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Manuel Cuevas with Johnny Cash
Photo courtesy of Morelia Cuevas via StoryCorps

Manuel, Country Music Tailor, Honored By NEA For 'Indispensable' Work

Nashville tailor Manuel Cuevas, the maker of rhinestone-studded suits worn by entertainers like Elvis Presley and Jack White, is receiving one of the nation's highest honors for folk artists. The National Endowment for the Arts announced this week that he has won its National Heritage Fellowship, one of only 10 people who'll receive the honor this year.

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greeblie via Flickr

Tennessee drivers received 102,000 seat belt citations in 2014 — 30,000 more than the year before. According to the Tennessee Highway Patrol, the increasing enforcement of seat belt laws is part of its effort to bring down the number traffic deaths.

By the end of 2014, 952 people died in Tennessee as part of vehicle crashes, compared to 986 in 2013. It’s still too many, says Sgt. Bill Miller, a spokesman for the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

“They’re not numbers to us,” he says. “They’re friends. They’re family.”

Courtesy Father Ryan High School

The year 1965 was a strange one for black high school sports in Tennessee. The association governing black teams had folded into the white one, but African-American schools weren’t full members yet. They couldn’t play for the state championship for another year. The games were still segregated, but two coaches weren’t interested in waiting.

Grand Ole Opry

Since 1948, Little Jimmy Dickens was a mainstay at the Grand Ole Opry, including a show he played Dec. 20 to celebrate his 94th birthday.

The 4-foot-11 singer was known for his sense of humor, even in songs, often cracking jokes about his stature.

“I’m puny, short and little but I’m loud,” he sang in one of his oldest hits.

Other tunes had lines like “may the bird of paradise fly up your nose.” A song called “Take an Old Cold Tater and Wait” won him the nickname “Tater.”

Blake Farmer / WPLN (File photo)

The happy new year was also a happy birthday for hundreds of refugees who now call Nashville home. Many asylum seekers are assigned January 1st when they can’t prove their date of birth.

Hussien Mohamud had more friends than he could possibly handle celebrating birthdays this week. “On my Facebook, 1,056 friends of mine get their birthday on that particular day, so it’s ridiculous,” he says.

voteprime via Flickr

For the second year in a row, murders hit a historic low in Nashville. There were just 41 criminal homicides in Nashville in 2014. That’s the smallest figure since the county and city governments consolidated in 1963, when police tracked 45 murders.

The highest year for murders in Nashville was 1997 when 112 people were killed.

Police chief Steve Anderson gives some credit to a recent focus on curtailing domestic violence. Just four of the murders from 2014 involved intimate partners. In 2013, there were nine.

Katy Campen / 100 Girls of Code

Technology companies in Middle Tennessee will be working more with high schools and community colleges this year, thanks to an $850,000 grant from the state. The goal is to get more students thinking about careers in information technology — that’s anything from coding computer programs to managing data centers or working at a telecomm company.

According to the Nashville Technology Council, which received the funding, only about 600 students currently take IT classes at local community colleges. That’s nowhere near the demand for jobs in the field, it said in its budget proposal.

TWRA via Facebook

Tennessee outdoor enthusiasts are resisting a proposal to increase the cost of hunting licenses in the state, even though it’s the first fee-hike in a decade.

Brian Brew is a taxidermist from Spring Hill who also runs several online forums for hunters. “I don’t know if I’ve seen one positive post made about it,” he says.

Highwoods Properties

Bridgestone Americas’ decision to move its headquarters from the airport area to downtown Nashville illustrates a larger trend: more businesses are eyeing downtown relocations and more inventory there is being prepared for office tenants.

Two big downtown buildings, the UBS Tower and the AT&T Tower, are being renovated for spiffier office digs, and Bridgestone is promising to bring 1,700 workers to downtown.

U.S. Army/Sgt. Ange Desinor

On January 1, the World Health Organization will be reinstated as the lead element in training health care workers in how to handle Ebola patients, taking over for a team led by Fort Campbell troops.

Since arriving in late October, Defense Department teams have trained some 1,500 doctors, nurses and even clean-up crews from Liberia and around the world.

Col. Laura Favand from the 86th Combat Support Hospital at Fort Campbell is the chief of training and says groups on the ground were already doing a good job of improving hygiene and changing burial practices.

Spc. Rashene Mincy / U.S. Army

The U.S. military’s mission to build tent hospitals and train health care workers to handle Ebola is coming to an end sooner than first thought. But as 700 Fort Campbell soldiers begin making their way home from Liberia, where they’ve been leading the Defense Department’s response, they still have a three-week isolation period to endure.

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The Promise: Life, Death and Change in the Projects

This WPLN special series podcast explores life in public housing, in the middle of a city on the rise.

The Latest from Classical 91.1

Kara McLeland / Nashville Public Radio

This week in Studio C, the spotlight was on students who are wrapping up nearly a month of intense study at the Tennessee Governor's School for the Arts. Of the 331 teenagers at the school this year, 166 are studying music. A handful of those students stopped by to give performances of the repertoire they've been working on. 

Becky Cohen / Courtesy of The Pauline Oliveros Trust

Queer composers have been creating music throughout history. Archaic Greek poet Sappho, for instance, was penning homoerotic song lyrics on the island of Lesbos as early as the 7th century BC. In many cases, though, the politics of culture and time may have prevented them from being completely open about their identities—and musicologists have for years pondered and debated over the sexual orientation of some of classical music history’s biggest names.

Kara McLeland / Nashville Public Radio

Each summer since 1985, talented students from all over Tennessee have gathered in Murfreesboro for a month-long residency arts program, mentored by some of the best faculty members from the state and beyond. And each summer, we look forward to welcoming musicians from the Tennessee Governor's School of the Arts to Live in Studio C. This week features music from the school's faculty; next week, we'll hear from their students. 

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