Special Guests
Saturday, November 29, 1997

Mavis Staples first came to fame as one of the Staple Singers. Led by her dad, Roebuck "Pops" Staples, on guitar, Mavis and her siblings became stars in the gospel music circuit. They then made a transition to r&b and pop, with big pop hits like "Respect Yourself" and "I'll Take You There." Her father makes a cameo on "You Will Be Moved," a track from Staples' latest album, The Voice (Paisley Park). The Voice was co-written and produced by the artist formerly known as Prince. To make the CD, Staples worked with accomplished musicians such as members of the New Power Generation, the Steeles, the Peterson family, Nat Adderly Jr., Rosie Gaines, percussionist Sheila E., and saxophonist Candy Dulfer. The collection is a combination of R&B, gospel, funk, and hip-hop.

Studs Terkel calls himself a "disc jockey," a reference to his role as host of The Studs Terkel Program, heard in Chicago on WFMT. He started out on the station in 1952 with a Sunday-morning show; the program is now heard at 10:30 p.m. weekdays. Before starting with WFMT, Terkel had starred in Studs' Place, one of the programs that created the Chicago school of television. It was during the McCarthy era, and the popular program was dropped by NBC because Terkel wouldn't reverse his "pro-Communist" positions in favor of price and rent controls and against the poll tax and Jim Crow laws. By the mid-'60s, Terkel's interviews on WFMT began to be noticed outside of Chicago. In 1965, his first oral history was published, Division Street: America, about class differences in Chicago. Terkel calls his writing "bottom-up history ... [interviews with] ordinary people who have something real to say about themselves." To compile each of his books, Terkel meets with hundreds of these "ordinary people" and then sifts through the hours upon hours of resulting tape until the interviews are distilled down to bare truth. He won the Pulitzer Prize for his 1985 book The Good War, the story of World War II told through soldiers and civilians on both sides. Last May, when Terkel turned 85, he was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He's now promised to continue broadcasting until New Year's Day 1998; he'll spend the next two years working on the Studs Terkel-WFMT Archive, which will become a Chicago Historical Society collection of 7,000 hours of interviews spanning 45 years. Terkel's latest book is My American Century (New Press), the best of his tapes/social chronicles. Last week, the National Book Foundation gave Terkel a medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. The award is given to an individual who has enriched the nation's literary heritage through a lifetime of work.

John Williams, Martin Hayes, and Dennis Cahill are three highly acclaimed Irish traditional musicians, all of whom have traveled the globe-on their own and with groups-to perform in concert halls and at music festivals. John Williams' father and grandfather were born in County Clare, Ireland. John was born in the U.S., but returned to Ireland to compete in the prestigious All-Ireland championship: he now has five All-Ireland titles to his credit, the first American-born competitor to earn that honor on the concertina. Williams, who also plays flute, whistles, bodhran, and piano, lives in Chicago, where he teaches at the Irish American Heritage Center. In 1994, he consulted on and was the principal recording artist for the Goodman Theatre's production of Irish playwright Brian Friel's Dancing at Lughnasa. He was a founding member of Solas and can be heard on their 1996 CD, Solas (Shanachie). Williams released his debut solo album, John Williams (Green Linnet), in 1995. Martin Hayes was born in County Clare and began playing the fiddle at the age of seven. During his teens, Hayes was a member of the famed Tulla Ceili Band, known for its concerts in Ireland and abroad and for its weekly performances in Ireland for the country's traditional dancers. He won his first championship at age 14 and has won the All-Ireland title a total of six times. Hayes has played on several compilation recordings of Irish fiddle champions, and in 1993, Green Linnet released his first solo CD, Martin Hayes, followed in a few years by Under the Moon (Green Linnet). His latest album, with Dennis Cahill, is called The Lonesome Touch (Green Linnet). Guitarist and singer Dennis Cahill was born in Chicago to parents from County Kerry. He started playing guitar when he was nine years old and went on to study classical guitar at the highly-respected Chicago Music College. Cahill has been part of several groups including Midnight Court (with Martin Hayes), Wilding, and The Ploughboys. Recent recording projects include The Lonesome Touch with Martin Hayes and CDs by flute player Laurence Nugent and by composer-accordionist Jimmy Keane.

Old Sweet Songs: A Prairie Home Companion 1974-1976

Old Sweet Songs

Lovingly selected from the earliest archives of A Prairie Home Companion, this heirloom collection represents the music from earliest years of the now legendary show: 1974–1976. With songs and tunes from jazz pianist Butch Thompson, mandolin maestro Peter Ostroushko, Dakota Dave Hull and the first house band, The Powdermilk Biscuit Band (Adam Granger, Bob Douglas and Mary DuShane).

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