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

Margie Perez grew up in the suburbs of Washington, DC on a diet of classic rock and Cuban rhythms. As the child of immigrants from Havana, she knew Johnny Pacheco and Celia Cruz recordings just as intimately as she did every Beatles album. And what goes in, eventually comes out.

Music Inside Out

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).

Music Inside Out

Outside New Orleans, Walter “Wolfman” Washington may not be a household name. Nevertheless, he’s spent decades touring as a sideman with some of our city’s best-known acts, such as Irma Thomas and Lee Dorsey.

However, as leader of the Roadmasters, and more recently in collaborations with Joe Krown and Russell Batiste Jr., Walter “Wolfman” Washington has emerged one of the most innovative and distinctive guitar players in New Orleans.

Guests on this week's show.
Music Inside Out

In case you’re wondering — yes, this is a Best of Music Inside Out program. But the topic is universal. The songs we hear as children — even the ones we don’t like — help shape our feelings about the music we love as adults.

Nearly all of the guests who’ve appeared on Music Inside Out have talked about the songs they heard growing up. And those early songs and artists are partially responsible for the unique and varied musical landscape of Louisiana. What goes into little ears often helps build music careers. And, for that, we are grateful.

Herlin Riley.
Music Inside Out

“Everything in life is governed by rhythm,” says Herlin Riley, “Everything. (And) when you play the drums, the rhythms are quicker.”

A.J. Croce
Shelby Duncan / Music Inside Out

It’s easy to tease out the artists who’ve inspired A.J. Croce’s singing over the years — Ray Charles, Paul McCartney*, Buddy Holly, even Ray Davies of The Kinks. He loves early rock n roll and R&B. So perhaps it’s ironic that A.J. rarely sounds like his father, singer-songwriter Jim Croce, who made his mark on music in the late 1960s and early 70s.

A paper edit of a Music Inside Out interview.
Music Inside Out

Over the years at MIO, we’ve heard from an enormous variety of artists… Vocalists, pianists, guitarists and brass; composers, songwriters and producers; jazzmen, opera singers and artists that defy category. But no matter the background, style or vocation, all of our artists have a lot of stories to tell… so many, in fact, that we can’t always fit them in a single hour!

This week on Music Inside Out, we’re bringing you those all those clips that were just too good to leave on the cutting room floor!

Forever young.
Music Inside Out

In case you’re wondering — yes, this is a Best of Music Inside Out program. But the topic is universal. The songs we hear as children — even the ones we don’t like — help shape our feelings about the music we love as adults.

Erica Falls.
Music Inside Out

She may have started 20 feet from stardom, but she’s gained a lot of ground in the meantime. Growing up in New Orleans’ 9th Ward, Erica Falls absorbed the sounds of everyone from Billy Eckstine and Ella Fitzgerald to the Sugar Hill Gang and the Ohio Players, to Roberta Flack and Steel Pulse.

Irma Thomas.
Rick Diamond / Music Inside Out

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.

For more than 50 years, Thomas has written, recorded and lent her voice to some of the most precious songs that Louisiana has ever produced. Now music lovers all over the world know the contralto that she calls, “Irma’s sound.” This week, Music Inside Out with Gwen Thompkins makes way for the Queen of New Orleans Soul.

Keep it down, y’all. Miss Irma is speaking.

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