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.

Ways To Connect

Denny Culbert / John Sellards Design via MusicInsideOut.org

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.

Bob Travis / Flickr

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

Zack Smith

They are rooted in the quartet singing tradition and a capella harmonies from the turn of the last century. For nearly the half a century, the Zion Harmonizers have 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 God. It’s wonderful.

Illinois State University

When John Boutté invited OperaCréole to join him on stage at last year's New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, Boutté knew he'd hit on the right mix for yet another history-making performance. OperaCréole, which appears on Boutté's latest CD, All About Everything, is a new and formidable force in the area's musical pantheon.

Givonna Joseph is the founder of the group and knows the power and the glory of good music. This week, Joseph joins the mix at Music Inside Out for yet another history-making show.

Music Playlist

Harmony, thy name is Pfister!

This week, the Pfister Sisters sing out and occasionally act out during a rollicking hour spent on jazz vocal harmonies.

The Pfisters pay homage to the Boswell Sisters — one of the finest singing groups to ever come from New Orleans. In their day, the Boswells sold more than 75 million records worldwide.

Matt Robinson / Elephant Quilt Productions

What do you get when you combine modern jazz, the music of Woody Guthrie, Delta blues, and Antonín Dvořák's "American" String Quartet?

You get Luke Winslow-King.

Born and raised in Michigan, a crime landed him in New Orleans. But, ever the optimist, Winslow-King decided to stay. And yet, the road has been more of a home in recent years. Winslow-King is spending the final months of 2013 on a European tour.

“I play for people who still feel like there is something positive and exciting left out in the world to experience.”

Wendy McCardle / wendymccardle.com

This is not John Philip Sousa's band music.

Don't get us wrong, Sousa is in the pantheon of them-who-haul-brass-through-the-streets, but we suspect the maestro might be surprised by the music today. Which, if you think about it, is good.

Otherwise, there would only be the old-timey brass band idiom and the genre would have lost touch with the people. Which is precisely where this music has always lived. With military bands and civic orchestras and parades and funerals and weddings, brass band music has always been popular music.

Zack Smith

      

They are rooted in the quartet singing tradition and a capella harmonies from the turn of the last century. For nearly the half a century, the Zion Harmonizers have 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 God. It’s wonderful.

 

Rick Diamond / Flickr

More than six billion people live on the planet, and yet relatively few human voices are recognizable to the naked ear.

Irma Thomas has one of those voices.

Songs For The Soul

Mar 6, 2014
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 are not. But they're guaranteed to help you get ready for Easter, or Passover, or whatever day you have 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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