Arts and Culture | Nashville Public Radio

Arts and Culture

Mack Linebaugh / WPLN

Thanksgiving weekend: the perfect time to catch up on your favorite TV shows, books and, of course, podcasts. In case you haven't heard, Nashville Public Radio has ventured boldly into the podcasting world with our own three shows. We're also addicted to a number of shows not produced by us.

Mississippi Millie McLaine is an iconic Delta blues singer and musician. Born in Columbus, Mississippi, she moved to Pennsylvania at the age of 9 and there saw her career take off. Now 74 years old, she sits down with her friend Don Swartz Jr. to talk about the instruments she played as a child, and the history of the Delta Blues.

In the late 1970s, a group of gay men known as the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence began the Radical Faerie Movement in an effort to create communities for homosexuals cast out by society. The movement began in San Francisco and has generated many congregations worldwide, one of which sits in Short Mountain, Tennessee. Soami de Lux, one of the founding members of the Sisters, and his friend Gabby Haze discuss the creation and culture of the Short Mountain Sanctuary.

In 1994, Davidson County elected its first female sheriff, Gayle Ray, shocking many people while making Tennessee history. Former Sheriff Ray is interviewed by her son, Austin, about the day she was elected and what it meant to break a gender barrier in Nashville.

Del Bryant is the son of Boudleaux and Felice Bryant, famous Nashville songwriters for their work in the days of the Grand Ole Opry. Del is interviewed by his wife, Carolyn Smith Bryant, about how his parents met and the important role they played in country music.

Maysoon Shocair Ali is a Syrian-born doctor who has been living and practicing medicine in Waverly, Tennessee for more than forty years. Her daughter, Yasmine Ali, sits down with her mother to talk about her life in Syria and making Tennessee her home.

Tony Gonzalez / WPLN

How do you translate Beyoncé into sign language?

This is the kind of quandary that Scott Baker deals with as an ASL interpreter. He says, when he was working at a Beyoncé concert in Nashville, it was a lot about interpreting her visual expression as much as her lyrics. But really, any performance is difficult to translate — especially Shakespeare. He talked to WPLN's Emily Siner in our live series and podcast Movers & Thinkers about interpreting one mind-bending scene.

Tony Gonzalez / WPLN

Banjo player Abigail Washburn has devoted much of her craft to bridging the divide between the United States and China. The Nashville-based artist performs in both countries and writes songs in both languages. Some people, it turns out, are more excited about that work than others.

Washburn talked to WPLN's Emily Siner in our live series and podcast Movers & Thinkers about the challenge of interpreting music from one culture to another.

courtesy Leon Russell Records

Leon Russell never was exactly a household name. But Elton John called the piano player and songwriter his idol. "He's the master, I'm the pupil," he said.

Leon Russell was a musician who worked his way to stardom and then nearly faded into obscurity. He died in his sleep over the weekend in Nashville.

Courtesy of Marjorie Eastman

Editor's note: Among the thousands of Americans who decided to join the military after 9/11 was Marjorie Eastman. Now living in Nashville, she recently wrote a book called The Frontline Generation that explores how her time as an Army captain shaped her and how the military has, in some ways, become more progressive than society at large.

As part of our series on identity and culture, Eastman reads an excerpt about a surprising encounter when she was boarding a plane in Texas after returning home from Afghanistan.