The Birmingham Sound refers to Jefferson County's tradition of a cappella gospel quartet singing. It developed after World War I among local coal miners and steel workers. Groups like the Sterling Jubilees and the Four Eagles influenced not only other gospel singers but many pop singers as well. They also influenced the Birmingham Sunlights. The three brothers - James, Barry, and Steve Taylor - and two friends - Wayne Williams and Bill Graves - perform four part harmonies that have taken them around the world as good will ambassadors for the U.S. State Department. Last month, the National Endowment for the Arts honored the Birmingham Sunlights as one of ten National Heritage Fellows. After more than 30 together, James Taylor reflects on how they got started.
Special thanks to Van Gunter and Mark Harrelson at Boutwell Studios.
One of the most popular musicals of the past 15 years is Rent. Loosely based on Puccini's opera, La Boheme, it tells the story of a group of struggling young artists in New York in the early 90's. Rent's creator, Jonathan Larson, died the morning before the show's off-Broadway premiere. But Larson's creation went on win thousands of hardcore fans and a few Tonys. It also made stars out of cast members Jesse L. Martin, Idina Menzel, and Taye Diggs. Rent comes to Birmingham this month in a production by Red Mountain Theatre. WBHM's Bradley George spoke with director Ron Kellum...
Red Mountain Theatre Company's production of Rent is at the RMTC Cabaret Theatre in Downtown Birmingham now through October 18th.
In the years following World War II and on into the '70's, border radio stations set up in Mexico and blasted high-powered signals into the U.S. Today's musical tastemakers transcend borders, too, but they broadcast over the internet, instead of over the air. WBHM's Kelly Walker talked to one Birmingham-based music blogger.
We're at the beginning of October, but Halloween will be here before you know it. It's the perfect time to stroll through a cemetery, with spooky creatures and spirits lurking among the graves. At Birmingham's Oak Hill Cemetery, the dead will come to life, so to speak, this Halloween. But as WBHM's Andrew Yeager reports, it's more about history than haunting.
E-mail for information and reservations about the Halloween day tours of Oak Hill Cemetery.
Their music has been described as "ambient, Zen, Americana". But whatever you call it, the sound of Great Lake Swimmers resonates with people. Robert Plant is a fan. So is NBC news anchor Brian Williams. The Great Lake Swimmers fourth album Lost Channels hit the charts in both Canada and the United States earlier this year. Next week, they'll be playing at Workplay. WBHM's Michael Krall spoke with frontman Tony Dekker about the origin of their unique sound...
Great Lake Swimmers give a concert at Workplay, Wednesday night.
Many sports fans will camp out this weekend watching their favorite college football team play on television. Some will show their devotion by going to the game in person. But every single game? For one UAB student that's reality. And as WBHM's Ian Lamb explains, his fanaticism doesn't end there.
Chris Thile is best known as a mandolin superstar who played with the band Nickel Creek. His latest band, Punch Brothers, has garnered critical acclaim and performed to sold-out audiences. But his musical evolution is now taking him a bit more toward the classical music side, and later this month, Chris Thile performs his mandolin concerto with the Alabama Symphony Orchestra. He spoke with WBHM's Michael Krall.
Chris Thile performs his Mandolin Concerto with the Alabama Symphony Orchestra, October 29th, at the Alys Stephens Center. Have you been waiting for a Nickel Creek reunion? Find out whether Thile thinks it'll happen - in an extended interview.
Tapestry is produced by Bradley George and Michael Krall, with help from Ian Lamb and Andrew Yeager. Love what you hear on the show? Hate it? Indifferent? Don't be shy, let us know! I'm Greg Bass. We'll see you next month.
If you've got a story idea for Tapestry, drop us an e-mail.