Every child in America learns that the Wright Brothers invented the airplane and made the first flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina in 1903. But few know that Orville and Wilbur set up the first school to train flyers in Montgomery 100 years ago this month. In 1910, the first capital of the Confederacy was desperate to turn the page on its Civil War past and lured the Wright Brothers to Montgomery in hopes of improving its image. Author Julie Hedgepeth Williams tells that story in the new book, Wings of Opportunity: The Wright Brothers in Montgomery, Alabama 1910. Williams says the Montgomery connection might not have happened if not for the keen eye of a civic booster who recognized a familiar face across a crowed room.
Barely a decade after the Wright Brothers' first flight at Kitty Hawk, airplanes were sophisticated enough for warfare and stunt flying. In the 1920s, barnstorming was all the rage. Pilots would travel the country, and audiences would pay to seen them do all sorts of aeronautical tricks. It was a world mostly dominated by white men. But one African American woman broke through the glass ceiling. Bessie Coleman rose from a life of poverty in Texas to become the first African American to become a licensed pilot. She was also the first American of any race or gender to hold an international pilot's license. Coleman's journey from cotton to the clouds is told in the new musical Barnstormer at Birmingham's Red Mountain Theatre Company. WBHM's Les Lovoy Reports.
Chances are you've got a few mementos of your childhood still around. Maybe a couple of toys or perhaps a baby blanket. But what if you made it your life's mission to find all the pop culture artifacts of your childhood? As WBHM's Bradley George discovered, there's a man in Walker County who has done just that...
And here's another item from Hollis' archive...(LISTEN) This little ditty touts Birmingham as 'the youngest of the world's great cities.' But it's also a jingle for WSGN. Not the WSGN you're listening to if you're hearing us in North Alabama, but the original WSGN, one of the state's oldest radio stations that broadcast on 610 AM.
Paul R. Jones grew up the son of an Alabama steelworker. At age 10, a trip to a New York City museum made a profound impression on him. Jones decided to start collecting art himself and a few years later bought his first prints, which he displayed in frames bought at K-Mart. Over the course of his life, Jones' collection expanded to more than 15-hundred pieces of African American art. He later donated most of the collection to the University of Alabama. Paul R. Jones died last month in Atlanta. He was 81. WBHM's Tanya Ott spoke with him in 2006.
The winter months are coming to a close and temperatures are climbing back into the tolerable range. So, it might be time to end your hibernation and crawl out of the cave. There's plenty of things to engage you, and you might not have to wear a jacket. WBHM intern Jason Moon has some suggestions in this month's Three to See.
The recession has hit the arts world particularly hard. All over the county theaters and museums are cutting staff and programming. Some have gone dark altogether. For some organizations, these issues are unique to the economic slump. Others are experiencing the consequences of long-festering problems. Michael Kaiser is touring the U.S. offering help to both. Kaiser is the CEO of Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington. He's also a renowned turnaround artist, helping to straighten out the Kansas City Ballet and London's Royal Opera. Kaiser recently made a stop in Birmingham and spoke with WBHM's Bradley George about the problems he sees in arts organizations large and small.
February may be the shortest month, but it's of the busiest for the Alabama Symphony Orchestra. WBHM's Michael Krall talks to Music Director Justin Brown....
Alabama is sweetening the pot for filmmakers who want to shoot movies in the state. Starting this month, the state will begin offering financial incentives designed to lure film production. Proponents say this will mean new investment and jobs. But critics counter that those promises probably won't materialize. WBHM's Andrew Yeager reports.
Film director Stanley Kubrick died eleven years ago, next month. Shortly after his death, his last film - the neo-noir psychological thriller Eyes Wide Shut - was released to generally positive reaction from critics.... But raised eyebrows among many theatre goers. It starred Tom Cruise as a young wealthy New York City doctor who infiltrates a massive masked orgy of an underground cult. It's hard not to think of this film when you hear about another event - planned for Valentines Day - here in Birmingham. We were intrigued...so we sent WBHM's Tanya Ott to tease out the story behind Arts de Valentine.
Maybe you're looking for something a little more...traditional on Valentines Day. UAB's Wind Symphony offers up a program of waltzes and tangos, and dance lessons too. UAB Band Director Sue Samuels says the concert is combination "big R" Romantic music from the likes of Johann Strauss and the "small r" lovey-dovey romance of Valentines Day.
The UAB Wind Ensemble's Valentines Day concert is Febuary 14th (of course) at 7 p.m. in the lobby of the Alys Stephens Center.
Tapestry is produced by Bradley George and Michael Krall, with help this month from Les Lovoy, Jason Moon, Tanya Ott, and Andrew Yeager. If you have comments or suggestions for a story, let us know. I'm Greg Bass and we'll see you next month.
If you've got a story idea for Tapestry, drop us an e-mail.