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Ep #90 – Jorge Amado: The Ballad of Bahia

Ep #90 – Jorge Amado: The Ballad of Bahia

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Jorge Amado, the beloved Brazilian author of Gabriela, Clove and Cinnamon, Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands, Tent of Miracles – wrote over 30 books in his lifetime. His works have been translated into 49 languages and adapted for film, television, and theater.

In 1984, The Kitchen Sisters interviewed Jorge Amado, his wife Zelia Gattai, Brazilian composer and singer Dorival Caymmi, and singer and activist Harry Belafonte as part of the NPR series “Faces Mirrors Masks – 20th Century Latin American Fiction.” The Ballad of Bahia explores the life and writings of the author through interviews, music and readings and dramatizations of his work.

Ep #89: Poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti — Celebrating 99 Years

Ep #89: Poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti — Celebrating 99 Years

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In honor of poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s 99th birthday we celebrate with Rivers of Memory, produced by Jim McKee of Earwax Productions. Over the last 20 years, Jim McKee has been chronicling Lawrence and Lawrence’s good friend radio dramatist Erik Bauersfeld (voice of Star Wars’ Admiral Ackbar). Set to a rich soundscape that travels throughout San Francisco, the piece features poetry, interviews, and overheard conversations about Ferlinghetti’s life, work, the San Francisco beat culture, Ferlinghetti’s fight for First Amendment rights and more.

Lawrence Ferlinghetti, opened City Lights bookstore in 1953, one of the first paperback bookstores. He also began publishing the Pocket Poet Series featuring poems by Beat Poets of the 1950s and 60s. In 1956 he published “Howl and Other Poems,” by Allen Ginsberg and was brought to trial on obscenity charges. The landmark first amendment case paved the way for the publication of other “banned books.”

San Francisco luminary and famed poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti in the middle, sound designer Jim McKee on left, dramatist Erik Bauersfeld on right

San Francisco luminary and famed poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti in the middle, sound designer Jim McKee on left, dramatist Erik Bauersfeld on right

Ep #88 – Frances McDormand Hosts Hidden Kitchens

Ep #88 – Frances McDormand Hosts Hidden Kitchens

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Two-time Academy Award winning actress Frances McDormand hosts Hidden Kitchens—secret, underground, below the radar cooking—how communities come together through food. Stories of NASCAR Kitchens, Hunting and Gathering with Angelo Garro, listeners calls to the Hidden Kitchens hotline and more.


**NASCAR Kitchens—Feed the Speed: Behind every car race is a kitchen—hidden in the crew pit, or tucked between the hauler and the trailer of the trucks that transport NASCAR and Indy cars from city to city. Public radio listener Jon Wheeler cooks for the drivers, haulers, pit crews, sponsors and owners on the racing circuit. He called the Hidden Kitchens hotline line to tell us about his world.


**Hunting & Gathering with Angelo Garro: Blacksmith, Angelo Garro forges and forages, recreating in wrought iron and in cooking the life he left behind in Sicily. The Kitchen Sisters join Garro along the coast of Northern California as he follows the seasons, harvesting the wild for his kitchen and his friends.

Ep #87 – Guillermo Cabrera Infante: Memories of an Invented City

Ep #87 – Guillermo Cabrera Infante: Memories of an Invented City

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A sound portrait of Cuban writer Guillermo Cabrera Infante, a one-time leader in the Cuban cultural revolution who fell from favor and went into exile in London in 1965.

Intense and compelling, Cabrera Infante was passionate about cinema, satire, puns, tongue twisters, and about his lost love — Cuba. In 1967 he wrote his best-known work — Three Trapped Tigers — a steamy, experimental journey into 1950s nightlife in Havana.

In the 1970s he suffered a massive mental breakdown and was treated with electroshock and lithium.

He was the author of over a dozen books, translated James Joyce’s Dubliners into Spanish, and wrote a screenplay adaptation of Under Volcano and the script for the film Vanishing Point.

Cabrera Infante’s cinematic, jazz-like writing, comes to life in this story rich with music and interviews with cinematographer Nestor Almendros, painter Jesse Fernandez, activist Saul Landau, and the writer himself. Actors Lazaro Perez, and Ilka Tanya Payan are heard in dramatizations from Cabrera Infante’s acclaimed novel, “Tres Triestes Tigres.”

Cabrera Infante lived in London with his wife Miriam Gomez until his death in 2005.

Produced by The Kitchen Sisters as part of NPR’s series Faces, Mirrors, Masks: Twentieth Century Latin American Fiction.

Episode #86: The Mardi Gras Indians—Stories from New Orleans

Episode #86: The Mardi Gras Indians—Stories from New Orleans

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Tootie Montana

Tootie Montana


Jelly Roll Morton talks of being a “Spy Boy” in the Mardi Gras Indian parades of his youth. Bo Dollis, of the Wild Magnolias, tells of sewing his suit of feathers and beads all night long. Tootie Montana masks for the first time after Mardi Gras started up again after being cancelled during World War II. Big Queen Ausettua makes connections between the black Mardi Gras Indian traditions of New Orleans and Africa. Sister Alison McCrary, a Catholic nun and social justice attorney, tells of Big Chief Tootie Montana’s death at the podium in City Council Chambers defending the rights of the Mardi Gras Indians to parade without harassment.

A collection of stories and interviews in honor of the Mardi Gras Indian tradition in New Orleans. With thanks to the Library of Congress, Nick Spitzer and American Routes, WWOZ and all of the Keepers of the Mardi Gras Indian Culture.

Jelly Roll Morton

Jelly Roll Morton


Big Queen Ausettua, Photo by Marcello Amari

Big Queen Ausettua, Photo by Marcello Amari

Back by Popular Demand / Kitchen Sisters Interviewing, Recording & Podcasting Workshop / Thursday Feb. 8

Back by Popular Demand / Kitchen Sisters Interviewing, Recording & Podcasting Workshop / Thursday Feb. 8

Time again for The Kitchen Sisters Interviewing, Recording & Podcasting Workshop. Davia Nelson is holding a new one Thursday, February 8 at Francis Coppola’s historic Zoetrope building in San Francisco. This three-hour session is designed for those who want to acquire and hone their skills for an array of audio projects — radio, podcasts, online stories, storytelling, oral histories, audio slideshows, family histories, news, documentaries and other multimedia platforms.

In the Workshop, Davia covers interviewing and miking techniques, sound gathering, use of archival audio, field recording techniques, recording equipment, how to make interviewees comfortable, how to frame evocative questions that make for compelling storytelling, how to build a story, and how to listen (which is harder than it looks). We also talk podcasting. Serious talk about getting your podcast going and giving it a real sound.

The workshop is customized to fit the projects you are working on. People who have attended in the past have come from radio, film, multimedia, detective agencies, newspapers, journalism, photography, oral history, historical societies, farms, music, ophthalmology, writing, libraries, archives, beer brewing, web design, restaurants, health care organizations, film, cheese-making and beyond. The groups are always lively and good contacts are made.

Morning Workshop: 10:00 am – 1:00 pm.
Cost: $150.00.
Tickets available through our friends at Eventbrite.

The workshop is in North Beach at 916 Kearny St. Of course, snacks will be served.

Please pass this announcement along to your community.

Expand your skills, meet new people, support the work of The Kitchen Sisters.


Episode #85: House of Night: The Lost Creation Songs of the Mojave People

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The story of an aging pile of forgotten reel-to-reel tapes discovered on the shelf of a tribal elder on the Fort Mojave Reservation. Recorded by an amateur ethnographer in the 1960s, these tapes of the last Creation Song singer of the tribe recount the legends and origin of the Mojave people. They are oral maps of the desert region that were instrumental in helping to save the Ward Valley from becoming a nuclear waste dump site.

In the 1960s, a CBS radio engineer out of Los Angeles, drove out to the Colorado River Indian Reservation in Parker, Arizona with his portable reel-to-reel tape recorder with the idea of recording the Mojave Indians. There he met Emmett Van Fleet, an elder of the tribe and the last of the Creation Song singers. Over the course of several years, Guy Tyler made his weekend pilgrimages, and slowly and meticulously the two men recorded the 525 song cycle that recounts the legend of the creation and origin of the Mojave people, their traditions, and their oral maps that describe historical journeys, sacred sites, and directions about how to safely cross the Mojave Desert. Emmett Van Fleet left the tapes to his nephew Llewllyn Barrackman. As years went by and technology changed, the tapes were unplayed and forgotten until Phillip Klasky and the Storyscape Project worked to get the the tapes transferred and preserved.

In 1995, when action was taken to turn Ward Valley into a nuclear waste dump, traditional Mojave songs and song cycles helped save the endangered Ward Valley and Colorado River by proving the historic connection the Mojave have with this sacred land.

In 1999 The Kitchen Sisters travelled to the Mojave Reservation with writer and environmentalist Phil Klasky, to meet with LLewllyn Barrackman and other Mojave elders, birdsong singers and activists in the Ward Valley struggle.

Produced with Phillip Klasky, Director of the Storyscape Project.

Coming in 2018: The Keepers / Help Meet Our Match

Coming in 2018: The Keepers / Help Meet Our Match


“People are always like, ‘Tell us why you like libraries.’ And it’s like why you like food — because it keeps you alive.”   — Colson Whitehead

Dear Friends,

Greetings at year’s end. We write to wish you well and to thank you for your support and spirit. We are about to embark on a new NPR and podcast series, The Keepers — stories of activist archivists, rogue librarians, curators, collectors and historians. Keepers of the culture and the cultures and collections they keep. Guardians of history, large and small, protectors of the free flow of information and ideas, eccentric individuals who take it upon themselves to preserve some part of our cultural heritage. The Keepers will premiere on Morning Edition, with a listenership of some 14 million people, early in 2018.

A generous group of donors, The Council of Keepers, including Susan Sillins, Susie Franklin, Barbara & Howard Wollner, has committed a matching challenge of $30,000 to bring these stories to air and inspire our supporters. Please help us raise this match.

This new series promises to be one of our most timely and powerful — a series of truth-seeking, richly layered, lushly produced stories that you, our community, make possible. We ask for your support for this new, compelling collection of stories and invite your tips and suggestions for who and what needs chronicling.

Please make a tax-deductible contribution to The Kitchen Sisters Productions today. With The Council of Keepers match your gift will be doubled.

Thank you for supporting the stories.

Nikki & Davia



Photo courtesy of Public Library of Cincinnati & Hamilton County

Ep #84: Levee Stream Live from New Orleans

Ep #84: Levee Stream Live from New Orleans

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Nikki, Davia, host Cole Williams, Jamal Cyrus from Otabenga Jones & Associates


Levee Stream— a live neighborhood pop-up, Cadillac, radio station installation in New Orleans. Presented by Otabenga Jones & Associates and The Kitchen Sisters in collaboration with Project& as part of Prospect.4 New Orleans, an international exhibit of 73 artists creating artworks and events throughout New Orleans.

Part block party, part soap box—Levee Stream is a lively mix of music, DJs, and conversations with artists, activists, civil rights leaders, neighborhood entrepreneurs and visionaries taking place in the back seat of a cut-in-half 1959 pink Cadillac Coup de Ville with giant speakers in the trunk on Bayou Road, one of the oldest roads in the city.

Hosted by WWOZ DJ Cole Williams the show features interviews with Robert King and Albert Woodfox, members of the Angola 3 who were released from prison after decades of living in solitary confinement. Civil Rights pioneers Leona Tate and A.P. Tureaud Jr. Prospect.4 curator Trevor Schoonmaker and artists Hank Willis Thomas, Maria Berrio, and Jeff Whetstone. With music by legendary Hammond B3 organ player Joe Krown, contemporary jazz luminaries Kidd and Marlon Jordan,The Jones Sisters, DJ RQ Away and DJ Flash Gordon Parks.



DJ RQ Away


Davia with Jeff Whetstone


Davia with Prospect.4 Artistic Director Trevor Schoonmaker


The Jones Sisters


Houston’s DJ Flash Gordon Parks


Joe Krown


Marlon Jordan


Jamal Cyrus from Otabenga Jones & Associates with Hank Willis Thomas


History of Conquest by Hank Willis Thomas


Wildflowers by Maria Berrio

Support the Stories / An Archival Calling

Support the Stories / An Archival Calling

Photo postcard of Annie Wooten, circa 1920s from the Amistad Research Center, Tulane University

Photo postcard of Annie Wooten, circa 1920s from the Amistad Research Center, Tulane University

“My archival calling was, I believe, part of my spiritual calling.”
-Brenda Billups Square

Last week, we shared a story from New Orleans. The story of Leona Tate, who as a six-year-old was one of the first African American children to integrate an all-white school in New Orleans. Today we share a moment from a story about Brenda Billups Square, co-pastor of Beecher Memorial Congregational United Church of Christ and an archivist documenting New Orleans.

In 2018, we will be spending many hours with people like Brenda, as we embark on a new series for NPR called The Keepers — stories of activist archivists, rogue librarians, collectors, curators and historians — keepers of the culture and the culture and collections they keep.

We are asking for your support to help create this rich, surprising, timely series about the people and stories behind collecting and protecting our history and culture.