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Fresh Air

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May 31, 2021

50 Years Of Philadelphia International Records

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TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia) was the theme from ‘Soul Train,’ and was one of the many hits written and produced by Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff for Philadelphia International Records, the label they co-founded. The label is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. They recorded The O’Jays, Patti LaBelle, Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, Teddy Pendergrass, Billy Paul, McFadden and Whitehead, Soul Survivors and more. We’ll listen back to the interview Terry Gross recorded with Gamble and Huff in 2008, in which they talked about their partnership, their label, and some of their greatest recordings.

Also, Kevin Whitehead reviews the album ‘Black to Future’ by the London quartet Sons of Kemet.

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Dawnie Walton’s novel, ‘The Final Revival of Opal & Nev,’ is a faux oral history about a ’70s interracial rock duo. Opal is a Black proto Afro-punk singer from Detroit, and Nev is a goofy white British singer-songwriter. Walton was inspired by Grace Jones, Betty Davis, Elton John and Bowie. We talk with Walton about how her career in journalism and her taste in music growing up informed the book.

Maureen Corrigan reviews 2 suspense novels: ‘A Lonely Man,’ by Chris Power, and ‘The Plot,’ by Jean Hanff Korelitz.

Juneteenth, formerly Emancipation Day or Jubilee, celebrates the day slavery ended in Texas, June 19, 1865. Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Annette Gordon-Reed studies the early American republic and the legacy of slavery. Her book is ‘On Juneteenth.’

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The music duo Rachael & Vilray perform songs from their debut album — new songs written by Vilray that could have been on the radio in the ’30s and ’40s, and songs from the ’20s and ’30s.

We’ll also hear from Loudon Wainwright III and Vince Giordano. They teamed up last year to record an album of songs written by Fats Waller, Harold Arlen and others. It’s called ‘I’d Rather Lead a Band.’

Also, Justin Chang reviews ‘Cruella,’ the origin story of Cruella de Vil, starring Emma Stone.

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May 27, 2021

How States Are Making It Harder To Vote

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‘New York Times’ reporter Nick Corasaniti says Republican-led state legislatures are restricting voting and seizing more power over how elections are run — making previously non-partisan jobs political.

David Bianculli reviews three documentaries the commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa race massacre.

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May 26, 2021

‘Exonerated Five’ Member Yusef Salaam

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In 1990, Yusef Salaam was one of the five boys wrongly convicted in the so-called Central Park jogger case. Salaam spent nearly 7 years behind bars and wasn’t exonerated until 2002, when a serial rapist confessed to the crime. “When the truth came out, that’s when we got our lives back,” Salaam says. “But for those of us who had five to 10 years prison sentences, we had done all of someone else’s time. … We will never know what our life would have been like had we not gone through this horrible experience.” Salaam tells his story in his memoir ‘Better, Not Bitter.’

And podcast critic Nick Quah reviews a stunning new series called ‘The Line.’

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May 25, 2021

The History Of Juneteenth

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Juneteenth, formerly Emancipation Day or Jubilee, celebrates the day slavery ended in Texas, June 19, 1865. Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Annette Gordon-Reed studies the early American republic and the legacy of slavery. “It was a very, very tense time — hope and at the same time, hostility,” Gordon-Reed says. Her book is ‘On Juneteenth.’

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May 24, 2021

‘Opal & Nev’ Author Dawnie Walton

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Dawnie Walton’s novel, ‘The Final Revival of Opal & Nev,’ is a faux oral history about a ’70s interracial rock duo. Opal is a Black proto Afro-punk singer from Detroit, and Nev is a goofy white British singer-songwriter. Walton was inspired by Grace Jones, Betty Davis, Elton John and Bowie. We talk with Walton about how her career in journalism and her taste in music growing up informed the book.

And John Powers reviews ‘Whitstable Pearl,’ a crime drama on Acorn TV.

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May 22, 2021

Best Of: Seth Rogen / Jean Smart

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Seth Rogen returns to talk about his new memoir, ‘Yearbook,’ which is filled with funny and surprising stories — starting with the first time he did stand-up when he was 12 and continuing through his life and film career. He’s produced, directed, written and starred in many films, including ‘Knocked Up,’ ‘Superbad,’ and ‘The Interview.’

Justin Chang reviews the Indian film ‘The Disciple’ about an aspiring classical singer.

Jean Smart’s breakout role was on the ’80s sitcom ‘Designing Women.’ She’s had recent great roles as the head of a crime family on ‘Fargo’ and as an FBI agent on ‘Watchmen.’ Now she co-stars in the HBO series ‘Mare of Easttown’ and stars in HBO Max comedy ‘Hacks,’ as a veteran comic forced to update her act.

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4.6
Total: 5
KH
Kellie Harper
Dec 26, 2019

Nice job! It was really cool story!

DT
Doron Tamari
Dec 19, 2019

LW
Leah Weiss
Dec 16, 2019

AR
Alan Ragus
Dec 12, 2019

MG
Michael Goland
Dec 09, 2019

The guest are awesome and diverse. Even if you haven't listened in a while, you can always go back through their catalog of episodes and find a good interview.

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.