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Fresh Air from WHYY, the Peabody Award-winning weekday magazine of contemporary arts and issues, is one of public radio's most popular programs. Hosted by Terry Gross, the show features intimate conversations with today's biggest luminaries.
September 17, 2021
Jean Smart / Remembering Newport Jazz & Folk Festival Founder George Wein
Jean Smart is nominated for two Emmys — one for her lead role in 'Hacks' and one for her supporting role in 'Mare of Easttown.' We're revisiting her May 2021 interview. Pioneering music impresario George Wein created the Newport Jazz Festival in 1954 and the Newport Folk Festival in 1959. He died Sept. 13. He spoke with Terry Gross in 2003.
September 16, 2021
The Battle To Keep Local Journalism Alive
In the past 15 years, one in four newspapers has shuttered in the U.S. We talk with Art Cullen, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, editor, and co-owner of 'The Storm Lake Times' in the meatpacking town of Storm Lake, Iowa. He and his family are the subject of a new documentary, called 'Storm Lake,' about the challenges the industry is facing as news moves to free digital platforms and ad revenues dwindle. The film is opening in select theaters and be on PBS Nov. 15.
September 15, 2021
Colson Whitehead On His Crime Novel 'Harlem Shuffle'
Whitehead's new novel 'Harlem Shuffle,' is about a furniture store owner in Harlem whose sideline is fencing stolen goods. Whitehead won a Pulitzer Prize for his novel 'The Underground Railroad,' about a 15-year-old enslaved girl who escapes a brutal Georgia plantation. The novel was adapted into a TV series that is now nominated for several Emmys. Whitehead won another Pulitzer for his next novel 'The Nickel Boys,' based on the story of the Dozier School for Boys, a segregated reform school notorious for its brutal punishment. We talk about heists, how New York City has changed, and writing in the pandemic Justin Chang reviews the film 'Blue Bayou.'
September 14, 2021
The Weird World Of Animal Crimes
Science writer Mary Roach ('Stiff', 'Gulp') explores scenarios where animals are the ones committing "crimes" — and how society deals with it. We talk about bear attacks, drunk elephants, and monkey thieves. Her new book is 'Fuzz: When Nature Breaks the Law.' Also, Kevin Whitehead reviews a new album from saxophonist Joel Frahm.
September 13, 2021
Banjo Player Béla Fleck
Béla Fleck is perhaps the most famous banjo player in the world. He's taken that instrument out of its folk and bluegrass traditions to play pretty much any kind of music: from jazz and pop to classical and reggae. But bluegrass has always been where he comes from — and he's returned to it for his new album, 'My Bluegrass Heart.' He's dedicated it to two musical heroes that died in the last year: Chick Corea and Tony Rice. Fleck joins Sam Briger to play his banjo, and talk about returning to his roots; his trip to Africa, the continent of the banjo's origin; and meeting his father for the first time in his 40s. Ken Tucker reviews, 'Dreaming of You,' a collection of songs by actor Karen Black, best known for 'Easy Rider' and 'Five Easy Pieces.' Black died in 2013.
September 11, 2021
Best Of: Michael K. Williams / Poet Laureate Joy Harjo
Michael K. Williams was best known for playing Omar on 'The Wire' and Chalky White on 'Boardwalk Empire.' He died Sept. 6 of a suspected drug overdose. In 2008, Williams told Terry Gross the story behind the scar on his face and his background in dance. In 2016, he reflected on his lucky breaks and what it was like to leave Omar behind. "When 'The Wire' and the character of Omar ended, I had zero tools, personally speaking, in how to deal with letting that go. ... I didn't equip myself with the tools of how to wash that off my psyche." Maureen Corrigan reviews Sally Rooney's new novel, 'Beautiful World, Where Are You.' Also, we hear from U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo. She's the first Native American appointed to the position. She has a new memoir, 'Poet Warrior,' that's in part about her family's history. She's a member of the Muskogee (Creek) Nation.
September 10, 2021
The Rise And Fall Of Osama Bin Laden
As the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks approaches, a new biography traces Osama bin Laden's path from a shy, religious teenager to the leader of a global jihadist group dedicated to mass murder. Journalist Peter Bergen, who met the al-Qaida leader in 1997, says that a series of events kept pushing bin Laden "further and further down the path of radicalization." We also talk about conditions in Afghanistan after the U.S. troop withdrawal, and the chances that terrorist organizations will flourish there as al-Qaida did in the '90s. Bergen's new book is 'The Rise and Fall of Osama bin Laden.'Also, Justin Chang reviews the new Paul Schrader film 'The Card Counter,' starring Oscar Isaac and Tiffany Haddish.
September 9, 2021
SCOTUS & The Future Of Roe V. Wade
Ian Millhiser covers the Supreme Court for Vox. He says the Court's decision to uphold the recent Texas abortion law was a generational victory for abortion opponents: "They've spent many decades working for this moment."Maureen Corrigan reviews Sally Rooney's new novel, 'Beautiful World, Where Are You.'
September 8, 2021
Remembering Michael K. Williams
Williams was best known for playing Omar on 'The Wire' and Chalky White on 'Boardwalk Empire.' In 2008, Williams told Terry Gross the story behind the scar on his face and his background in dance. In 2016, he reflected on his lucky breaks and what it was like to leave Omar behind. "When 'The Wire' and the character of Omar ended, I had zero tools, personally speaking, in how to deal with letting that go. ... I didn't equip myself with the tools of how to wash that off my psyche." Williams died Sept. 6 of a suspected drug overdose.Also, critic David Bianculli reviews the new reboot of Doogie Howser, M.D.
September 7, 2021
Poet Laureate Joy Harjo / Historian Tiya Miles
The nation's first Native American poet laureate has a new memoir in which she tells her own story — as well as the story of her sixth-generation grandfather, who was forced from his land in the Trail of Tears. It's called 'Poet Warrior.' "If my work does nothing else, when I get to the end of my life, I want Native peoples to be seen as human beings," she says.Historian Tiya Miles tells the story of an enslaved woman who, upon hearing that her child was being sold off, hastily packed her a cotton sack with a few personal items. That cotton bag remained in the child's possession and was passed on from one generation to the next, and at one point in the early 1900s, was inscribed with the family's tale. Eventually it ended up at the National Museum of African American History. Miles joins contributor Arun Venugopal to talk about what this story tell us about slavery. Her book is 'All That She Carried.'
September 6, 2021
Mavis Staples / Gladys Knight
We conclude our Summer of Soul series with Mavis Staples and Gladys Knight, two performers featured in Questlove's documentary about the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival. As a teenager, Mavis Staples performed with her family in the Staple Singers, led by her father, "Pops" Staples. By the late '50s, the Staple Singers was one of the most popular gospel groups in the country. In the early '70s, they crossed over to the top of the pop charts.Gladys Knight's Motown hits with the Pips included "I heard it Through the Grapevine," "Neither One of Us," and "The End of Our Road." She had one of her biggest hits after leaving Motown: "Midnight Train to Georgia."
September 4, 2021
Best Of: Sandra Oh / Aretha Franklin
Sandra Oh stars in the new comedy series 'The Chair,' as the newly appointed chair of the English department at a prestigious college-- the first woman and first person of color to hold the position. Oh co-starred in Grey's Anatomy and is currently shooting the fourth and final season of the spy thriller series 'Killing Eve.' Also, we'll listen to our 1999 interview with Aretha Franklin. She's portrayed by Jennifer Hudson in the new biopic 'Respect.' And Justin Chang reviews 'Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.' It's the first Marvel movie to feature an Asian superhero.
September 3, 2021
Abbey Lincoln / Max Roach
We're continuing our "Summer of Soul" series with archival interviews with singer Abbey Lincoln and drummer Max Roach. Both were featured in the Questlove documentary about the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival. Abbey Lincoln started out as a seductive nightclub singer in the 1950s, but after meeting Max Roach, she started performing in a style influenced by modern jazz and the civil rights movement. She evolved into an introspective singer who wrote achingly beautiful songs about love and life. Max Roach was one of the inventors of modern jazz drumming. He helped formulate the language of bebop. In the early 1960s, he recorded some of the first jazz music inspired by the Civil Rights Movement.Also, John Powers reviews the PBS Masterpiece series 'Guilt.'
September 3, 2021
B.B. King / Hugh Masekela
We're revisiting archival interviews with some of the musicians featured in the documentary 'Summer of Soul.' The film is about the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, a series of free concerts which reflected changes in Black culture and politics. Today we'll hear our 1996 interviews with B.B. King, perhaps the most famous blues singer and guitarist of his generation, and our 1988 interview with Hugh Masekela, the South African trumpeter who was described in the 'New York Times' as a symbol of South Africa's anti-apartheid movement, even as he spent three decades in exile.
September 1, 2021
Questlove Revives "Black Woodstock" With 'Summer Of Soul'
Today we begin our series Summer of Soul, featuring interviews from our archive with some of the performers showcased in the documentary 'Summer of Soul,' about the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival. The festival was a series of six concerts that reflected changes in Black music, culture and politics. Over the next few days, we'll hear interviews from our archive with B.B. King, Hugh Masekela, Gladys Knight, Mavis Staples, Max Roach and Abbey Lincoln. We start with Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson, who directed the documentary. Questlove founded the band The Roots, the house band of 'The Tonight Show' and is known for his encyclopedic knowledge of hip-hop, funk, soul and R&B. Justin Chang reviews 'Shang-Chi,' Marvel's first superhero film starring an Asian lead.
August 31, 2021
Celebrating Aretha Franklin, Queen Of Soul
To mark the debut of the biopic 'RESPECT,' we listen back to archival interviews with Aretha, as well as with Atlantic Records producer Jerry Wexler, and songwriter Dan Penn, who co-wrote "Do Right Woman." We'll hear about Aretha's upbringing in the church, the iconic "sock-it-to-me's" in Respect, and recording at Muscle Shoals.
August 30, 2021
Oh stars as chair of the English department at a prestigious university in the Netflix series 'The Chair.' The 'Grey's Anatomy' co-star joined us to talk about her upbringing in Canada, breaking barriers for Asian women in Hollywood, and the sexual tension between her 'Killing Eve' character and the psychopath Villanelle. TV critic David Bianculli shares his first impressions of the Hulu comedy 'Only Murders in the Building,' starring Martin Short, Steve Martin and Selena Gomez as amateur sleuths.
August 28, 2021
Best Of: 'Schmigadoon!' Co-Creator / How Dopamine Works
Cinco Paul loves musicals — unlike his long-time writing partner, Ken Daurio, with whom he created the new Apple TV+ satire, 'Schmigadoon!' Their series centers on a couple who become trapped in a musical town. We talk with Paul about what inspired the series. Film critic Justin Chang reviews 'CODA.' Psychiatrist Dr. Anna Lembke's new book, 'Dopamine Nation,' explores the brain's connection between pleasure and pain. It also helps explain addictions — not just to drugs and alcohol, but also to food, sex and smart phones.
August 27, 2021
Remembering Chuck Close, Joe Galloway, Charlie Watts
We remember an artist, a journalist and a musician, each of whom made significant contributions to their respective fields: Known for his giant hyper-realist paintings of faces, Chuck Close was one of the leading artists of his generation. After a stroke left him partially paralyzed, he was able to keep painting. Former war correspondent Joe Galloway was the only civilian to be awarded the Medal of Valor in the Vietnam War. And Charlie Watts, the drummer for the Rolling Stones, who helped define rock 'n' roll.
August 26, 2021
CNN's Clarissa Ward On The Taliban & Afghan Women
Clarissa Ward, CNN's chief international correspondent, spent 3 weeks in Afghanistan, first with the Afghan military in Kandahar, just before it fell; then in Ghazni province, in territory that was taken over by the Taliban, and in Kabul, where the Taliban were celebrating their victory. After reporting on the chaos and danger at the airport, as thousands of people tried to escape on U.S. military flights, she got on an Air Force C-17 to Doha, Qatar, along with hundreds of evacuees. We'll talk about what she learned and what she experienced.