Southeast Public Radio Announces Programming Celebrating Black History Month

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Southeast Public Radio will broadcast several specials commemorating Black History Month every Sunday at 9 a.m. during the month of February.

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Jan. 22, 2007 — Southeast Public Radio will broadcast several specials commemorating Black History Month every Sunday at 9 a.m. during the month of February.

In addition, Southeast Public Radio’s local classical music program, “A Musical Meander,” will present a special with James “Kimo” Williams at 8 p.m. Feb. 15.

Gulf Coast Blues: The Clarence Williams StoryFeb. 4

Born in the Mississippi Delta in the late 1890s, pianist Clarence Williams was Creole and Choctaw Indian. As an adult, he produced and performed on thousands of recordings with artists who became legends ᾰ Bessie Smith, Fats Waller, Sidney Bechet, Louis Armstrong and more ᾰ but he took credit for composing a long list of jazz standards.

Hosted by David Holt and starring The Jim Cullum Jazz Band and special guests Vernel Bagneris and Topsy Chapman, “Gulf Coast Blues: The Clarence Williams Story” chronicles Williams’ life with all of its contradictions. Was he a prolific composer or just a hustler and occasional song thief? “Gulf Coast Blues” reveals that, like the story of New Orleans itself, Clarence Williams is a study in opposites.

The Life and Times of Zora Neale HurstonFeb. 11

Zora Neale Hurston was both a scholar and an artist when black women were expected to be neither. She defied the criticism of her Harlem Renaissance contemporaries by presenting an un-sanitized depiction of rural southern blacks in her books and folklore collections. She would pay a huge personal price before ultimately becoming one of the most acclaimed personalities associated with the artistic movement.

“The Life and Times of Zora Neale Hurston” is an absorbing hour-long examination of one of America’s most celebrated writers. Actress Vanessa Williams hosts the documentary, illuminating the life and works of the Florida folklorist, novelist and playwright. The program also shares the insights of historians and biographers, while evoking 1920s black America through music and dramatic readings of Hurston’s work.

A Musical Meander presents ‘Buffalo Soldiers’Feb. 15 at 8 p.m.

Host Alan Journet will play the CD the “Buffalo Soldiers” and interview Kimo Williams about his interest in classical music and this composition. So named out of respect and admiration by Native Americans whom they were sent to fight in defense of white western settlers, the 19th Century Buffalo Soldiers were the 9th and 10th U.S. Cavalry regiments. These regiments were composed of black American freed men.

African American composer and Chicago resident James ‘Kimo’ Williams currently serves as a full time faculty member at Columbia College Chicago, teaching and coordinating the Music Business Curriculum in Arts Entertainment and Media Management.  His early years were influenced by a father who was a career Air Force sergeant. Following graduation from high school in Hawaii, Kimo enlisted in the Army and served in Vietnam.  During these years, he learned the guitar – inspired by his hero Jimi Hendrix. 

In November 1991, Kimos’ full orchestra score “Symphony for the Sons of Nam” was one of three scores selected for a reading session in a national search for African-American composers by the Savannah and Detroit Symphony Orchestras. His new score “Buffalo Soldiers,” resulting from a commission by The West Point Academy to celebrate their 2002 Bicentennial, was premiered February 1999 at West Point. This score, along with narratives based on speeches by Abraham Lincoln and Gen. Colin Powell, honors the Buffalo Soldier of the 1800s. 

A Tribute to Medgar EversFeb. 18www.everstribute.org 

Medgar Evers, the NAACP’s Mississippi field secretary in the 1950s and early 1960s, fought valiantly for equal rights throughout one of the most segregated states in the union. His efforts to end racial discrimination cost him his life ᾰ he was assassinated in June of 1963.Hosted by Teresa Collier, “A Tribute to Medgar Evers” salutes the activist’s life and work with a magnificent concert, performed Feb. 7, 2006, by the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Music Director Crafton Beck. The orchestra is joined by The Mississippi Mass Choir and The Mississippi Girlchoir.

The concert includes inspiring choral pieces and reflective orchestral works, and features CBS News Correspondent Randall Pinkston narrating “The Words and Life of Medgar Evers,” compiled by Maestro Beck and set to music by James Horner (“Field of Dreams”). Pinkston also voices “New Morning for the World: Daybreak of Freedom” by Joseph Schwantner and “We Shall Overcome” from “Done Made My Vow” by Adolphus Hailstork.

W.C. Handy’s BluesFeb. 25

William Christopher (better known as “W.C.”) Handy didn’t invent the blues, but he heard them in a deep, comprehending way. He figured out how they worked, wrote down and arranged them, and brought them to the world.

Hosted by Dr. Ysaye Maria Barnwell, “W.C. Handy’s Blues” is chock full of Handy’s timeless music, including “St. Louis Blues,” one of the world’s most recorded songs. As the program reveals, Handy was one of the first African American composers to retain the rights to his music, publishing his own work and that of other black composers. His Handy Brothers Music Company is still in business on Broadway.

“W.C. Handy’s Blues” features interviews with the legendary composer; his grandson, Dr. Carlos Handy; Ellis Marsalis, Richard Johnson and other musicians; Dan Morgenstern, Rutgers University director of the Institute of Jazz Studies, historians and others.

Southeast Public Radio is a National Public Radio member station. The station is located on the campus of Southeast Missouri State University and broadcasts on 90.9 FM, KRCU, in Cape Girardeau and 88.9 FM, KSEF, in Farmington. More information can be found at http://www.southeastpublicradio.org.