Sinatra and Crosby, Singers of Van Heusen Songs, on Picking and Singing Great Songs

Composer Jimmy Van Heusen, right, with frequent collaborator Frank Sinatra, in the 1950s.

Composer Jimmy Van Heusen, right, with frequent collaborator Frank Sinatra, in the 1950s.

NPT and public television fans found much to love in the special membership drive broadcast of Jimmy Van Heusen: Swingin’ with Frank & Bing. The show celebrates the four-time Oscar®-winning composer who created dozens of classics for the American Songbook. His career spanned five decades and his close association with two of the greatest entertainment icons of the last hundred years — Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby — resulted in numerous hit songs for both. Sinatra recorded over 80 songs by Van Heusen — more than any other composer — including “Come Fly With Me,” “Here’s That Rainy Day,” “The Second Time Around” and “The Tender Trap.”  The 1950s were particularly fruitful for the two, as Van Heusen teamed with lyricist Sammy Cahn to produce such all-time hits as “Love & Marriage,” “All The Way” and “High Hopes.”

Van Heusen’s collaborations with Crosby included the creation of songs for six of the seven Crosby-Bob Hope “Road Pictures,” as well as for the all-time Hollywood classics Going My Way and The Bells of St. Mary’s.

Van Heusen was undoubtedly an outstanding composer. But great composers of great songs also need great singers, and Sinatra and Crosby were the best. But what made them the best? Tucked inside songwriter and radio columnist Nick Kenny’s 1946 advice book, How to Write, Sing and Sell Popular Songs (Hermitage Press), they offer some insight into their craft. A good portion of what they discuss is about selecting the right songs.

Taking a page from Brain Pickings, which does such an excellent job of excavating advice and wisdom from sometimes forgotten books, we thought singers of today might enjoy what Crosby and Sinatra had to say, some 68 years ago. Much of it is timeless, and emphasizes the integral relationship between singer and song.

From PART II of the book, “How to Sing.”

sell_songsBING CROSBY SAYS

MY ADVICE to the newcomer who wants to sing for radio, records and television is : create a singing style that is different from any other that the pop singers may be using at the time. Too many vocalists are satisfied to be a carbon copy of the current singing favorite. Auditioning directors spot this before the wouldbe artist has gone through eight bars of a song.

Another natural mistake made by most new singers is their rush to sing new songs. Ask any control man. If the pop song of the moment is “I’m Looking Forward To Looking Backward On Tonight,” every second singer on the audition lists sings it—thereby hurting their chances for a real good analysis of their singability. Always pick a song with which you are familiar and one that shows off your voice—not some publishers latest creation. And sing clean songs.

Don’t overlook the importance of phrasing. Learn to throw away a musical line that you would ordinarily punch and vice-versa. Don’t let your singing audience be a few notes ahead of you regarding shading and timing. They like to be surprised. A song is like a bucking bronco. You’ve got to break it in—sing it a hundred times in different ways. Then, after you have memorized the story line of it—tell it in song as if you were enjoying it for the first time. Well there you arc kids . . . spread it among you! . . .

FRANK SINATRA’S ADVICE FOR YOUNG SINGERS

There is no question in my mind that the choice of songs certainly has a great deal to do with the success of a singer. As a matter of fact, very often just one song can give a singer a tremendous boost toward a successful career. “Night and Day,” I think served this purpose for me, and for that reason, it will always be one of my favorites. Back in the early days, it never failed to come through and inevitably got me the job whenever I auditioned with it.

The best advice I can give anyone intent upon a singing career is that they choose their songs carefully. Be sure it is the type of song that particularly suits your style and voice.

I have, personally, always considered the lyric of any song, especially the popular ballad, of number one importance, and I always read the lyric to a new song before I even attempt to hear the music. If it is a ballad, then the words must be believable. They must tell a story. The music is the backdrop or dressing that makes the story pleasant and listenable.

Of course, I don’t mean that every lyric must at all times make sense. It’s certainly not necessary in the case of comedy or novelty songs. Tunes like “Pistol Packin’ Mama” or “Mairzy Doats” have been smash hits, but that’s because they had humor and were farcical enough to catch the ear of the nation.

If you have chosen a song because you really like it and believe it, then you’ve won half the battle towards making others believe it when you sing it.”

How to Write, Sing and Sell Popular Songs is out of print and not available at the Nashville Public Library last we checked, but it’s quite wonderful if you can track it down at a used store.  In addition to advice from Sinatra and Crosby, there are contributions from Irving Berlin, Richard Rodgers, Cole Porter, Cab Calloway, Perry Como and the Andrews Sisters, among others, and sections such as “Ten Commandments for Auditions” and “Let’s Tackle Some Problems.”

And then there’s this from Songwriters Hall of Famer Irving Ceasar, composer of Swanee,” “Sometimes I’m Happy,” “Crazy Rhythm,” and “Tea for Two:

“Most important: Keep writing-writing-writing. One swallow doesn’t make a summer, one song doesn’t make a songwriter. Great writers like Irving Berlin write a hundred or more songs a year, out of which perhaps two or three may become successful. Don’t get the idea that you are better than best and expect sure-fire success from each little bit of writing effort you expend.  KEEP ON WRITING.”

Jimmy Van Heusen: Swingin’ with Frank and Bing is no longer airing this membership drive, and unfortunately, not available as a thank you gift, but we have several DVDs and CDs of his collaborations to choose from when you donate to NPT. A preview is below:

NPT Part of New Nationwide Veterans Coming Home Project

vch_logo

Nashville Public Television (NPT) will contribute this fall to a new nationwide project titled Veterans Coming Home. Funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and led by Wisconsin Public Television, Veterans Coming Home harnesses public media’s strengths and reach to address the needs of veterans in local communities. Building on compelling national content, NPT and other local public television and radio stations will conduct their own local efforts that will communicate veterans’ stories through video journalism and online contentNPT will be collaborating with local organizations and community partners to better coordinate and publicize local services, facilitate dialogue, and acknowledge the service and sacrifice made by veterans and their families.

“In the next 18 months, as the US begins to withdraw from Afghanistan, Middle Tennessee’s population of veterans is expected to explode,” said NPT president and CEO Beth Curley. “This will create a pressing need to raise awareness about the issues that veterans face reentering civilian life. We hope to build a bridge between veterans and the civilians they served.”

Middle Tennessee is home to one of the nation’s largest army bases, Ft. Campbell, a massive military installation that housing the fifth largest active duty population in the army and the seventh largest in the Department of Defense.  The 101st Airborne Division, one of the most deployed divisions in the U.S. Army and currently serving in Afghanistan today, is based at Ft. Campbell. As a result, Tennessee today is home to over 525,000 veterans, the largest percentage of which are veterans of the Vietnam War and the Gulf War.

VIDEO SERIES

In partnership with a coalition of veterans service organizations, NPT will produce a series of broadcast spots, and a more extensive online series, all available at Veterans.wnpt.org and our YouTube channel at YouTube.com/TnVeteransComingHome, that will drive veterans to existing community resources while educating the general population about issues facing veterans. The goal of the spots will be to normalize the idea of seeking help, while letting veterans know where to find resources in the community.  They will also raise awareness in the community about difficulties many veterans experience when transitioning to civilian life, while acknowledging their service to the country.  Community awareness engendered as an outcome of these spots will prepare citizens of Middle Tennessee to better welcome veterans home from Iraq and Afghanistan and connect them with vital resources.

The first one, available now at http://youtu.be/hSjliRkpxaw and pasted above, is “What War Feels Like.” Using a screening at the Belcourt Theatre of Sebastian Junger’s film, Korengal, as its framework, the segment focuses on the role that film plays in helping civilians understand the experiences of veterans, and in turn, how that attempt at understanding helps veterans.

Shorter segments will also be broadcast on-air on NPT.

WEB SITE / SOCIAL MEDIA / TN VETERANS COMING HOME WELCOME WALL

Veterans.wnpt.org, in addition to the videos and connections to local resources, will also include the Tennessee Veterans Coming Home Welcome Wall. We’ll be asking Middle Tennesseans  to use Twitter, Facebook or Instagram to leave messages or photos of welcome, share stories, exchange resources and needs and more.  By using the hashtags  #TNVeteransComingHome or #TNVCH, on any of the three social media platforms, we’ll be able to aggregate them at veterans.wnpt.org/welcomewall.

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Veterans ComingHome is made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

About Nashville Public Television:
Nashville Public Television, Nashville’s PBS station, is available free and over-the-air to nearly 2.4 million people throughout the Middle Tennessee and southern Kentucky viewing area, through its main NPT and secondary NPT2 channels, and to anyone in the world through its stable of NPT Digital services, including wnpt.org, YouTube and the PBS video app. The mission of NPT is to provide, through the power of traditional television and interactive digital communications, high quality educational, cultural and civic experiences that address issues and concerns of the people of the Nashville region, and which thereby help improve the lives of those we serve.

About CPB
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), a private, nonprofit corporation created by Congress in 1967, is the steward of the federal government’s investment in public broadcasting. It helps support the operations of more than 1,400 locally-owned and -operated public television and radio stations  nationwide, and is the largest single source of funding for research, technology, and program development for public radio, television and related online services

Veterans Coming Home is made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

About CPB
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), a private, nonprofit corporation created by Congress in 1967, is the steward of the federal government’s investment in public broadcasting. It helps support the operations of more than 1,400 locally-owned and -operated public television and radio stations  nationwide, and is the largest single source of funding for research, technology, and program development for public radio, television and related online services

Veterans ComingHome is made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

 

Enter our Thomas the Tank Engine Coloring Contest!

Thomas Basket - This Could Be Your Child's!

This Could Be Your Child’s!

All of us at Nashville Public Television are excited about Thomas the Tank Engine’s “Day Out with Thomas” coming to the Central Railway Museum in Nashville, Aug. 30-31 & Sept. 6-7. To celebrate we have cooked up something fun for you and your family to work on over the weekend. Pick your favorite Train, download the coloring sheet, color the picture and get it back to us by Friday, August 28th. You’ll be entered to win basket full of Thomas and Friends gear (pictured above). To enter, post a picture of the colored page on our Facebook page. Or, since Thomas always finds a way to get where he’s going, get the picture to us any way you can. Email it to us at tv8[at]wnpt.org, mail it to us by August 28 (it will need to be here by then) to NPT, Thomas the Tank Engine, 161 Rains Ave, Nashville, TN 37203. Tweet it to us @npt8 or Instagram it to @nashvillepubTV. With all those options, posting to our Facebook page is still the easiest and preferred method!

Let’s get started!

Choose your favorite train. Pick one to download and color the attached sheet.

Good Luck!

(We all know our kids have very limited access to disposable spending money, but if they did, we bet they would be willing to contribute $5, $10 or maybe even $50 to keep educational, fun and quality children’s programming accessible to all children in Middle Tennessee. No donation is necessary to enter the coloring contest for the basket, but if you feel so inclined, please consider making a gift in honor of the kids in your life. Thanks!)

This Book Needs a Helmet: Abby White on the 100 Things to Do in Nashville Before You Die

100 Things to Do in Nashville Before You Die

Whether it’s Middle Tennessee trips onTennessee Crossroads, visits to local gardens on Volunteer Gardener or visual studies of emerging and established businesses on our web series You Ought to Know Nashville, it’s clear that we love our city and all it has to offer. We also love its history, as our Memories of Nashville and 20th Century in Photographs series illustrate, and its beauty, as our trio of Beautiful Tennessee films so lushly document. So when a trade paperback-sized book titled 100 Things to Do in Nashville (Reedy Press) showed up in our mailbox, written by the Nashville Scene staff editor and AAN Award Winner Abby White, our curiosity was piqued. Had we as a station visited many of these places? Had I, a 16-year resident of the city, fully partaken of its charms? It turns out that we did, but there were still quite a few things we learned. And still more things we’ve been meaning to do.

The book is broken down into four sections — food & drink, music & entertainment, sports & recreation, culture & history, and shopping & fashion. White’s recommendations are accompanied by her colorful and personable anecdotes and synopses that will make outsiders feel like that have an inside connection, and locals feel like they better get cracking.  The “Things to do” vary from the iconic and obvious, like “see a show, any show, at the Ryman Auditorium” and “catch a movie at the Belcourt Theatre” to the lesser known and off-the-beaten path, like “drink tea, do good at Thistle Stop Cafe” and “travel the world without leaving the city limits at the Global Education Center.” There are even events for the kids, such as “have breakfast with Santa at the Aquarium Restaurant,” and the kid in you, such as “be a kid again, but with adult beverages, at the Nashville Zoo.”

We caught up with White for a quick chat about the book, some of her recommendations, why it should come with a helmet, and why 80′s pop star Tiffany matters.  Among other things.

Abby White

Abby White

Joe Pagetta, NPT: First off, are you someplace right now doing one of the 100 Things to Do in Nashville Before You Die?

Abby White:  I wish! I would not recommend that anyone else, tourist or native, has to sit at my desk and pretend to be me for the day, but I WILL say that I started my day off doing one of the 100 Things. I did a lovely long hike at Percy Warner, which is one of our many amazing parks. I bet you thought I was going to say I came from a bar.

Joe:  Haha! I thought maybe you were eating pink radio cake at Fido.

Abby:  I’ll be doing that later. It’s technically a vegetable.

Joe:  I started the day with a bike ride on the Stones River Greenway. Also beautiful.

Abby:  That sounds divine! I bet we each do one of these 100 things every day – that’s the beauty of this book. It’s for natives as much as visitors. A reminder to celebrate all of the incredible things we have here, from parks to restaurants.

Joe:  Before we get into the book, there is one glaring omission. I know everyone has an opinion on these things, but how is “volunteering on the phone bank during an NPT membership drive” NOT on this list? Or becoming a member of NPT. Or at the very least, WATCHING NPT? We here all think these are things one should do before they die.

Abby: HAHA. Well. You got me there. That’s family friendly, too! I was struggling with that category. I’ll put that in version 2.0

Joe:  Thanks. 100 Ways to Volunteer in Nashville.

Abby: Ooh, that’s a good idea!

Joe: How did you get involved in writing the book?

Abby: The publishing company, which is based in St. Louis and publishes these city guides throughout the U.S., contacted me on the recommendation of a colleague.

Joe:  With your work at the Nashville Scene and NFocus, you’re in tune with much of what’s going on here, but did you discover some things in the process you didn’t know about?

Abby:  Yes, absolutely. I discovered that, as a Nashville resident, I hadn’t taken full advantage of many of the things that make this city unique. For example, while I’ve been inside the Country Music Hall of Fame a million times, I’ve never done anything more than an abbreviated media tour. And while I’ve been to Opryland, I’ve never taken a ride on the General Jackson. I mean, these things are fun, and they’re unique to Nashville! Sure, other cities have museums, boats, rivers, etc. But anyone who lives or visits here recognizes that there’s a different flavor …  a spice to Nashville. NASHVILLE SPICE (the lost Spice Girl.) It tastes like hot chicken, I think.  Sorry, back on track.

Honestly, while researching it and trying to find what I considered a good representation of local treasures in various categories — food, nightlife, historic, scenic, etc. — it made me want to go do everything again. I mean, the history alone.

Joe:  So much history.

Abby:  After traveling in Italy this summer, I had a little bit of that American envy, how there are so many beautiful historic structures over there, with stories that span centuries. It’s incredible. And overwhelming, a bit. But then I got back home, as you do after a vacation, and I had a new appreciation for what this city has grown into in the relatively short time it’s been in existence. And the evolution we see today. Though I’ll like this evolution a lot more when EVERY SINGLE STREET I need to use to get to work isn’t blocked off for construction, but hey, that’s progress!

Joe: The evolution is amazing. You couldn’t have known when you added Fleet Street, that just six or seven months later, Printer’s Alley’s future, at least as we know it, would be in question.

Abby:  Right? But that will keep happening, as the city continues to grow and change. I just hope that we have the sense to protect the history of the city as we plan for its future. Because it they tear down Fleet Street, I will chain myself to it. I would chain myself to a lot of buildings here, actually.

Joe: There’s a nice mix of the tourist and the insider stuff. I was impressed with the inclusion of the burgers at Twin Kegs and the Pupusas at Las Americas. Good calls.

Abby:  You know, including things that are more off the beaten path, like Twin Kegs or Las Americas Taqueira, that could appeal to a seasoned visitor who wants to explore beyond the usual touristy stuff (and no disrespect to the usual touristy stuff, honestly – I’ve been known to kick up my heels on Lower Broad!). Nashville has such a rich, diverse community that brings so many distinct cultural influences, which our culinary scene is certainly starting to reflect.

And, seriously, you cannot get a better meal under $3 than Las Americas!

Joe:  Do you own three pairs of boots from boot country?

Abby:  OK, here’s a confession. I have no cowboy boots. Zero. The closest thing I have is a pair of stilettos that resemble cowboy boots, and they really hurt my feet, so I rarely wear them.

Joe: I believe that. I don’t either. Although I did for a time have a pair of Luccheses that I found for $20 in Brooklyn. I think I wore them once. I was more attracted to the idea of them I think. And that was when I was moving here and thought I should have them. I also thought the stars stayed at the Drake Motel, too, so shows you how much I knew.

Abby: Um, $20 Luccheses? I would have bought those, too. You know, I wonder how many people would think that, moving here today? That they would get a lot of wear out of some cowboy boots in Nashville? I think the public perception of our city has shifted so much now, that the presumption might not even be made nowadays. And the Drake Motel, haha! That’s another one I should have included.

Joe:  I’m not so certain. The perception has shifted, but at the same time it seems to have become more entrenched.

Abby:  Maybe for people who visit … but I think, for people who come here on business or who are seriously considering moving here, it’s different.

Joe:  I would agree with that.  Should the book have a warning? I have a friend who really hurt himself at Sky High Sports.

Abby:  I really hurt myself at Sky High Sports! But it was worth it. Yes, many of these activities should probably come with waivers. Or helmets. Definitely a designated driver, too.

 Joe:  Some of these things, like catching a show at the Ryman or seeing the Jubilee Singers perform are things people anywhere in the world should do before they die, but some of these other things might be questionable, even in Nashville. Should we really visit 80s pop star Tiffany’s boutique in White House? Please defend yourself.

Abby: Maybe this is a generational thing, but YES. Why not take a day trip to White House? And if you don’t want to do that, she has a second location on Fatherland. But, really, it’s TIFFANY. I challenge you to find a female child of the 80s who didn’t buy a jean jacket because of Tiffany. She’s a pop icon! Plus, the fact that she has a couple of stores in Middle Tennessee? That’s just weird and cool. I live for that intersection of weird and cool stuff in Nashville. Also, she’s really nice. And a small business owner. We love those! The defense rests.

Joe:  OK, you may have sold me. Even though I fall on the Debbie Gibson side of that 80s pop icon debate.

Abby:  Well, I’m kind of with you on that. Debbie wrote her own songs. And her perfume was RAD. But I digress.

Joe: I know we have to wrap. You’re busy, I’m busy, we’re all crazy busy, but I do think this is a nice little travel guide. And sometimes when you get crazy busy, being a tourist in your own home town can provide just the right respite. Flipping through it made me smile. One of my first dates with my wife involved her singing karaoke at Twin Kegs. Any last advice on how locals and visitors should use it?

Abby: Aw, see, I love hearing things like that! Everyone who lives here has a story like that, a connection to a place that’s special in its own right, but then when you add your own experience to it, well, that’s just a particular kind of magic that this city offers. I hope that locals will pick it up and have a similar reaction to yours – maybe revisit an old favorite, check out a new place. Maybe it will help people reignite an old interest or hobby, or at least to see Nashville through a new lens. For visitors, I hope they use it to hit the Nashville essentials that we’re known for — Bluebird, Prince’s, honky tonks, etc. — but that they’ll also explore other areas of the city that they’re not going to find in a typical guidebook.

Joe: Finally, what one thing didn’t make it that you would add (other than the Stones River Greenway).

Abby: That’s a hard question. There were several things that I wanted to include that were personal favorites, but in trying to find the ideal blend of older/newer businesses that spanned all of the different topics, I had to delete a few of the “nightlife” options as I was heavy on those and a little light on the “family friendly” category (as a single girl with no kids, this shouldn’t be surprising!). Also, several great restaurants opened since I wrote this, so I’d want to include all of them! But I guess I would answer that by saying that the one thing I’d include is the thing I haven’t tried yet – I’m just waiting to be blown away.

Joe: Great answer! By the way, I loved “Have a Conversation on the Walking Bridge.” That was a frequent joke of Mayor Dean’s in a lot of his appearances last year.

Abby: I totally stole that joke from the mayor. The real one, not the one on the TV show.

Joe: I would add biking over the Natchez Trace Bridge!

Abby: I’m definitely going to consult you for the next version of the book!

Joe: You don’t need my help. You’ve got this town covered!

You can follow Abby White on Twitter (@fabigailwhite) and Instagram (@fabigail).

Be sure to check out the websites for Tennessee CrossroadsVolunteer Gardener and You Ought to Know Nashville for videos of many of the things White recommends. Here’s one to get you started. Especially you locals.

A Word on Words Tribute to John Seigenthaler on July 27 from 2-6 pm

John Seigenthaler

Earlier this month, we laid to rest a true Nashville giant. John Seigenthaler was many things, among them a journalist and First Amendment advocate, but as we wrote in a statement posted on Friday, July 11, to us he was a friend, a member of the NPT family and the longtime volunteer host — for 42 years — of A Word on Words. We will pay tribute to that legacy, and celebrate what would have been Seigenthaler’s 87th birthday, on Sunday, July 27 from 2-6 p.m. on NPT. We’ll be airing back-to-back classic episodes of the show, interspersed with reflections and stories from local authors and friends. Among the authors and episodes featured will be John Lewis (“Walking with the Wind”); Ann Patchett (“Patron Saint of Liars”); Alice Randall (“The Wind Done Gone”); J.T. Ellison (“All the Pretty Girls”); John M. Seigenthaler (“James K. Polk”); David Halberstam (“Firehouse”); Rodney Crowell (“Chinaberry Sidewalks”); and Fred Thompson (“Teaching the Pig to Dance”).

Among those offering reflections are Stephen Mansfield, Ellison, Jon Meacham, Charles McNair, Crowell, Marty Stuart, Adam Ross and Randall.

That morning’s regularly scheduled episode at 10:30 a.m. features Patchett in a new episode talking about her most recent collection of essays, “This is the Story of a Happy Marriage.” All new episodes, taped in the months before Seigenthaler’s death, will air on subsequent Sunday mornings until September 28, after which older episodes will be rebroadcast, until further notice.

Thanks to everyone who has written or called the station to offer their condolences. We appreciate the kind words for John and his work, and will be compiling all of the notes to forward on to his family.

Thank you.

Marty Stuart

Marty Stuart

Fred Thompso

Fred Thompson

Ann Patchett

Ann Patchett

Rodney Crowell, Ann Carell, Beth Curley and John Seigenthaler

Rodney Crowell, Ann Carell, Beth Curley and John Seigenthaler

In Memoriam: Our Friend John Seigenthaler (1927-2014)

John Seigenthaler

John Seigenthaler (1927-2014) was the host of A Word on Words for 42 years.

As much as John Seigenthaler was a part of our family here, it’s easy to forget that, essentially, he was a volunteer.  For 42 years, he hosted A Word on Words with John Seigenthaler. Not as a paid employee, but as a volunteer, dedicated to serving this community and honoring the integrity of the written word. “Keep reading,” he told us at the end of every episode, whether he was sitting across from a New York Times bestselling author, a politician who’d written a manifesto on public policy, a local historian, or a first time author with a collection of short stories. He took his own advice seriously, reading everything before the cameras rolled. Kevin Crane, vice president of content and technology and executive producer of A Word on Words tells us that “in all my years of working with John on A Word on Words, it never failed to amaze me, especially during the Southern Festival of Books when we’d do more than a dozen interviews in a weekend, how engaged he was with each author. He read every book, much to the surprise of the authors, who were not used to that much attention and respect.”

He was prepared, too, as any staffer lucky to snag a copy of a book he used on the show knows. The back pages were full of notes.

Beth Curley, NPT’s president and CEO recalls that John’s love of literature “inspired and informed my own reading, as it did for all of us at the station, all who watched the show, and all who sat across from him on the set.”

But he did more, she added:

“John was extremely supportive of me when I arrived at NPT 15 years ago, where he was already an established presence and host of A Word on Words for 25 years and counting. He had an invaluable influence on the way we conducted ourselves as journalists at NPT, and was always there to provide us guidance. He was also a gifted Nashville historian; always willing to be a resource for us on our Nashville history documentaries.”

When the Anniversary of the Freedom Rides came in 2011, an event pivotal in John’s career, he was understandably much in demand. But he always had time for us. He hosted our own reunion of Nashville Freedom Riders just days after appearing on Oprah, made time for multiple screenings of the Freedom Riders documentary and even spoke to a roomful of public television employees when our national conference was in Nashville. He was tireless when it came to telling the story of the Freedom Riders, because he knew it was an important story. That was why every time he told it, whether recalling his own harrowing brush with death or how Diane Nash and the other riders signed their own last will and testaments, audiences were moved and inspired.

We were always moved and inspired by John, especially every time he came in the door to tape a new batch of shows. These last few years gave us plenty of opportunities, too, as he showed no sign of slowing down. He taped 48 shows in 2012-2013, and enough this year to last us until September. He was, you could say, the most dedicated volunteer in the history of public television. He was also a friend, and a part of our family. We’ll miss him deeply, and keep reading.

`Aging Matters` Doc Explores Role of Family and Community in Eldercare | Event, Online and On-Air Premieres

Aging Matters: Caregiving

 

NPT’s New Installment of the ‘Aging Matters’ Series Explores the Roles of Family Members and the Community in the Care of Elders

Hosted by Kathy Mattea, ‘NPT Reports: Aging Matters: Caregiving’ premieres July 17 on-air and online; advance screening and discussion to be held July 14 at FiftyForward Knowles Patricia Hart Building.

At least 70% of people over 65 will need long-term care services and support, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services. But fewer than 10% of Americans are saving and planning specifically for long-term care, resulting in almost 44 million adults in the U.S. that provide unpaid care to someone over age 50.  Seven out of 10 are women. Despite being married, having children, and having careers, they are putting in about 20 hours a week of elder-care.

In Caregiving, the latest installment of NPT Reports: Aging Matters series, hosted by Grammy-winning singer and songwriter Kathy Mattea and premiering on-air and online on Thursday, July 17, Nashville Public Television (NPT) discusses the existence and impact of informal caregiving in relation to the increase of life expectancy and aging of the Baby Boomers. This documentary draws on the knowledge of caregivers, family members, adult daycare runners, healthcare and social service professionals, and more to express the problems that families are experiencing when they are unprepared to provide care for an elderly family member.

Produced by LaTonya Turner (Translating the Dream, Looking Over Jordan: African Americans and the War), NPT Reports: Aging Matters: Caregiving will premiere online on Thursday, July 17 at 12:00 p.m. (noon) at wnpt.org via the OVEE online engagement web viewer. It will have its broadcast premiere at 8:00 p.m. that same evening on-air at NPT-Channel 8.  Those wishing to attend the online screening should visit wnpt.org or go to the direct link: https://ovee.itvs.org/screenings/ohl9q.

“Caregiving for an older adult will almost certainly touch all of us at some point, especially as people live longer and Baby Boomers age,” says Turner. “It’s a topic that affects me personally as primary caregiver for my 91-year-old mother and it’s surprising how many people I encounter are dealing with issue. Some call it  a  ‘silver tsunami’ that will create a strain on the friends and family that care for the aging, the communities that serve them, and the long-term and general healthcare system. For the documentary, we talked with a variety of informal caregivers, care professionals, policy makers and community members to get as many perspectives as possible on how best to navigate the issues caregiving presents. We hope it starts a larger conversation in the community.”

The documentary will be previewed on Monday, July 14, 2014 with a lunchtime screening and discussion at FiftyForward Knowles Patricia Hart Building from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.  After the screening, Gretchen Funk, MSW, FiftyForward Care Team Director, will lead a discussion with a Care Team client about her family’s caregiving journey, including the development and implementation of a care plan to address the family’s needs. Other service providers will be on hand to join in the discussion, and caregiving resources and supportive materials will be available.Lunch will be provided. FiftyForward Knowles Patricia Hart Building is located at 174 Rains Avenue Nashville, Tenn., 37203.

Member of the community wishing to attend should RSVP at events@fiftyforward.org.

Download the FiftyForward Event flyer here.

“NPT Reports: Aging Matters: Caregiving” is made possible by the generous support of Cigna-Healthspring, the West End Home Foundation and the Jeanette Travis Foundation.

`Wessyngton Plantation: A Family’s Road to Freedom` Premieres July 11 – Tells Story of the Washingtons

Wessyngton Plantation

by Chloe Cable
NPT Intern

Nashville Public Television’s award winning Tennessee Civil War 150 series aims to explore our state’s pivotal role in the Civil War, and is continuing to do so in its new documentary, “Wessyngton Plantation: A Family’s Road to Freedom,” premiering Friday, July 11 at 7:00 p.m. (Rebroadcast at 11:30 p.m.).

After a visit to The Tennessee State Museum and its exhibit “Slaves and Slaveholders of Wessyngton Plantation,” the series’ producers were motivated to create a documentary based on this exhibit and its inspiration, John F. Baker Jr.’s book, “The Washingtons of Wessyngton Plantation.” When he was younger, John F. Baker Jr. was drawn to a photo of Robertson County slaves in his middle school textbook. After learning that his great-grandparents were in that photo, he began researching them. This research led to more research about more family members, and after about thirty years he had accumulated information about hundreds of his ancestors. He searched family and state archives and birth and death records. He interviewed relatives and historians. Finally, he published all of his hard work in 2008, in a book that detailed the lives of his family and their strength and perseverance during their fight for freedom.

According to NPT producer Ed Jones, “Wessyngton Plantation: A Family’s Road to Freedom,” brings the book and exhibit to life. It tells the stories of many generations of the Washingtons through footage filmed on site at Wessyngton and at the exhibit in The Tennessee State Museum. The documentary also gives the history of Wessyngton Plantation and its founder, Joseph Washington, who purchased sixty acres in Middle Tennessee in 1796 to grow tobacco. The slaves who worked the fields on this plantation were very rarely sold, resulting in many generations of enslaved families leaving their mark on Wessyngton Plantation. “Wessyngton Plantation: A Family’s Road to Freedom” follows these multiple generations as they struggle to gain freedom.

“Wessyngton Plantation: A Family’s Road to Freedom” is made paossible in part by Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area.

Guest Blog: Real/Surreal at the Frist Center Blurs the Binary Line

George Tooker (1920–2011). The Subway, 1950. Egg tempera on composition board, 18 1/8 x 36 1/8 in. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds from the Juliana Force Purchase Award 50.23. Courtesy of the Estate of George Tooker and DC Moore Gallery, N.Y. Photography by Sheldan C. Collins

George Tooker (1920–2011). The Subway, 1950. Egg tempera on composition board, 18 1/8 x 36 1/8 in. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds from the Juliana Force Purchase Award 50.23. Courtesy of the Estate of George Tooker and DC Moore Gallery, N.Y. Photography by Sheldan C. Collins

Ed. Note: University of Iowa student Chloe Cable is interning in NPT’s promotion and marketing department this year, helping us with our monthly schedule, You Tube channels, Storytellers blog and more. An art and creative writing major, she attended the Frist Center for the Visual Arts media preview for the new exhibit, Real/Surreal: Selections from the Whitney Museum of American Art, and came back with this dispatch.

Chloe CableBy Chloe Cable

All art exhibits are based on a theme or commonality; some feature an artist, a movement, a style, or a time period. The idea behind the new exhibit at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, however, comes off as more of a thesis than a general theme. Real/Surreal: Selections from the Whitney Museum of American Art contains over sixty paintings, photographs, and prints from American artists between 1920 and 1950. It features names like Edward Hopper, Man Ray, Andrew Wyeth, and Federico Castellon. The works that comprise this exhibit have been categorized as either Realism or Surrealism. Realism is a style of art that expresses the subject in a way that stays true to its form in observable nature. Surrealism is a style of art that shows the natural world in an unnatural way to explore the emotion, imagination, and deeper realities behind the subject. These two forms of art are often considered to be polar opposites.

Real/Surreal argues that the line between these two types of art is not that clean. Rather than being a binary, they sit on a sliding scale. This idea is expressed by the first two paintings featured in the exhibit: Andrew Hopper’s Cape Cod Sunset and Man Ray’s La Fortune. They have been categorized as Realism and Surrealism, respectively. However, after experiencing a tour provided by the curator, Katie Delmez, I discovered that they don’t seem that different anymore. The very realistic Cape Cod Sunset has accurate perspective and realistic shading – and a lingering impression of loneliness. The painting portrays a large white home on Cape Cod that lacks any evidence of life. There are no people, vehicles, or personal items that one might expect to find in a painting of a house. The lack of life is so unnatural that it gives this realistic painting a surreal edge.

Edward Hopper (1882–1967). Cape Cod Sunset, 1934. Oil on canvas, 29 1/8 x 36 1/4 in. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Josephine N. Hopper Bequest 70.1166. © The Heirs of Josephine N. Hopper, Licensed by Whitney Museum of American Art. Digital Image © Whitney Museum of American Art

Edward Hopper (1882–1967). Cape Cod Sunset, 1934. Oil on canvas, 29 1/8 x 36 1/4 in. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Josephine N. Hopper Bequest 70.1166. © The Heirs of Josephine N. Hopper, Licensed by Whitney Museum of American Art. Digital Image © Whitney Museum of American Art

La Fortune – a painting of a billiard table that sits on barren earth and is surrounded by green, yellow, blue, and red clouds – has some surprisingly realistic elements. The shading is accurate and there is effective use of light source and perspective. At first glance these two paintings are complete opposites, one realistic and one surreal, but deeper inspection reveals that they are more similar than their styles label them to be. Each of the following works of art in the exhibit argues this idea. The pieces labeled as Surrealism use elements of Realism, and vice versa. I encourage visitors to the Frist to enter the upper-level galleries with this in mind in order to experience this exhibit fully. While the artwork is incredible in its own right, understanding the message behind this collection allowed me to leave with a lot more than I expected to when I first entered the exhibit.

As an art major and self-proclaimed realist, I wasn’t expecting this exhibit to be more than an interesting combination of two styles. I was prepared to “ooh” and “aah” at the right moments and then leave with another collection of paintings to add to my mental list of “seen that.” The nature of this exhibit, however, makes it nearly impossible to leave without two things: new knowledge and inspiration. Not only did I learn about two styles of art that I thought I knew almost everything about, but I acquired the impulse to do something with this knowledge.

I have always loved art; my grandmother was an art teacher and I grew up with her paintings in our home and fairly frequent visits to her basement-studio. My grandma and my mom always inspired me to be creative. When I was bored they would hand me paper and pencils and tell me to draw something. I’ve been drawing ever since, priding myself for my talent in the art of “visual mimicry.” I could set almost any object in front of me and draw it with accurate detail. But I was told by many art teachers that this wasn’t enough. “Anyone can draw something realistically,” they would say, “You have to make your work stand out. Maybe have a theme. Or you could add color to just these parts. Or you could alter something to make it more than just a drawing of the object.”

The latter option always bothered me because that would make my drawings surreal. I didn’t want to change my style of drawing. I liked realism and I disagreed that it was too common. Not everyone can draw realistically and it’s not boring. It’s fun really, creating something so realistic that it tricks the eye into thinking it’s a photograph. And all you need is paper and graphite. I considered taking their advice and altering parts of my drawings, but I liked being realistic so much that I didn’t want to risk making my drawings surreal.

Taking from the knowledge that Realism and Surrealism are not two completely separate forms of art, I have realized that making not-so-realistic changes to my realistic drawings isn’t jumping ship. Hopper’s painting is still considered realism. It’s the emotion behind the piece that makes it a little surreal, too. Art is about breaking boundaries and sometimes, like in this case, breaking binaries. It’s about expression and creativity. It is definitely not about playing things safe. I’m comfortable with how I draw now and that might just be reason enough to change things up. Most of the surrealists featured in this exhibit had training in realism and used this training to make their work surreal. I’m not saying I’m going to stop being a realist and completely switch over to Surrealism, but, according to this exhibit, I don’t have to.

 

New Storytellers Blog Highlights the Stories of Nashville Immigrants and Refugees

Next Door Neighbors StorytellersWe are proud to announce the launch of a new blog dedicated to showcasing the stories of Nashville’s immigrants and refugees. NPT’s Next Door Neighbors Storytellers blog, accessible at blogs.wnpt.org/storytellers, is the web portal for a community project that expands on the Emmy award-winning Next Door Neighbors documentary series.

Building on NPT’s close relationships with local immigrants and the organizations that serve them, the goal of the Next Door Neighbors Storyteller project is to help Nashville’s immigrants and refugees find their voice by training and equipping them tell their own stories through digital storytelling skills.  NPT provided hands-on training, equipment and support throughout the initial phase of the project, resulting in video essays that are personal, unique and captivating. The new blog provides a platform for the close to 150 immigrant and refugee stories on NPT’s Next Door Neighbors Storytellers YouTube Channel. 

There are stories by Kurdish, Somali, Egyptian, Japanese, Bhutanese, Mexican and many more communities, that together provide a wide-ranging view of the diversity of music city and craft a larger, more inclusive story about why Nashville is an “it” city right now. Stories on the blog are categorized by topics including food, immigration, culture, faith, entrepreneurship, survival and Nashville.

While Storytellers started more than three years agp, the new blog was initially developed this spring at the HCA Foundation-sponsored Hack for the Community, where local developers and designers volunteered their time to work with Nashville nonprofits. With the input and guidance of NPT’s Joe Pagetta, director of media relations and online strategies; Will Pedigo, Next Door Neighbors producer, and Shawn Anfinson, Next Door Neighbors Storytellers project manager, HCA project manager James Bumpass led a team of six developers and designers who worked on the best way to showcase the videos.

There is an area of the blog where immigrants and refugees can download training materials and videos, and find out about upcoming workshops. They can also inquire about telling their own stories, and a use form to submit stories they’ve already done for inclusion in the project.

“We hope by providing a better showcase for these stories that this rich, vibrant part of Nashville’s culture gets to shine a little more and take its place along many of the other facets of this city garnering national attention,” says Pagetta. “Some of these stories are really excellent, and all are sincere and heartfelt. Some are funny and some are heartbreaking, but all took courage to tell. I hope, too, that it inspires more members of the community to tell their own stories, and together we can build this amazing digital quilt of the unique people that now call Nashville home.”

Kevin Kennedy did additional development work, and NPT intern Chloe Cable brought the bulk of the YouTube collection into the blog. Soraya Salam worked on an early phase of the project.

The Next Door Neighbors Storyteller project is made possible by a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Nissan Foundation.