Gwen Thompkins

Host of Music Inside Out

Gwen Thompkins is a New Orleans native, NPR veteran and host of WWNO's Music Inside Out, where she brings to bear the knowledge and experience she amassed as senior editor of Weekend Edition, an East Africa correspondent, the holder of Nieman and Watson Fellowships, and as a longtime student of music from around the world.

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Music Inside Out
2:00 pm
Thu April 16, 2015

Scott Aiges Pulls Back The Curtain On The Music Business

Credit Guillaume Laurent / Flickr

Consider the musicians.

After the crowd goes home, after they pack their gear and instruments, when their van rolls through the night and the smell of smoke still lingers on their clothes, the bottom line remains. The business of music never sleeps.

Artist royalties, mechanical royalties, revenue streams and recording contracts occupy the minds and sleepless nights of managers and artists the country over as they head to their next gig.

You could fill a college course with everything an artist needs to know. Trust us, they have.

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Music Inside Out
2:00 pm
Thu April 9, 2015

Terence Blanchard's Gift For Making Music

Terrence Blanchard.
Credit Bob Travis / Flickr

When the microphone switches on, some people freeze. They can’t think of a thing to say. But Terence Blanchard relaxes.

Blanchard does some of his best thinking in front of a microphone and he’s impatient to get his ideas recorded. That might explain why he is so prolific and why he is so good.

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Music Inside Out
1:44 pm
Thu March 26, 2015

The Strange World Of Alex McMurray

Credit Derek Bridges / Flickr

  As noggins in New Orleans go, there is no noggin like that of singer-songwriter Alex McMurray. He’s got more original characters in his head than a Hollywood film library. Why else would McMurray write a song about the man who shot the man who shot Liberty Valance? (Spoiler Alert: John Wayne is in the crosshairs).

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Music Inside Out
7:15 pm
Thu March 19, 2015

Meschiya Lake: An Honest-to-Goodness, Modern-Day Chanteuse

Meschiya Lake & The Little Big Horns.
Credit Babs Evangelista / Music Inside Out

Meschiya Lake & The Little Big Horns have been playing together as a band since 2009. But their repertoire suggests a much longer, deeper history, dating back to the early part of the last century, when people were buying phonographs and drinking absinthe in its original form.

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Music Inside Out
6:40 pm
Thu March 5, 2015

The Zion Harmonizers Are The Elder Statesmen Of New Orleans Gospel

The Zion Harmonizers
Credit Zack Smith

They are rooted in the quartet singing tradition and a capella harmonies from the turn of the last century. For more than 40 years, The Zion Harmonizers enjoyed an unparalleled platform at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, anchoring and curating the Gospel Tent.

In the church of New Orleans jazz, they’ve had the keys to the church of church.

Thank goodness. It’s wonderful.

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Code Switch
10:37 am
Mon February 23, 2015

Malcolm X's Public Speaking Power

Malcolm X addresses a rally in Harlem in New York City on June 29, 1963.
AP

Originally published on Sun February 22, 2015 9:37 am

From what people remember, he fell like a tree. Malcolm X — all 6 feet, 4 inches of him — had taken a shotgun blast to the chest and a grouping of smaller-caliber bullets to the torso while onstage at the Audubon Ballroom in Washington Heights on Feb. 21, 1965. After a ghastly moment of stasis, he careened backward. His head hit the floor with a crack.

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Music Inside Out
7:56 pm
Thu February 19, 2015

We Can’t Save Your Soul But We Can Help You Sponge It Clean — Music Inside Out

Credit Treewoman8 / Flickr

The excesses of the carnival season are over. So this week, we’re playing sacred music with a foothold in Louisiana. Some songs are religious. Some aren’t. But they’re guaranteed to help get you ready for Easter, or Passover, or whatever day you’ve got circled on the calendar.

Mahalia Jackson, John Boutté, Branford Marsalis, Irma Thomas, Allen Toussaint, and Davell Crawford are in the mix. And so is the brass band that wants to know, “Whatcha gonna do for the rest of your life? Whatcha gonna do to make it right?”

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Music Inside Out with Gwen Thompkins
1:00 pm
Thu January 29, 2015

David Egan: Unabashedly Experienced

Credit Denny Culbert via John Sellards Design

Songwriters talk about a song being “honest.” And according to David Egan, that’s all about telling the truth about our battles and our triumphs — our loves and losses.

“We write music for grownup people,” he says. “Grownup music for grown-ass people.”

They’re the people you might see at the gas station, or in the grocery store. Or in the mirror.

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Music Inside Out
6:47 pm
Thu January 22, 2015

Fats Domino: The Founding Father Of Rock 'N' Roll

Fats Domino plays on the campus of Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, PA in February, 1962.
Credit Music Inside Out

At first, there wasn’t a name for the kind of music that Fats Domino played.

He called it rhythm and blues. But Domino’s songs stretched beyond that category.

In the late 1940s, Domino was working at a mattress factory in New Orleans and playing piano at night. He’d just gotten married… and both his waistline and fan base were expanding. That’s when the bandleader Billy Diamond first called him “Fats” — and predicted he’d have an outsized career.

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Music Inside Out with Gwen Thompkins
1:18 pm
Thu January 15, 2015

Music Inside Out: Reggie Scanlan, Bass Lion

Reggie Scanlan.
Credit Fantail Media / Flickr

There’s a reason why lions prefer the company of other lions. Just ask Reggie Scanlan. As a bass player, Scanlan worked with James Booker and Professor Longhair before starting a 33-year run with the Radiators. He’s now in a band of all-stars called the New Orleans Suspects.

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