Each year, the National Endowment for the Arts recognizes citizens for their contributions to our nation’s traditional arts. On this Thanksgiving weekend, we’ll join the 2010 honorees, recorded live in concert from Washington, D.C., including bluegrass bandleader Del McCoury, Ghanaian drum master Yacub Addy and fiddler Jim “Texas Shorty” Chancellor. Plus music and words from an array of past and present National Heritage Fellows, from Doc Watson to John Lee Hooker.
Tune in for a tribute to the man who melded gospel, soul and pop in music and life: Sam Cooke. We’ll follow the singer from Clarksdale to Chicago and from the church to the Copa as he revolutionized gospel music with the Soul Stirrers and then secular music with self-penned hits “You Send Me,” “Change is Gonna Come,” and more. Plus an hour of the musical roots and branches of Sam Cooke.
This week we visit with two masters of Southern soul. Multi-instrumentalist Booker T. Jones, along with his group the MGs, helped to create the legendary Stax sound. We talk with Booker T. about growing up in Memphis and his current work with the up and coming Southern rock band, the Drive-By Truckers. Soul singer Jimmy Hughes got his start at another landmark of Southern music, Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Hughes shares stories about his classic hits “Steal Away” and “Why Not Tonight,” as well as his move from gospel to soul and back again.
Follow American Routes this week to the City of Brotherly Love, as we hang out on the musical street corners with some of Philadelphia’s finest, including bobby-soxer idol Bobby Rydell, hip-hop drummer and city champion Questlove of the Roots, and the city’s mayor, Michael Nutter, who can also claim fame as a disco DJ. We’ll visit famous operatic cafes and sit in with a neighborhood jazz organ trio. Plus catch a choir rehearsal at one of the city’s historic churches and a conversation with a mother-daughter klezmer duo. And musical postcards from artists who call Philly their hometown.