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Credit Jimmy and Dena Katz photo

Composer, conductor and 2019 NEA Jazz Master

2019 NEA Jazz Master composer, conductor, and arranger Maria Schneider creates highly original and evocative compositions for her jazz orchestra, which she formed in 1992. Much of her music is autobiographical, evoking the Minnesota plains where she was born and raised. She returns to the theme of her childhood in a prairie town again and again; in fact, she’s come to realize that the foundation of her music is her hometown. She finds parts of it magical, and we certainly hear it in her music. Although she’s composed classical work and collaborated with David Bowie, Maria’s musical center remains in jazz. In this podcast, we talk about her connection to jazz (especially to the music of NEA Jazz Master Gil Evans), the ways in which she and the musicians in her band inspire one another, her collaboration with Bowie, and how her deep ties to Windom, Minnesota, translates into mesmerizing music.

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Editors: Unseen: Unpublished Black History from The New York Times Photo Archives

Rachel L. Swarns and Darcy Eveleigh are two of the four editors of Unseen: Unpublished Black History from The New York Times Photo Archives. In Unseen, the editors took on the monumental task of going through millions of unpublished photos in the archives (or morgue) of The New York Times. They were looking for pictures of African Americans--both the ordinary and the famous. They then tried to get the story behind the photo centering around two major questions: why was the photo taken and why wasn't it used. The process was like unraveling a mystery taking a lot of determination. And the result is pretty extraordinary. Both Rachel and Darcy were longtime staff journalists at and are now contributors to The New York Times--Rachel is a writer and Darcy a photo editor. They talk about the book from these different perspectives and also share how putting this book together influenced their own approach to the work that they do.

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Photo courtesy of Kiran Singh Sirah.

Folklorist, Poet, and President of the International Storytelling Center

Folklorist, Poet and President of the International Storytelling Center Kiran Singh Sirah is passionate about the power of stories.  He heads the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough Tennessee—the oldest festival of its kind in the world and a driving force behind the renaissance in storytelling.  Kiran talks about creating community through stories, the ability of story to transcend petty politics and connect us to what is essential.  His own story is pretty interesting: born in England to parents who had been expelled from their home in Uganda and grandparents who were part of the liberation movement in India.  He understands first-hand the ability of stories to translate cultures to each other.  We also hear a story from NEA National Heritage Fellow Sheila Kay Adams who can spin a tale with the best of them.

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Photo by Dese’Rae L. Stage

Author of The Big Read selection "Station Eleven"

A novel about what endures when civilization ends.

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Photo courtesy of SimonSays Entertainment

Actor and Tony- Award winning Producer

Shining a light on untold stories.

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Photo by Mathieu Bitton

2017 NEA Jazz Master

One of the best jazz organists, ever…and one of the most sampled jazz musicians.

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Photo courtesy of Rohan Spong

Documentary Filmmaker

Winter at Westbeth shines a light on artists and aging.

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Photo by Rux Martin/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Chef, restaurateur, and author

Creating new flavors with traditional food.

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Photo courtesy of Adriana Sananes

Actor and Narrator

Moving between Spanish and English on stage and on the page.

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Photo by Steve Wewerka

Ash/Sweetgrass Basketmaker and 2016 National Heritage Fellow

Bringing an ancient art form into the 21st century.

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Photo courtesy of Joe Standart

Photographer and Public Artist

Using empty storefront windows as his gallery, Standart exhibits “WE ARE- A Nation of Immigrants” in the heart of New London, CT.

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Executive Artistic Director of Story District

Everyone has a story; Story District helps tell it.

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Photo by Monette Berthommier

2016 NEA Jazz Master, Saxophonist, and Composer

Archie Shepp shares his musical biography—and his thoughts about the legacy of African-American music.

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Photo by Ashlee Duncan

2015 Bess Lomax Hawes National Heritage Fellow

A life in the folk and traditional arts.

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Jackie Dempsey and Steve O’Hearn Artistic Directors of Squonk Opera

Find out about the artistic exuberance that is Squonk Opera.

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