arrested many times, including in Chapel Hill, NC where they were sentenced to serve on a chain gang. Derek Catsam, an associate professor of history at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin, joins host Frank Stasio to talk about the legacy of the Journey of Reconciliation and what happened when their bus rolled through the Tar Heel State.
Every October, tens of thousands of people make a pilgrimage to Portobelo, a quiet fishing town in Panama’s Colon Province, to visit El Cristo Negro – the Black Christ. It’s a life-sized figure of Jesus carved from dark mahogany. That powerful symbol, which has been in Portobelo since the 17th century, represents both the proud spirit and spiritual identity of this unique Central American community. Host Frank Stasio talks about the people of Portobelo, the Black Christ figure and the annual festival that celebrates it with Renee Alexander Craft, a writer and assistant professor of communication studies and global studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Countless memories are made at the North Carolina State Fair in Raleigh every year, but now the State Library has created an easy way for people to share their fair experiences with others. A new Website called Blue Ribbon Memories allows people to submit writings and photographs about their fondest times at the fair. The site is also an interactive archive of documents related to the event’s long history. Lisa Gregory of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources State Library joins host Frank Stasio to talk about the online project and what the first state fair in 1853 was like.
Professional tennis players like to say that to master the game, you must first log no less than 10,000 hours on the court. Rex Miller crossed that threshold before the age of 10. Both of Miller’s parents were tennis players and they often brought him to the court as a child, first to observe, then to learn the game. Miller followed in their footsteps and played competitively for many years, but eventually he was distracted from tennis by his true calling: visual storytelling. He is now an award-winning photographer and a documentary filmmaker.
Musicians Peter Mawanga and Andrew Finn Magill know that when people hear statistics about HIV, they usually tune out. So, the duo decided to use their artistic abilities to convey the tragedy caused by AIDS in Africa and make people pay attention. They collected the personal narratives of HIV patients and their family members and turned them into songs for a CD project called “Mau A Malawi: Stories of AIDS.” Each track is sung in English and in Chichewa, the language of Mawanga’s homeland, Malawi. Magill, a Chapel Hill resident, and Mawanga join host Frank Stasio to play live and talk about how they came to collaborate on this project.
Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Angelique Kidjo is an international star, but artistically, she’s never too far from her West African roots. Kidjo grew up in Benin listening to the music of the region, but her parents also introduced her to American R&B artists like Aretha Franklin and James Brown. Kidjo’s latest CD, “Oyo,” is a celebration of her early musical influences. This weekend, she’ll perform tunes from it and more at Memorial Hall on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Kidjo joins host Frank Stasio to talk about growing up in Africa, her path to global fame and her upcoming concert.
These days, the term “philanthropist” is most often associated with multi-million dollar gifts to good causes, but a new book aims to reclaim the word for folks without Oprah-sized bank accounts. “Giving Back: A Tribute to Generations of African-American Philanthropists” (John F. Blair Publishers/2011) honors the generosity and goodwill that comes from everyday people and shines a light on the long legacy of giving in the black community. Valaida Fullwood and Charles Thomas Jr., the book’s author and photographer, join host Frank Stasio to talk about how to recognize philanthropy in your own social circle.
Sure, “Save the Whales” bumper stickers may not be as popular as they once were, but whale researcher Michael Fishbach says that doesn’t mean the waters are any safer for the majestic creatures. Fishbach is co-director of the Great Whale Conservancy and is particularly concerned with protecting blue whales, the largest animals on earth. He joins host Frank Stasio to talk about how efforts to save the whales have changed.
A fundraiser for Great Whale Conservancy will be held at the Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh, NC on October 17th at 6 p.m. For more information, click here.
In 1970, Ariel Dorfman went to work for Chilean President Salvador Allende. Allende's government was to usher in a new era of equality in Chile. But in 1973, the government was overthrown, Allende died and Dorfman went into exile. Dorfman's new memoir “Feeding on Dreams: Confessions of an Unrepentant Exile” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/2011), follows him from the time he left Chile and chronicles his attempts to return to his homeland. Host Frank Stasio speaks with Dorfman about the book.
Doug Glanville’s passion for baseball came early in life. As soon as he could walk, he was encouraged to play. The early start paid off; Glanville was signed to the Chicago Cubs in 1996. His passion for writing came later. Inspired by media coverage of the steroid scandal that rocked baseball in the late 1990s, Glanville decided to become a voice for baseball players, occasionally contributing columns to the New York Times. He’s since retired from the sport, but he continues to write and in 2010, he authored a memoir called “The Game from Where I Stand” (Times Books). Glanville now lives in Raleigh and works as a baseball analyst for ESPN. He joins host Frank Stasio to talk playoffs, performance enhancing drugs and the power of the pen.
In 2003, Vamsi Tadepalli was looking to form a band. He knew a lot of great musicians from his time as a music major at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, but he wanted to play really crowd-pleasing stuff - songs that would make audiences jump to their feet and dance. Tadepalli found his groove in the music of pop icon Michael Jackson. That next year, he founded Who’s Bad?, a tribute band that puts a funky, jazzy spin on Jackson’s hits. The group quickly grew in popularity with college crowds and eventually began traveling all over the world to perform, selling out venues in China the UK. Tonight, Who’s Bad? returns to their hometown to play at Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro.
Nearly 55 million Americans live in communities that are governed by homeowners associations, or HOAs. In exchange for dues, residents have access to neighborhood amenities like pools, parks and club houses. But more and more, HOAs are responsible for providing services and maintenance once offered by city and municipal governments – like trash pick-up and sewage system repairs.
Alternative rock band Wilco is based in Chicago and has a worldwide following, but when they take the stage in Raleigh tonight, it will be in support of a North Carolina-based nonprofit called Farmer Foodshare. The band is donating a portion of its concert merchandise sales to the organization, which collects fresh, local food and monetary donations for hunger relief. Host Frank Stasio talks with Wilco lead guitarist Nels Cline and Margaret Gifford, founder and executive director of Farmer Foodshare, about their partnership to end food insecurity in North Carolina and Wilco’s new CD, “The Whole Love.”