Life & Arts

Entertainment, live performance, food, cuisine, dining, theater, film, television, art, broadcasting, SXSW, and other arts and culture news in and around Austin and the Central Texas counties of Travis, Hays, Caldwell, Bastrop and Williamson

Meghan Ross

“Like any questionable quarantine project, it was born out of boredom, loneliness and a little bit of a comedian’s need for external validation,” Meghan Ross says of her Instagram Live show No One Asked For This. “With the theaters being shut down and shows kind of coming to a close, I was sort of looking for another creative outlet.”

Maria Esteva wrote about making new traditions, and the differences that keep people together, for our Common Ground project.
Michael Minasi / KUT

Maria Esteva left her native Argentina and settled in Austin with her son. She met her future husband — but there were challenges, especially when it came to the holidays.

Earlier this year, we asked for your personal stories of overcoming differences for our Common Ground project in partnership with the Austin Public Library and the Library Foundation.

Maria wrote about building new traditions with her partner and his family.

'Conversations In Black' With Ed Gordon

Sep 22, 2020

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Ed Gordon, Emmy-award winning broadcast journalist and author of Conversations In Black: On Power, Politics and Leadership.

For over three decades, the Detroit-born journalist has been a pivotal and leading voice in media and communications. From working at prominent corporations such as BET, NBC, MSNBC, CBS and NPR to interviewing the likes of Tupac Shakur and President Bill Clinton, he’s served as a positive voice for African Americans.

Errich Petersen

“We haven’t seen each other in six, seven, eight months,” says Bonnie Collum, the producing artistic director of the Vortex Theatre.

The Vortex crew has produced some online streaming content during the pandemic, but they haven’t put on a show for a live audience since before the lockdown started. That’s just about to change, though – Collum and company are currently working on The Vortex Odyssey, a fundraiser and live performance piece that’ll include an online component and, in a first for the Vortex, a drive-thru theater experience. 

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Cathy Hughes, founder and chairperson of Urban One, Inc., the largest African-American-owned and operated media company in America.

Hughes began her broadcasting career in her hometown of Omaha, Nebraska, at KOWH (AM), a station owned by a group of African-American professionals.

Introducing the latest podcast from KUT and KUTX Studios: Pause/Play, a podcast about live music, a global pandemic and what comes next.

Courtesy of Susan Burneson

Age, class and politics can be big barriers to people seeing eye to eye. But Susan Burneson moved past those obstacles to form a friendship that began with genealogy.

Susan told her story for our Common Ground project, where we asked people to write about their experiences overcoming differences with others.

“This program is at the intersection of the very pragmatic and the very idealistic,” says Bob Bursey, the executive director of Texas Performing Arts. TPA has just partnered with Fusebox Festival to create a new production residency program that aims to give financial and practical assistance to local preforming artists. 

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Cathy Hughes, founder and chairperson of Urban One, Inc., the largest African American-owned and operated media company in America. 

Hughes began her broadcasting career in her hometown of Omaha, Nebraska, at KOWH (AM), a station owned by a group of African-American professionals.

From Red Oak Hope, this month's Get Involved spotlight organization:

About Us

Red Oak Hope is an organization dedicated to bringing freedom, hope, and restoration to survivors of sexual exploitation. We work to stop trafficking and exploitation on a large scale while simultaneously providing holistic care to individuals and communities already affected. 

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Leslie ‘Les’ Payne, former associate managing editor at Newsday, co-founder and past president of the National Association of Black Journalists and a Pulitzer Prize winner. Payne died on March 29, 2018. He was 76.

In 1975, he helped establish the National Association of Black Journalists and served as the fourth president of the organization.

Maestro Peter Bay of the Austin Symphony has been ready to pick up his conducting baton again for a while. It’s been months since the orchestra has performed, and not conducting is a strange and unfamiliar thing for Bay.

“I don’t ever recall a time where I had five months without conducting,” he says. “Not since the late '70s, when I was in high school, so we were off for the summer months. But that would [only] be three months.”

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Dr. Rebecca S. Etz, an associate professor of family medicine and population health at Virginia Commonwealth University and co-director of the Larry A. Green Center; and Christine Bechtel, a patient advocate and co-founder of X4 Health

Laraine Kentridge Lasdon in her backyard.
Michael Minasi / KUT

Time can be the thing that pulls people apart. Especially now, it seems like it's easy to lose track of how long it has been since you called that friend of yours to check in. 

Laraine Kentridge Lasdon found that the pandemic helped her cross that divide. 

Thinkery & Verse

Like most theater artists in 2020, the folks at Thinkery & Verse have had to rethink how they create and share content with their audience. “The best artist you can be right now is the artist that doesn’t demand that people be with you in the same room,” co-artistic director John Meyer says. “And that you fly your spit at them while you say some lines.”

Pease Park Conservancy

“You know, it’s hard to explain,” says Pease Park Conservancy CEO Heath Riddles-Sanchez. “I mean, it doesn’t necessarily have a label. When I first learned about it, I thought ‘Well, it’s a public art installation.’ But it’s more than that.”

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Dyana Williams, a member of the board of directors for the National Museum of African American Music and co-originator and co-founder of Black Music Month.

This past June we celebrated the 41st anniversary of African American Music Appreciation Month. 

A woman with a black top stands in front of some trees in the background.
Michael Minasi / KUT

Chocolate can bring people together — as Ena Ganguly found when she stopped at a store in her hometown.

Earlier this year, we put out a call for your stories about overcoming differences — true stories about finding common ground.

Kate Taylor

Writer and actor Taji Senior has spent some of her time in lockdown creating a new version of her solo show amendment: the making of an american myth, or the slow sipping of a peacock tea. 

“Originally, I wrote this three years ago,” Senior says of the piece. “And it’s the very first solo thing I’d ever written. And each time I come back to this piece … it becomes something drastically different. It went from like three monologues to an hour-long show.”

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Earl G. Graves, Sr.,  founder of Black Enterprise magazine. Graves died on April 6. He was 85.

Founded in 1970, Black Enterprise covered African-American entrepreneurship and provided its readers with business strategies.

A pregnant woman in a navy blue dress stands in front of a picket fence, with one hand on her belly.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

There's something about working hard alongside someone else that brings us closer together. That's what Danielle Patterson discovered when she spent a day sweating in the sun with an unexpected partner. 

Earlier this year, we put out a call for your stories about overcoming differences — true stories about finding common ground.

“I was experimenting with a new painting style and I liked it and it was fast and a little bit more urgent and I thought I would just go with that,” says artist Valerie Fowler about her new body of work, Habitats and Pathways. The collection is based on the natural world Fowler sees on her regular hikes and bike rides around the city.

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Dan C. Goldberg, a health care reporter with Politico and author of The Golden 13: How Black Men Won The Right To Wear Navy Gold

Through oral histories and original interviews with surviving family members, Goldberg brings to life 13 forgotten heroes. He reveals the opposition these men faced: the racist pseudo-science, the regular condescension, the repeated epithets, the verbal abuse and even violence.

Zenobia Orimoloye outside her home.
Michael Minasi / KUT

Doing a small kindness for someone in need might seem like a simple thing, but it can leave an impression that lasts decades.

That's what happened for Zenobia Orimoloye in the early 1990s, shortly after she moved to Austin. 

Earlier this year, we put out a call for your stories about overcoming differences — true stories about finding common ground.

From Austin Creative Alliance, this month's Get Involved spotlight organization:

As part of Austin Creative Alliance's response to the Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic, we have established The Artists Emergency Relief Fund to help artists in Austin maintain their personal and financial stability in these uncertain times.

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Dr. Steve Perry, noted educator, founder and head of Capital Preparatory Schools. Perry is the voice of a generation, a people's champion who has been fighting for disadvantaged children and families for 30 years.

A woman in a red top and glasses smiles in front of a flower garden.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Earlier this year, we put out a call for your stories about overcoming differences — true stories about finding common ground.

Working with the Austin Public Library and The Library Foundation, we collected the submissions and helped writers shape their stories into pieces to read for the radio.

Christopher Zebo

When the coronavirus pandemic made large gatherings a dangerous thing, artists and performers of all kinds had to find new ways to connect with audiences. For Justin Sherburn, the leader of the band Montopolis, the natural pivot was to move from performing in traditional venues to working exclusively in drive-in theaters. It made sense for Montopolis because their shows always feature the band playing along to a film or multimedia presentation. 

“It wasn’t easy,” says aGLIFF president Casandra Alston about the decision to move the venerable film festival online. “[Because] the whole point of having a queer film festival is the community and coming together and being able to share with each other, and fellowship.” 

Daniel Kaluuya portrays Chris Washington in Jordan Peele's 2017 film "Get Out." Baylor University English professor and author Greg Garrett calls it one of the most important films ever made about race in America.
via YouTube

Film has always served as a platform for delving into crucial but difficult topics like racism. In his new book, a Baylor University English professor explores Hollywood’s good, bad and ugly moments when it comes to race.

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