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Playlist: Anny Celsi's Portfolio

 Credit: Mieke Kramer
Image by: Mieke Kramer 

Anny Celsi is a skilled and versatile writer/producer/editor with over a decade of public radio experience. She is available for radio and podcast production, consulting, writing, script/audio editing, field recording, and music supervision; location is not a barrier.

Examples of her work, which include self-produced features, in-flight audio programming and daily syndicated series, are below.
She worked as a daily talk show producer and news producer at NPR affiliate KPCC for nine years, and as an inflight program producer for Delta Air and other airlines for five years.

As a singer/songwriter, Anny has released five albums of original music and toured Europe and the UK eight times.

Currently, Anny is Senior Producer of the daily syndicated radio program "The Loh Down on Science," and is editor of the weekly podcast "Climate One." Hide full description

Anny Celsi is a skilled and versatile writer/producer/editor with over a decade of public radio experience. She is available for radio and podcast production, consulting, writing, script/audio editing, field recording, and music supervision; location is not a barrier.

Examples of her work, which include self-produced features, in-flight audio programming and daily syndicated series, are below.
She worked as a daily talk show producer and news producer at NPR affiliate KPCC for nine years, and as an inflight program producer for Delta Air and other airlines for five years.

As a singer/songwriter, Anny has released five albums of original music and toured Europe and the UK eight times.... Show full description

Features: Writer/Producer/Editor

Rock n' Roll Billboards of the Sunset Strip

From Anny Celsi | 05:12

The very first rock billboard arrived on the strip fifty years ago, just in time for the Summer of Love. It was the brainchild of Elektra Records executive Jac Holzman to introduce his newest musical acquisition – The Doors – by hanging their four faces high above Sunset Boulevard. Other labels soon followed suit, turning the strip into an outdoor psychedelic art gallery. And in 1969, one rock billboard was famously at the center of a crime that went unsolved for over four decades: What happened to Paul McCartney’s Missing Head? Photographer Robert Landau, Doors guitarist Robbie Krieger and the man behind the “heist of the century” share their stories about the heyday of rock n’ roll billboards.

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If you were driving down the Sunset Strip in the late 1960’s, you’d be treated to what was essentially an outdoor rock and roll art gallery.  While psychedelic music poured out of the clubs, record stores and head shops along Sunset, the latest albums were being celebrated on gigantic billboards high above the street.  But it wasn’t always that way. The very first rock billboard arrived on the strip fifty years ago – just in time for the Summer of Love.

 

“It was this really unique period where art and culture merged and the sixties generation was sort of coming of age,” says photographer Robert Landau. “I think it was a really special time in a lot of ways.”

Landau spent ten years photographing the billboards on the Strip – producing what might be the most complete record of this largely unheralded art form. His photographs are collected in his book, “Rock ‘N’ Roll Billboards of the Sunset Strip” (Angel City Press).  It all started in 1969, when Landau was just a shy teenager with a camera – and the Sunset Strip in his front yard.

“My dad had a bachelor pad right above the Strip here,” Landau remembers.
“And I was 15; I'd walk down here with my camera, getting into photography.  And I'd see John Lennon and the Beatles 15 feet high, and some guy up there painting them.”

 

Each day on his way to school, Landau watched as his rock heroes took over the billboards on the strip, changing month to month.

“About three weeks later, they’d paint it over with a new message,” he continues. “I knew they weren't around long. So I knew when I saw one I liked I'd better get a picture or it'd be gone. 

 

“So I just started photographing them, and it became kind of an obsession for about ten years.” 

 

Of course, there have been billboards on Sunset as long as there have been cars. But up until the sixties, they were mainly ads for the usual products – cars, whiskey, TV shows and Vegas acts.

Then, in 1967, an executive at Elektra Records had a radical idea. He’d noticed that all the radio DJ’s took Sunset on their way to work in Hollywood – and he wanted their attention.

“Jac Holzman got the idea that a rock and roll billboard should be up there, selling a record album,” says Landau. “And he had the perfect album.”

 

The Doors were an LA band, born on the strip, wildly popular and about to make it big -- Elektra was releasing their debut album. And when Holzman hung their four faces high above Sunset, he wasn’t so much trying to sell records as making a statement: The Doors are here, and Elektra’s got 'em!

 

“No other company was doing that,” remembers Robbie Krieger, the band’s guitarist. “They didn't know if they were gonna make their money back on something like that. It was just more of an ego trip, I would say -- for the record company and us.”

 

“We used to drive by every day and look at it -- kinda hold up traffic,” he smiles.

 

As Krieger leafs through Landau’s book, Krieger recalls the day the billboard was erected on the strip.  With the entire band on hand, Elektra made sure the event was well publicized. He stops at an image of the four of them - Jim Morrison, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore and himself – perched high on top of the billboard.

 

“Oh yeah, they let us go up on top!” Krieger chuckles. “That would never happen today. But we hung out there for probably half an hour while they were putting it up…I'm amazed they let us sit there like that, that's funny.”

 

Other labels caught on, and soon every major artist saw their latest album immortalized on the Strip –The Who, The Rolling Stones, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd. And while promoting rock music with just an image might seem counterintuitive, for a generation used to obsessing over on album covers in detail, music and art were almost the same thing. And, Landau adds, the billboards weren’t really about advertising -- they were about communication. Almost like sending a secret message to the fans.

“In a lot of cases they're not even telling you what they're selling,” Landau points out. We’re standing on the corner of Sunset and Holloway, where a selection of Landau’s images is on display throughout this year. He points to one image: a billboard showing a pig, and dog and a sheep – and not a word of text.  

 

“If you didn't know that Pink Floyd had a record out called Animals, you didn't know what they were advertising,” Landau remarks. “And they didn't care. It really wasn't about that.”

 

In the pre-MTV, pre-YouTube and pre-iTunes era, “the first way to get people's attention was through the album cover, the visual,” he continues. “And those visuals also became the billboards. So that's the connection.”

 

Landau photographed hundreds of billboards during rock’s heyday. His book is dedicated to the artists who created the billboards, many of which were hand-painted. Landau holds a special reverence for those artists, many of whom he got to know as he watched them at work on his daily walks.

“The billboards were an uncredited art form,” he says. “Nobody said who painted ‘em, who designed ‘em.  Just the art of rendering these heads, at that size, was an incredible bit of craftsmanship, artistry, whatever you want to say, but it was really spectacular. 

“Because when you get right up to any billboard, it looks like a series of splotches. These things are huge. And you don't really notice it driving by in your car, but you get up close and they're really large.”

One rock billboard was famously at the center of a crime that went unsolved for over four decades – Paul McCartney’s missing head. It all started with the release of the Beatles’ album “Abbey Road” 1969.  That year, you couldn’t escape the bizarre rumor that “Paul was dead.”

“People were playing the records backwards, looking for clues, and they even said that this image was sort of a funeral march because he's barefoot,” Landau recalls as we look at a photograph of the album’s billboard.  Like the album cover, it features the Beatles in single file, crossing Abbey Road. Their heads are cutouts that extend above the billboard, silhouetted against the sky.

On the morning of December 23rd, 1969, Sunset Strip commuters saw what looked like the latest clue to McCartney’s demise – Paul’s head was missing from the billboard. Capitol Records sent the art director, Roland Young, out to investigate.

“They say what do you want us to do? Should we replace the head?” says Landau.  “And he says, no, leave it like that - it'll get a lot more attention!”

Young was right - the publicity certainly didn’t hurt record sales. But who was behind McCartney’s decapitation?

 

“My buddies helped me, and we did it on December 22nd, which was my birthday,” remembers Robert Quinn. He was just turning nineteen when he got the idea to pull off the heist of the century.  Quinn enlisted two accomplices, and around two o’clock that morning, they pulled up underneath the billboard in his 1959 Volvo.  One of the crew had brought along a Skilsaw. Within minutes, they had their prize.

 

So we threw Paul’s head into the trunk of my car and took off,” Quinn laughs.  “It was quick! If you were driving by, one second it was up there and the next it was gone.” 

 

McCartney’s head hangs on Quinn’s living room wall to this day. And he may have unknowingly salvaged the only remaining relic of this chapter in rock history. Because once a rock star’s billboard came down at the end of the month, it was destroyed, gone forever – and replaced by the Next Big Thing. 

http://www.rockandrollbillboards.com

Musicians Rally to Sing Harry Nilsson into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

From Anny Celsi | 05:17

The late singer-songwriter Harry Nilsson is, and always was, a musician's musician. In Los Angeles, a chorus of Harry-philes hope to use the power of music to sing their hero into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

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What exactly does it take to get an artist into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? Nobody seems to know. The nomination process is famously opaque – the only firm criterion is that the artist’s first record must have been released at least 25 years ago. Beyond that, it’s a mystery. Producer Anny Celsi (CHEL-see) was at a recording session with one group of fans - musicians, writer, actors and others inspired by the music of Harry Nilsson.  They hope their voices will somehow reach the ears of whoever holds the keys.

Video: “Let’s Put Harry in the Hall”

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Harry Nilsson Official Website

“Who is Harry Nilsson (…and Why is Everybody Talkin’ About Him?” 

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Snub List 

Sunset Cube: Composer camps out in his own music box on Sunset Strip

From Anny Celsi | 08:03

A man, a plan, a piano: For 10 days, Brazilian composer Manuel Lima ate, slept and played the piano in a 10 x 10 foot square cube erected on a triangle of lawn on Sunset Blvd.

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Brazilian composer Manuel Lima pushes out a panel on one side of  The Cube, revealing a secret door, and invites me inside. The Cube is a steel frame covered in translucent white fabric, and it it will be Lima’s home for the next ten days. It’s set on a triangle of lawn on a busy corner of Sunset Strip, just down the street from the old Tower Records building.  And…it’s surprisingly cozy.

The tour doesn’t take long – the Cube is only ten feet by ten feet. On one side is a tiny console piano, borrowed from Lima’s landlord. Next to that are a rotary fan to provide breeze and a subwoofer, which provides bass notes for one of the pieces.  A California pepper tree grows up through the center of The Cube, spreading a shady canopy overhead.  Dozens of red light bulbs hang from its branches. A white wooden box serves as a storage unit and table and converts into a bed, where Lima will sleep for ten nights.

“I'm considering everything I do in this cube as a performance,” Lima tells me. “So eating, sleeping and playing the piano, they're all part of the same performance that is the life in the Cube, basically.”

 

Life in the Cube has a set routine – like any day job. After a morning run and breakfast at a nearby restaurant, Lima plays the piano from nine to five, with a second shift in the evening.  The structure is important to the piece, he tells me.


“I really don't like the idea that the artist is doing something like, really special and beyond regular people,” says Lima.  “I think it should be the opposite way. Everybody should realize in little things, the art in it.  For me an artist is just a worker, just like someone that does tables, or build cars or anything else. It's just a process that you do over and over.”

Lima is 35, with a shy, slightly goofy smile and a curly mess of brown hair; his uniform is a white t-shirt and faded jeans. He recently earned a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from California Institute of the Arts, supported by a grant from the Brazilian government.

 

He started playing the piano as a child in his native São Paulo, Brazil.  “I started taking flute lessons when I was six,” he recalls. But he was drawn to the piano in his flute teacher’s house instead.  “He would never let me touch the piano…but I really just wanted to explore it. I bothered my parents to put me in a piano lesson just so I could see what it is, a piano.  And then that was it.”

 

On top of the piano in the Cube sits a 70’s era radio, which Lima uses as a springboard for improvisation.

“The day piece, I call it Sunset Boulevard  And I just tune in the radio, some random station, and I listen to that for three minutes, and I do a piano loop of what I'm hearing.”

Lima twirls the dial, and the sounds of AM radio flood by – Mexican music, car commercials, talk show rants.  He settles on Pink Floyd’s “The Wall.”  His fingers move over the piano keys and he picks up on the bass riff, playing a few notes, then switches off the radio.  He sits quietly for a moment, eyes closed, hands on the keys, and lets out a deep sigh. Then he beings to play.

“Sunset Boulevard” is a repeating series of musical loops, which build as the day goes by.  The music is informed not only by the radio, but by the world immediately outside the Cube – the sounds of traffic, the curiosity of passersby, the changing light as the day passes. Lima admits that living, working and playing in such an iconic and exposed setting is a challenge – but as an artist, he believes, it’s an essential one.

“I know it's gonna sound strange, but for me it's like getting outside of the box,” he says. “Because as an artist, we create something that's very personal.  And we have to remove ourselves from the mass media…performing there, it's like connecting again with this world.”

 

At five o’clock, an alarm clock rings, telling Lima it’s time to take a break. He sets up a table and a group of folding chairs, and a nearby coffee shop brings over a container of tea.  The public is invited to stop, visit with Lima and chat.  Friends from CalArts are there to offer support; one offers to do his laundry during his stay.  People who live nearby walk their dogs over to visit.

 

After dinner, Lima re-enters the cube to start the evening shift, and begins his second piece, a light and sound composition called “Red Light Piano,”  which he plays blindfolded to cut down on distractions. As the light fades to dark blue over Sunset Boulevard, the Cube begins to pulse with red lights going on and off.  The Cube is transformed into an inviting lantern of warmth, with a changing pattern of shadows.  The sound of the piano and the bass notes of the subwoofer mingle with the Friday night traffic.  The whole scene is watched intently by the gigantic image of Matt Damon as Jason Bourne, which graces a billboard across the street.

 

People passing by on their way to drinks or dinner are drawn to the glowing structure with the slight, blindfolded man inside, silhouetted at the piano.  They stop out of curiosity…and stay to listen. Throughout the evening, small groups drift toward the Cube, talking quietly, taking pictures, and then breaking away to continue their evening.


At ten, Lima calls it a night. “I’m tired,” he admits. “Actually, the whole day, I was apprehensive – I don’t know why.  But I feel somehow it’s working.”

And with that, he prepares to go to sleep in the Cube.   When his alarm goes off at 7 am, it will be the start of another day for this working artist.

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Manuel Lima’s “Sunset Cube” is made possible by the City of West Hollywood and its Art on the Outside program.

 Manuel Lima

The Cube: Score

The Cube: Awaken – A Time Lapse

 

Esperanza Spalding: Emily’s D+ Evolution

From Anny Celsi | 06:51

Jazz musician Esperanza Spalding took up the violin at age five, was a concertmaster at fifteen and graduated from the Berklee School of Music at age 20. At 31, she’s a world-renowned composer, bassist and vocalist. Now, she’s taking yet another leap - by turning her latest album, “Emily’s D+ Evolution,” into a theatrical production. It’s not exactly a musical, and it’s not a straight-ahead concert, either -- it’s more like an illustrated song cycle.

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In a theater on Long Island, Esperanza Spalding is rehearsing with her band. She’s on the bass of course, accompanied by a drummer, guitar player and three backup singers. There’s a tour in the works, and a whole new album to play.

“I've always performed music and depended on the interplay between the musicians to be the connecting point for the audience,” Spalding explains during a rehearsal break. “So the overall experience of the sound that we're creating, combined with the dynamic interplay of improvised music, of jazz music -- to me that's what they come for.”

Esperanza Spalding grew up in Portland, Oregon.  She took up the violin at age five, later switched to bass and graduated from the Berklee School of Music at age twenty, the youngest instructor ever to teach there.  At 31, she’s a world-renowned composer, bassist and vocalist, has won several Grammys, performed at the White House, and shared the stage with greats like Herbie Hancock and Stevie Wonder.  Now, Spalding is taking yet another artistic leap - by turning her latest album, “Emily’s D+ Evolution,” into a theatrical production.  That fresh approach came about, she says, because of Emily.

“Emily was a being that asked to come out and play, that's how I feel it,” says Spalding. “And when I asked her what she wanted to do, she said I want to move, and I want to talk about D+ Evolution. And I didn't really know what that was, but it seemed like it was important.”

Emily is also her middle name, Spalding adds – the name she was known by when she was a child.  “She sort of represents creative inquisitiveness, and playfulness, and the willingness to try and explore and engage with whoever she encounters. And that is something I hope we don't think is only for kids.”  

Spalding says she envisioned the show as “these little vignettes happening… I was seeing this character, I was seeing the vignettes, I was seeing movement.  So since 2013 I've been looking for the people who could help me bring it there.”

          One of the people she turned to is theater director Will Weigler. They first met when Esperanza was a child. Weigler, also from Portland, was directing a show that her brother was in, and has been a close family friend ever since. Now, they’re collaborating for the first time.

“Originally she was asking for my advice,” Weigler recalls. “She'd worked on Emily's D plus Evolution, she'd done the first iteration, and she was trying to find a way to dial it up, to make it much more of a theater production.”

Spalding flew to Weigler’s home in Victoria, B.C. to get his input. “So we sat down and we talked through all the songs, and I talked about what I wanted them to say, what to me it seemed like this was saying. He told me things that he saw that I hadn't seen. And we ended up basically working out this rough script.”  

They started with re-orderdering the songs on the album to create a narrative arc. “There was a lot of shuffling, you know,” Spalding relates. “Figuring, oh that doesn't make any sense, now if we put that there, we’re gonna be stuck.  So, oh, maybe it could go into this…and once we found the order, it was like, it was just singing.  It all seemed like it was written that way.”

 

The next step was to bring their ideas to rehearsal. The musicians and singers were enlisted as actors, and together they all set about to play with and refine the onstage moments that would capture the essence of each song.  Finding those human connections, says Spalding, has been a process of discovery.

“Equations are being solved by our subconscious creative mind,” she says. “And as we keep working at it, and digging away at that earth, and taking our brushes and trying to figure out how are we gonna get this bone out of the ground - the patterns have been revealing themselves.”

 

“Emily’s D+ Evolution” isn’t a musical, in the traditional sense, and it’s not exactly a concert either -- it’s more like an illustrated song cycle. And Spalding admits that turning music into theater is a new experience, outside of her comfort zone -- even a little scary. But she takes inspiration from the words of one of her heroes, jazz musician Wayne Shorter, who urged her to ‘Have the courage to engage in creative dialogue with the unexpected.’

 

“I hear that phrase all the time, repeating in my head,” Spalding smiles. “And I think, wow - that is the challenge! It’s one of the greatest challenges, as we step forward day by day, and try to creatively resolve and transform personal struggles -- struggles with each other on the planet, sharing the planet's resources, reconciling heinous acts of violence, reconciling heinous acts of greed or expectation…all these attributes of the unexpected can often freeze us into not engaging.

And it feels like the power we can draw on is creativity.  It is the willingness to explore and to play and to try it and take it as an opportunity to play -- and try some new stuff, you know?”

And as Emily reminds us, “trying new stuff” is more than child’s play – it’s an essential part of life.

Joe Powers - Master of the Tango Harmonica

From Anny Celsi | 07:16

Most people think of the harmonica as a pastime for cowboys, or the go-to instrument for blues aficianados. But in Joe Powers' hands, the humble harmonica perfectly expresses the passion of Argentine tango.

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At age two, Joe Powers received a Christmas gift that set him on a lifelong journey: his first harmonica. “Most of the time, when you give a kid a harmonica, you don't really expect them to dedicate their life to it,” says Powers.  “You kinda expect them to slobber on it, huff and puff a little bit, and then lose it somewhere. But actually, I just kept playing it.” 

While other teens were practicing guitar licks or piano scales, Powers continued to develop his harmonica chops, playing in blues and rock bands and exploring classical music as well.  Then, as a music student at the University of Oregon, he discovered another passion.  “My junior year, I got into dancing. And eventually that led to Argentine tango, and I got hooked on the music.” 

Upon graduating, Powers promptly moved to Buenos Aires to pursue tango dancing.   His two passions came together when a friend introduced him to the music of tango master Hugo Díaz.  Díaz’ records, mostly recorded in the  1960’s and 70’s, weren’t easy to find.  “I went to five different music stores trying to find a CD,” remembers Powers.  “And the only thing I could come up with was a cassette tape - and I didn't have a cassette player, so I had to borrow one.”  

Powers was so inspired by what he heard that he started a tango band of his own, one that featured his harmonica playing.  As he found, the harmonica is uniquely suited to express the musical passion of tango.  “The harmonica can bend pitches,” much like a voice, as Powers demonstrates.  “You can take a pitch on the harmonica and you can make it wail, you can make it cry.

Powers eventually returned to Buenos Aires to record an album of tango music, Amor de Tango, with members of the Leopodo Federico Tango Orchestra, Horacio Cabarcos, Raul Luzzi and Latin Grammy nominated pianist Nicolas Ledesma.  Now 36, Powers travels the world playing with classical orchestras, jazz and blues bands, Japanese koto groups and, on one occasion, ten grand pianos at once. 

 

“Playing for symphony orchestras – there’s nothing like being backed up by a hundred musicians. The power, the energy that creates,” says Powers.  But he also thrives on the intimacy of playing to a roomful of dancing couples.  “I like to look out and see everybody dancing, immersed in the music. That's one of the things I really enjoy about this, is connecting with the audience. I like to share the energy of tango with people. And it comes back. That's what it's all about, for me.”

The Calling Voice - Moira Smiley and Voco

From Anny Celsi | 07:45

VOCO sings folk music - but not the usual coffeehouse fare. It’s music that's steeped in generations of tradition, from far-off, tucked-away corners of the globe, and it sometimes means learning to sing in new ways. Moira Smiley talks about her life-long journey to seek out this traditional music, unlock its vocal secrets and bring it to new listeners.

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On a cool Los Angeles evening, about thirty people gather at a home in Mt. Washington known as the 'Polish Plantation' -- so named for its former owner, a Polish immigrant who dedicated years to decorating the entire house with elaborately carved wooden ornamentation. Out back, the roof of a shed has been turned into a stage. Three women stand atop it, dressed warmly against the chill, an enormous pine tree strung with lights rising behind them to form a backdrop.

As the crowd falls silent, the women begin to step, clap and beat on their chests and thighs, eyes closed to focus together on the rhythm they're creating with their bodies. They start to softly hum, then sing, three voices joined together in harmony, no instruments needed - a sound nearly as old as music itself.

To hear VOCO is to be transported across waters, across worlds, across time. As Moira Smiley, the group's main composer, arranger and musicologist says, "What I love about old music is that there is a sense of your smallness in the big story, and that your song is about reaching out into the unknown with your voice as a searchlight."

Smiley began exploring the world's music as a little girl, growing up in a farmhouse in Vermont. Her parents were avid music lovers. "[We] had a record box that was a big wooden chest, and all the records were in it, and at an early age, I wanted to organize them and understand the differences between these different styles that my parents liked. Primarily it was jazz, folk, classical, and a little bit of pop from the 60s and 70s...they were interested in classical music and art music and folk music. Basically, they were wanting to understand the world through music."

Understanding the world through music became Smiley's passion as well. She started her exploration at the age of 12, going to Russia with a folk singing troupe, where she got to experience folk music on a large scale. Since then she has traveled from far-flung European villages to the corners of the southern United States, all to listen, learn, and absorb the music that people have lived with for generations, in places where music is woven into everyday life. "It tends to be places that are not cities, that are rural," she says, "often people don't think of themselves as musicians, and they would laugh if you said they were, but then they come up with fifty songs that they know by heart."

Early on, she was drawn to the folk music and harmonies of Eastern Europe: Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, Bulgaria. "Mostly the songs that the women would sing and songs to accompany dance," she says. "And they were full of harmony, at least two, often three and four part vocal harmony."

She found that when people sing together, no matter what part of the world they're from, it's with a purpose. "People use harmony singing to express celebration," she says, "but also woe, and just the most eternal longing."

In traditional Eastern European music, voices blend together in long, river-like tones, harmonizing in ways that mesmerize and surprise our ears. Smiley explains that the songs are based on a harmonic structure that developed differently than the western music we're accustomed to. The vast landscape, she says, contributes to the horizontal feel of the music. "You feel time differently in some of these more eastern cultures, and some of the early music reflects that as well."

Smiley brought home the music she learned, taught it to her friends, and VOCO was born. A classically trained singer, she found that capturing the essence of traditional Eastern European music isn't just about learning melodies and lyrics. It means learning a whole new way of using your voice, absorbing a new body language and internalizing a culture.

That evening at the concert, under a full moon, the voices of VOCO blend with the usual Los Angeles soundscape: dogs barking in the distance, the occasional fly-over, a hint of ranchera radio coming through the speakers. But they can still take us to a place where songs like these have been sung for centuries - and where the things we sing about never change. Smiley introduces an ancient Hungarian song with this universal theme:

"Love, love, wretched love! Why do you not blossom on every tree, and why do you not come for every boy, every lonely girl and every orphan boy?"

Moira Smiley continues to reach into the unknown, using her voice to light the way.

Fighting Homophobia in the Classroom

From Anny Celsi | 06:06

Teens in Los Angeles use live theater to battle homophobia in the classroom.

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The death of Laurence King – killed by a junior high classmate in Oxnard, California in 2008 – highlights a big problem: If you're a teacher, how should you deal with homophobia in the classroom? One group is using theater to teach teachers how to counteract sexual bias in Southern California classrooms.

The program is put on by Encompass, a non-profit group that focuses on diversity issues in California schools. The actors are students from the LA County High School for the arts.

According to the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, by the time they get to high school, ninety percent of lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgendered students have experienced physical, verbal or sexual harassment at school. Those students are more likely to skip school out of fear, don’t do as well academically as their straight peers, and are less likely to graduate.

In the training, educators watch a scene where homophobic behavior disrupts a classroom and creates stress.  The observers are given insight into the students' inner lives and how they're affected by sexual bias. They're then asked to come up with techniques the teacher might use to make the classroom safer and more inclusive.  The scene is repeated, with the actors using improv to act out the new strategies.  With the teacher in control, things play out differently this time - the bullies dial back their behavior, the name-calling and hate-speech is squelched, and the students are free to focus on their lesson.

Student actor Drew Cameron says, “hopefully teachers are watching this and thinking, here’s some students that are putting on a scene for us. Here are some students who are showing us how to be better teachers. “

… better teachers in a school where every student feels safe to focus on the job of learning.


Inflight Audio: Writer/Producer/Editor

Linda Ronstadt & Ann Savoy: Adieu False Heart

From D. Christine | 29:00

51rlxjwu3zl_small "We wanted to see how many emotions we could get out with our two voices, the way they intermingled," says Ann Savoy -- and mingle they do, stunningly so.  When Savoy joined voices with Linda Ronstadt for a tune on the compilation album 'Evangeline Made: A Tribute to Cajun Music,' they quickly realized they had a musical kinship that needed to be explored further.  

In this 2006 conversation, the two artists talk about making the album 'Adieu False Heart,' which leans heavily on traditional Cajun and bluegrass but also includes like-minded works by contemporary songwriters like Richard Thompson and Julie Miller, as well as a haunting reimagining of the Left Banke's 60's pop hit 'Walk Away Renee.' 
'It's not like any other place in the country,' says Ronstadt of Louisiana, 'There's something in the water that makes it an extraordinary assemblage of musicians, and their music sounds like where they're from...that neighborhood.' Having grown up in a multi-lingual household, she goes on to say, influenced her musical explorations.  "Spanish was the love language," she says, "it's a beautiful, sensuous language to sing in...but I kind of hang onto Ann's coattails when we sing in French!"  

Ronstadt's breathtaking voice and expansive musical canon have taken her from wild-child rock icon through country, folk, Latin, big band and opera.  In 2011 she was honored with a Latin Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. This year, she is being inducted into the 2014 Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame. 

Musicians include Joel Savoy (acoustic guitar, fiddle), Sam Broussard, Chas Justus (acoustic guitar), Sam Bush (mandolin), Andrea Zonn (violin), Stuart Duncan (fiddle), Krista Wilkinson (viola, strings), Dirk Powell (harmonica, accordion, bass guitar) and Byron House (upright bass). 

Jazz on Film

From D. Christine | 29:01

Strangers on a train, partners in crime - the two great art forms of the twentieth century meet. As film composers incorporated new sounds into their scores, jazz greats brought their own brand of cool to the screen - creating some of the most unforgettable film scores of all time.

Playing
Jazz on Film
From
D. Christine

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Alex North's 1951 score for Elia Kazan's 'A Streetcar Named Desire' started it off. Slithering sax and knife-twisting trumpets evoked the steaming-hot streets of New Orleans, the birthplace of jazz, making the music almost a character in itself.  As the fifties went on, established film composers like Henry Mancini, Lalo Schifrin and Leonard and Elmer Bernstein began melding the hip sound of post-war America to a new breed of films.  And music-saavy directors from Louis Malle to Otto Preminger were turning to jazz greats like Duke Ellington, Shorty Rogers and Miles Davis to inject their stories with a daring dose of cool. 

North Wind, South Wind

From D. Christine | 30:00

Instead of fighting the chill, why don’t we revel in it? Carl Byron hosts a musical journey that begins in the far and ancient north, with haunting tunes inspired by Norse legends and Finnish folk tales, then basks in sunnier climes and lighter, funkier beats south of the equator.

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As winter approaches, we find ourselves drawn to the dark and distant places where time began.  Norse legend, Finnish folk tale and ice-bound landscapes combine to produce some of the haunting and evocative music being created today.  Modern Scandinavian artists like Mari Boine, Gjallarhorn and Garmarna meld these ancient elements with electronic instruments and interwoven vocals, inviting you to lose yourself in the ‘Grimborg’ –the  Finnish stone mazes that symbolize life’s journey of discovery. Then, you’ll travel below the equator to warm up on the shores of Rio de Janeiro, with the lighter Latin-flavored beats of Trio Mocotó, Fernanda Abreau and Bossacucanova feat. Marcus Valle.  Chill out - escape the chill - take your mind on an exotic, extended vacation.  


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2017-12-31 Ai Weiwei: Human Flow

From Climate One | Part of the Climate One series | 58:57

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Host: Greg Dalton

 

Guests:
Ai Weiwei, Artist, Filmmaker
Stephan Crawford, founder and executive producer, Climate Music Project
Bill Collins, director, Climate and Ecological Sciences Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

 

Interview with Ai Weiwei was recorded live at The Commonwealth Club in San Francisco on October 3rd, 2017.

Ai Weiwei is an artist who uses many canvases to express himself. From art installations to architecture, social media to the big screen, Ai is one of the most transcendent figures in the world. His latest project, Human Flow, details human migration and the refugee crisis.

The film was shot over the course of a year and covers human movement in 23 countries, people looking for safety and shelter. Whether they’re fleeing from war, politics or climate disruption, Human Flow is a thought-provoking, poignant journey through a harsh reality that large parts of the global population are not yet free.

Ai, whose father was the renowned poet Ai Qing, spent his early years living in political exile with his family in Xingjian, a remote area of China. That experience, he believes, helped him empathize with the hundreds of refugees he interviewed over the course of making the film.

“So since I was very young, I experienced all those very harsh political conditions like the discriminations, all those,” Ai remembers. “So that make me much easier to approach this film, Human Flow, and to see this human tragedy as part of my condition, you know.  I feel there’s some connections in there.”

 

Climate change is one of the factors that has contributed to the global refugee crisis, Ai maintains.  One example? Drought conditions in Syria. “I think before the Syrian war there’s seven years of drought,” says Ai. “Many people think that also contribute to the upheavals in the nation.”

 

Ai’s hope in making Human Flow is to shine a light on a worldwide crisis, “to see humanity as one, you know, human rights as one.

 

“If someone’s right is being violated, we all get hurt,” he continues. “If we don’t have this kind of understanding the problem, you know, someday we all can be get hurt. Because if we only have for this kind of visual condition to see us as one family…then we can have our empathies and we can come up some kind of solutions.”

 Related Links:

 Ai Weiwei

 Human Flow (Official Trailer)

The Climate Music Project

2017-11-26 Bill Nye: Science Guy

From Climate One | Part of the Climate One series | 58:58

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Host: Greg Dalton

Guests:
Bill Nye, Television Host, Science Educator
Jason Sussberg, Filmmaker, Bill Nye: Science Guy

This program was recorded live at Marines' Memorial Theater in San Francisco on November 6, 2017.

As the Science Guy, television’s Bill Nye inspired a generation of children to love science as much as he does. But these days, he’s speaking to a new audience. "Nowadays I’m talking to adults," says Nye, "and I’m not mincing words. The climate is changing, it’s our fault, and we’ve gotta get to work on this!" 

Since ending his program in 1999, Nye and his famous bow tie have taken on a new challenge: stopping the spread of anti-scientific thinking across the world. In a new documentary, director Jason Sussberg shadows Nye as he goes toe-to-toe with outspoken climate deniers and travels the world to show the causes and effects of climate change.

A recent Climate One audience, largely made up of young admirers, was entertained by Nye as he related stories from his travels and explorations, and offered advice for aspiring young scientists.

 

“I became an engineer because I like bicycles and airplanes,” Nye told them. “They’re fun.”

He went on to challenge them to use their ideas to make the world a better place.

“There’s three things we want for everybody in the world,” Nye said. “We want clean water, renewably produced reliable electricity, and access to the …with those three things we could, I believe provide a high-quality life for everyone on earth. [And] for that…we’re gonna need everybody working together.”

Nye’s enthusiasm was contagious as he exhorted the rapt audience to “get ‘er done!”

“So we are in charge here,” he reminded them. “We are running the planet, and we have to take responsibility for it. 

“And so it is terrifying and cool.  It is sobering and empowering and you are gonna be a big part of that.  Go get ‘em.  Save the world!”

 

– Anny Celsi

 

Related Links:

Bill Nye: Science Guy (Film)

 

2017-09-17 Harvey and Irma: A Hurricane’s Human Fingerprints

From Climate One | Part of the Climate One series | 58:59

From Katrina and Sandy to Harvey, Irma and José - how is climate change fueling these increasingly destructive hurricanes? Greg Dalton and his guests delve into the politics, costs and human causes of the megastorms pummeling our planet.

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Host: Greg Dalton

Guests:
Brian Schatz, US Senator, (D-HI)
Ben Santer, Climate Researcher, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

John Englander, Author, High Tide on Main Street: Rising Sea Level and the Coming Coastal Crisis (Science Bookshelf, 2012)
Angela Fritz, Manager, Weather Underground  

Kathryn Sullivan, former NOAA Administrator
Hunter Cutting, Director of Strategic Communications, Climate Nexus

Don Cameron, Manager, Terranova Ranch
Barton Thompson, Professor of Natural Resources, Stanford Law School 

In this special program, Climate One takes a microscope to the human fingerprints left by Katrina, Sandy, Harvey and Irma, reaching into our archive of experts to examine the causes of our ever-wilder weather patterns.

 

With all the media coverage surrounding Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, there’s been very little discussion about how our species has contributed to this recipe for destruction. But the evidence is overwhelming that human activity has turned up the heat on the planet, whipping the ingredients for a hurricane into overdrive. Kathryn Sullivan, former head of NOAA under President Obama, described it as “stovetop science” when she visited Climate One in early 2017.

 

“So, the energy that drives weather in our planet is the heat coming in from the sun,” Sullivan explains, “the moisture content of the atmosphere…rotation of the earth, all of the swirling that that introduces.

 

“So we’re dialing up the extra heat in the atmosphere…it's really stovetop science working on the planetary scale.” 

 

Recently, as Hurricane Irma was barreling down on Florida, Greg Dalton spoke with U.S. Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii.  He asked Schatz, a Democrat, if the force of two megastorms pummeling our country is enough to change hearts and minds in Washington about the causes of climate change.

 

Schatz thinks that there are “probably a dozen Republicans who would like to do the right thing on climate. 

 

“They understand that this is an urgent matter,” he continues. “Whether you want to call it climate change or increasing frequency of severe weather, there's a recognition that the weather is getting worse, and it's because of what we’re doing to the atmosphere.”

 

And, he adds, Americans no longer have the luxury of dismissing its effects.

 

 

“There is a deep immorality in ignoring what is real and what is happening. And the fact that it’s getting worse and causing real human suffering and also having a terrible impact fiscally on the federal treasury, you know, is gonna require us to act.”