The Alabama Arts Radio Series introduces listeners to exceptional artists and other special people who make the arts happen in Alabama.
Each week, members of the Council staff visit with Alabama’s musicians, painters, sculptors, writers, and other special individuals who contribute to the state’s rich artistic traditions. This special radio series is affiliated with National Public Radio, Public Radio International, the Associated Press and the Alabama Broadcasters Association.
In this episode recorded shortly before Al Head retired in 2018, he and Joey Brackner talked about Al's 33 years as Executive Director of the Alabama State Council on the Arts and his work in the arts at the regional and national levels.
When this episode was recorded in 2017, Jake Landers was about to receive the Alabama Folk Heritage Award for his outstanding career in bluegrass music. He talked with Deb Boykin about songwriting, working with Bill Monroe as a Bluegrass Boy, and this thoughts about various covers of his most famous song, "Walk Softly on This Heart of Mine."
In 2019, Deb Boykin visited Huntsville to talk with Angela Walker, Founder and Director of the Huntsville Community Drumline. They discussed the importance of the Drumline to its participants and the success of some Drumline graduates who received college band scholarships.
In this episode from 2019, Anne Kimzey talks with luthier and musician Jason Burns, discussing how he learned his craft and his participation in the 2019 Folklife Apprenticeship program at the Alabama State Council on the Arts.
In this episode from 2018, Deb Boykin and Kiran Singh Sirah, President of the International Storytelling Center, discuss the power of storytelling and the role it can play in building social empathy and intercultural understanding.
In this program recorded in 2019, Joey Brackner talks with Brian Rushing of the University of Alabama Center for Economic Development and Matt Gage of the Office of Archeological Research at the University of Alabama about their partnership in developing the Alabama Indigenous Mound Trail, a heritage-based tourism project that provides interpretive signage at 15 significant mound sites around the state..
In this episode from 2016, Deb Boykin talks with Al Head, then ASCA Executive Director and Nick Spitzer, host and producer of American Routes, heard on Saturday nights on Troy Public Radio. They discuss working together in Louisiana when Al, as Executive Director of the Louisiana State Council on the Arts, hired Nick as the agency’s folklorist. Other topics include the growth of public folklore in the Southeast and the rich musical traditions found in the region.
First broadcast in 2013, this episode features Alabama Center for Traditional Culture Director Joey Brackner interviewing Alan and Karen Jabbour about their book Decoration Day in the Mountains: Traditions of Cemetery Decorations in the Southern Appalachians, published in 2010.
In this episode, Deb Boykin and the late Donnie Fritts continue their conversation, discussing what was then an upcoming album called June, dedicated to his friend, the late Arthur Alexander, who recorded one of the first hits to come out of Muscle Shoals, You Better Mover On. Fritts also shares his thoughts on songwriting and tells how he got the nickname "The Alabama Leaning Man." June was Donnie Fritts's final album, released by Single Lock Records not long before he died in 2019.
In 2017, Deb Boykin talked with Muscle Shoals singer, songwriter, and actor Donnie Fritts. He talked about his early years as drummer with Hollis Dixon and the Keynotes, playing fraternity houses around the Southeast, his 2015 album Oh My Goodness. He also recalled his time in Kris Kristofferson's band, which led to his appearing in movies directed by Sam Peckinpah.
In this episode from 2015, Deb Boykin talks with the members of Iron Horse, a bluegrass band from Rogersville. While they excel as performers of traditional bluegrass, they also cover songs by Black Sabbath, Nirvana, and Elton John. They talk about their beginnings as musicians and how they approach recording non-bluegrass songs in a bluegrass style. You can hear more of their work at their site ironhorsebluegrass.com
This episode from 2019 features Kay Jacoby interviewing Mary Holland and Glennie Brock about their efforts to restore the Lincoln Theater in Bessemer. The project was inspired by actor Andre Holland (Moonlight, 42, The Knick, Selma) whose plans for the theater include space for classes in the arts a performing space, and a place for the community to gather.
Joey Brackner and Alabama Public Television producer Heather Daniels Whitson talk about the Legacy Moments series. These one-minute pieces highlight notable Alabamians, interesting places in the state, and historic events. They were created during Alabama's Bicentennial and are still available for viewing on the Alabama Public Television website at http://www.alabamalegacy.org/.
In this episode which first aired in 2015, Joey Brackner interviews folklorist Bill Ferris. Ferris, who retired in 2018 had a ground breaking career as a researcher, film maker, director of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi, and director of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
This episode features thoughts on songs and songwriting from Alabamians Braxton Schuffert, who played and wrote with Hank Williams, bluegrass performer Claire Lynch, Mike Cooley, co-founder of the Drive-By Truckers, and others.
This episode includes music from the Salt and Pepper Music Series, a collaboration between the Alabama Folklife Association and the University of North Alabama. The series presents musicians from African-American musical traditions and white performers who come from similar, parallel traditions. Travis Wammack, member of the Hill Country Blues Hall of Fame and Little Jimmy Reed, contemporary bluesman from South Alabama are feature. Deb Boykin interviews both performer along with Shoals singer-songwriter Maxwell Russell and music historian Dick Cooper
In this episode from 2017, storyteller Delores Hydock talks with Yvette Jones-Smedley about her beginnings as a storyteller doing research on Alabama's Sand Mountain. She describes how she develops her perfomances and talks about the importance of storytelling in society.
In this episode, Debbie Delmore, youngest daughter of Alton Delmore of the Delmore Brothers, talks with Deb Boykin about her father's music and her memories of growing up around performers such as Vestal Goodman, Deford Bailey, and others. The Delmore Brothers harmonies and distinctive guitar styles influenced later musicians including Doc Watson.
In this episode. Deb Boykin interviews 2015 Alabama Governor's Arts Award recipient Rick Hall about his book The Man from Muscle Shoals: My Journey from Shame to Fame and about various aspects of Hall's career as a record producer and found of FAME recording studios.
Recipient of the 2009 Distinguished Artist Award, Beth Nielsen Chapman is interviewed by Arts Council Executive Director Al Head about her life as a popular singer/songwriter and as an educator. They also discuss Chapman's inspirations and her unique process of songwriting. Ms Chapman began her career in Montgomery and went on to write for a diverse group of artists including Willie Nelson, Roberta Flack, Neil Diamond, Bette Midler, Waylon Jennings and Faith Hill.
In this episode, songwriter, musician, and performer Earl “Peanutt” Montgomery talks with Community Arts Program manager Deb Boykin. Mr. Montgomery shares his memories of growing up in a musical family, recalling that he learned to write songs because his mother challenged him to emulate one of his older brothers. Like a number of musicians in the area, he got his start at the studio founded by Tom Stafford, Billy Sherrril, and Rick Hall. He wrote dozens of songs for George Jones, who became a close friend.
Jamorris Rivers, choreographer and artistic director of the Arova Comtemporary Ballet in Birmingham, who also teaches ballet, modern dance techniques, and jazz at the University of Alabama, talks with Yvette Jones-Smedley about his career as a dancer and educator,
Valerie White, director of Talladega's Heritage Hall museum talks with Deb Boykin about the Quilt Stories exhibition. One of Alabama's Bicentennial projects, this 2017 project included a quilt exhibit and a series of program about quilting in Alabama.
Deb Boykin talks with Heather Daniels Whitson and other volunteet leaders of Girls Rock Birmingham. This summer activity for girls 9 - 16 affords girls the opportunty to learn to play an instrument, write songs, and play with other campers in one of four bands in a week-long day camp setting. Girls also learn about cooperation and working together as well as some history about women in rock and roll.
In this episode from May, 2017 Barbara Edwards talks with Laurie Chapman and Justin Maddox who are part of a group undertaking the renovation of the historic Elba Theater which opened in 1935.. They describe the huge role the theater played in the community life in Elba prior to its closure in the mid 20th century and their desire to bring the building back for use of Elba's citizens now and in the future.
This week David Hood, bass player and original member of the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, also known as The Swampers, talks with Community Arts Program manager Deb Boykin. He recalls his early years as a musician and his work as a session player at FAME. Hood also describes the recording process at the Muscle Shoal Sounds Studio and talks about what it was like to work with the wide range of musicians who recorded there.
This week Anne Kimzey interviews Jeanie Thompson, executive director of the Alabama Writers’ Forum, about the 9th annual Alabama Book Festival to be held Saturday, April 19th in Montgomery’s Old Alabama Town. Jeanie will give a preview of the more than 50 authors appearing at the Book Festival plus special features such as the poetry tent and children’s area, as well as outreach activities for students and teachers.
This program is a rebroadcast, originally aired in 2008. Fiddler William “Gene” Ivey of Ider died march 16th of 2014. He was a good friend to the State Arts Council, a master fiddler and instrument maker who was devoted to teaching his music to young people and keeping the old-time stringband music of Sand Mountain alive for future generations. In this program Folklorist Anne Kimzey talks to Mr. Ivey and his apprentice Joseph Coleman about playing music and making handcrafted fiddles at Ivey’s workshop in Ider.
Jimmy Johnson, one of the original Swampers, talks with Deborah Boykin about his work in Muscle Shoals music. He recalls the early days of the recording industry in the Shoals, describes the Swampers’s approach to recording and talks about working with artists ranging from Percy Sledge to Aretha Franklin, to Paul Simon.
This program is a repeat of a 2012 show with fromer ASCA intern Summer Upchurch interviewing Individual Fellowship Recipient Jess Marie Walker about her life as an artist and an educator. Inspired by nature, music, and the art of public installation pieces, Jess Marie's background varies as much as her interests. Her work is highly collaborative and has been brought to fruition by HoWaYaDa, an artist collective, and by Pretty Much Collective. Her pieces range from a large-scale collaborative and interactive musical piece (where artists play kettles, rocks, and whatever is on-hand) to a smaller-scale collaborative piece celebrating the beauty of line-drawing and mountains. Her experiments with sound, form, and public exposure have been hosted in museums in Birmingham, Minneapolis, Long Island, Brooklyn, and Fairhope, among others. She currently lives in Montevallo with her youngest son.
Former Community Arts Program manager Deb Boykin interviews Darren Butler, director of Time Out for Theater. This program, developed by the Tennessee Valley Art Association, introduces elementary students in area schools to live theater through performances at the Ritz, an art deco movie house that has been converted to a performance venue. In the second half of the program, TVAA director Mary Settle Cooney discusses the organization’s commitment to bringing theater to the Shoals area.
Anne Kimzey, folklorist with the Alabama State Council on the Arts, interviews banjo champion Weston Stewart. Weston, an Alabama native from Anderson, Alabama, holds 14 state titles on banjo, as well as the 2011 National Bluegrass Banjo Title. In 2013, he was the Tennessee state champion on both banjo and dobro. Stewart is a master artist with the State Arts Council’s Folk Arts Apprenticeship Program and is passing on his musical knowledge to students in North Alabama.
Former Community Arts program manager Deb Boykin interviews Xan Morrow, chairman of the committee for the Red Door Theatre for the Tourism Council of Bullock County and Midge Putnam, executive director of the Tourism Council of Bullock County. The Red Door Theatre, housed in a former Episcopal church, presented Conecuh People, its initial production, in 2004. Morrow and Putnam discuss the theatre’s emergence as a regional tourism destination and a showcase for plays about the South.
Yvette Jones-Smedley interviews storyteller Joseph D. Trimble. Joseph, a 2013 recipient of a Theatre Fellowships from the Alabama State Council on the Arts, recounts a short tale of many from his repertory about Anansi the Spider, and shares tips to budding storytellers.
This program is a rebroadcast of the 1991 Radiovisions program produced by Russell Gulley and the Big Wills Arts Council. The program features the songs of J. R. "Pap" Baxter and an extended interview by Al Malone, Baxter's nephew, about the life and time of this well-known Southern Gospel singer/songwriter and publisher.
This week Anne Kimzey, folklorist with the Alabama State Council on the Arts, interviews Burgin Mathews and Frank “Doc” Adams about their book titled Doc: The Story of a Birmingham Jazz Man. Mathews is a writer and teacher at Spain Park High School in Hoover and Adams is a jazz musician, educator and the director of music at the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame in Birmingham. The two discuss their collaboration on the book that covers the life and career of Adams, including his education with John T. “Fess” Whatley and his experience playing with jazz legends Sun Ra and Duke Ellington.
This week on Alabama Arts Radio Kevin Nutt, Folklife archivist for the Alabama Department of Archives and History, interviews Birmingham native Andrew Nelson, a doctoral student at the University of Maryland at College Park, about an historic collection of glass plate negatives housed at the Birmingham Library. This photographic collection was produced by the Shackelfords, an African American family from the Covin community near Fayette in western Alabama in the early 20th century. The Shackelfords offered photographic services to railway travelers as well as their neighbors. Through Nelson’s research a close friendship developed with one of the family’s relatives, Annie Shackelford, also from the Covin Community. Together they produced a traveling exhibit of curated photographs called, “Both Sides of the Lens: Photographs by the Shackelford Family (1900-1935). In this interview Nelson tells the story of his meeting with Annie Shackelford. Also discussed is the Shackelford’s history as photographers and the cultural importance of the collection to Alabama history.