In the early 1950s, at the same time legendary record producer Sam Phillips was making recordings of the pageants and events happening in Memphis’ white community—across town, R.A. Coleman, an African American photographer, was making recordings of the black community—weddings, church choirs, nightclubs and dance halls.
Sam Phillips and the Early Years of the Memphis Recording Service
Before Elvis walked through the door, before Sun Studios put Memphis on the map—Sam Phillips, a young man with a tape recorder, lived by the motto, “We Record Anything, Anywhere, Anytime.” Weddings, funerals, marching bands, the Miss Memphis Pageant—Sam recorded them all—anything to keep his fledgling Memphis Recording Service open to record Howlin’ Wolf, B.B. King, Little Junior, Ike Turner, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Elvis Presley. The raw and rocking, unrecorded music of the 1950s South.
She rose every day at dusk and rehearsed, performed, ate and drank until dawn. Then slept all day, woke up and began to create and unravel again as the sun went down. Nearly every song Edith Piaf sang came from a moment of her life on the streets of Paris. She would tell her composer and musician lovers a story, or describe a feeling or show them a gesture and they would put music and words to her pain and passion, giving her back her own musical autobiography. Charles Aznavour, Francis Lai, Georges Moustaki, Henri Contet, some of France’s great musicians and writers recall their nights with Edith Piaf.
Produced by The Kitchen Sisters in collaboration with Raquel Bitton, who hosts and translates the program.
Fugitive Waves is one of 10 podcasts in the Radiotopia Collective, some of the best story-driven podcasts on earth. 99% Invisible, The Truth, Love & Radio,Theory of Everything, Strangers, Radio Diaries, and us, The Kitchen Sisters. Come January you’ll also be hearing Criminals, Mortified, The Illusionist and Heart. Love Funding for this episode comes from Mothlight Creative and Audible.com. Funding for Radiotopia comes from Mailchimp and The Knight Foundation and from all of you who backed the Kickstarter campaign that kicked some serious support. Thank you.
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The Kitchen Sisters take us to a little-known, hidden corner of London — to Eel Pie Island, a tiny slice of land in the middle of the Thames. Now a small bohemian community of artists, inventors, river gypsies and boat builders, on the edge of Twickenham, Eel Pie Island has a flamboyant history that stretches from Henry VIII to The Rolling Stones.
Eel Pie Island is produced by The Kitchen Sisters with Nathan Dalton, mixed by Jim McKee / The Hidden World of Kate McGarrigle, produced by the Kitchen Sisters
Fugitive Waves is produced by The Kitchen Sisters in collaboration with Tom Corwin
Today, we join an esteemed and eccentric group of producers in launching Radiotopia from PRX. Radiotopia is a gathering of the best story-driven, creative, cutting-edge radio shows on earth — shows like 99% Invisible, The Truth, Strangers, Theory of Everything, Love and Radio, Radio Diaries and our new project, Fugitive Waves. Producers Roman Mars, Jonathan Mitchell, Lea Thau, Benjamin Walker, Nick van der Kolk, Joe Richman and The Kitchen Sisters have banded together with PRX to create this new experiment in storytelling.
Fugitive Waves — Lost recordings and shards of sound, along with new tales of remarkable people from around the world. Stories from the flip side of history. To kick things off, we’re mining the archive. Here’s a story from our Lost & Found Sound series, an epic collaboration we produced with Jay Allison, NPR and thousands of listeners around the nation — The Rise and Fall and Rise and Fall and Rise of Thomas Alva Edison.
Radiotopia from PRX is made possible with support from the Knight Foundation, and our launch sponsor, MailChimp, who celebrate creativity, chaos, and teamwork. It’s so rare to see someone celebrate chaos. Chaos, creativity and teamwork. Sounds like The Kitchen Sisters.