Viewing: American music history - View all posts

#35 - The Quantum Heart - Harley Gaber 

Welcome to episode 35, “The Quantum Heart,” featuring composer, multi-media artist, and tennis player Harley Gaber (1943-2011). Gaber’s music was deeply informed by his study of Buddhism and Taoism, as well as his lifelong interest in quantum physics. He is…

#33 - The Godmother of Music Therapy - Eva Augusta Vescelius 

Welcome to episode 33, "The Godmother of Music Therapy," featuring opera singer, New Thought philosopher, and pioneering music therapist, Eva Augusta Vescelius (1853-1917). After co-founding the family-run Vescelius Opera Company and touring the world for over a decade, Vescelius’ interest…

#31 - The Oracle of the East Village - Harry Smith 

Welcome to Episode 31, “The Oracle of the East Village,” featuring filmmaker, painter, musical ethnographer, and occult magician, Harry Smith (1923-1991). Smith is best known for his influential 6-LP Anthology of American Folk Music, as well as his experimental films…

#29 - The Magic Rustling - David Lynch 

Welcome to episode 29, The Magic Rustling, featuring renowned filmmaker, painter, and musician David Lynch (1946-present). From Eraserhead to the latest season of Twin Peaks, Lynch has forged a dream-soaked art so abstractly unique that it spawned the adjective Lynchian…

#28 - A Sound Within - Louise Landes Levi 

Welcome to episode 28, A Sound Within, featuring Buddhist musician, poet, translator, and world traveler, Louise Landes Levi. She has translated renowned mystic writers such as Mirabai, René Daumal, and Henri Michaux. She's released over a dozen books of her…

#26 - The High Priestess of Delphi - Eva Palmer-Sikelianos 

Welcome to episode 26, “The High Priestess of Delphi,” featuring composer, choreographer, master weaver, and Sapphic feminist, Eva Palmer-Sikelianos (1874-1952). After almost founding a lesbian artist colony on the Greek island of Lesbos with fellow Sapphic pioneer, Natalie Barney, Eva…

#25 - The Dawnbreakers - Russell & Gina Garcia 

Welcome to Episode 25, “The Dawnbreakers,” featuring Russell & Gina Garcia. Raised in Oakland, CA, Russell Garcia (1916-2011) was a world-renowned composer, arranger, and conductor, working for decades with jazz icons, as well as for major Hollywood film and tv…

#24 - The Song of the Violet Flame - Lotus Ray King 

Welcome to Episode 24, “The Song of the Violet Flame,” featuring harpist, composer, and religious leader, Lotus Ray King, aka Edna Ballard (1886-1971). Raised in Chicago, Ballard got into metaphysical literature and harp playing as a teenager. With her…

#23 - Music of the Gods (Hip Hop & the Five Percent Nation) 

Welcome to episode 23, Music of the Gods. Rather than focus on a single artist, this episode explores the role of the Five Percent movement in the origins and development of American hip hop. Founded in 1967 by Clarence 13X…

#22 - The South Side Shaman - Kelan Phil Cohran 

Welcome to Episode 22, The South Side Shaman, featuring trumpeter, harpist, composer, teacher, community activist, and astronomer Kelan Philip Cohran (1927-2017). Early on, Cohran joined the cosmic discipline of Sun Ra’s Arkestra for two years. Next he worked with Malcolm…

#21 - A Wandering Monk - Julius Eastman 

Welcome to episode 21, A Wandering Monk, featuring the brilliantly black, queer, composer, dancer, conductor, pianist, and grammy-nominated singer—Julius Eastman (1940-1990). His music often employed his unique “organic method” of composition, while some works, anticipating post-minimalism, fused avant-garde and…

Secret Sound - 20 - The Obeah Man (Tony McKay/Exuma) 

Welcome to Episode 20, The Obeah Man, featuring Bahamian born singer/songwriter, painter, and Obeah practitioner, Tony McKay (1942-1997). Coming to Greenwich Village in the 1960s, McKay took on the identity of Exuma, the Obeah Man. His mystical wardrobe, lyrics, paintings…

Secret Sound - 19 - The Religion of Dreams (Rahsaan Roland Kirk) 

Welcome to Episode 19, “The Religion of Dreams,” featuring Rahsaan Roland Kirk (1935-1937). Blind from the age of 2, Kirk became a maverick figure in the jazz world, notably for his ability to play three reed instruments at the same…

Secret Sound - 16 - The Emancipation Car (Joshua McCarter Simpson) 

Welcome to Episode 16, which focuses on 19th century abolitionist, song-poet, pastor, and herb doctor, Joshua McCarter Simpson (1821-1877). Simpson was born free but an indentured servant until the age of 21, after which he taught himself to read and…

Secret Sound - 15 - The Nature Singer (Charles Kellogg) 

Episode 15, “The Nature Singer,” features California-based musical naturalist, environmental activist, anti-gun, vegetarian, fire-extinguishing singer, and Christian Scientist, Charles Kellogg (1868-1949). He was raised for several years in the High Sierras by the Native American and Chinese members of his…

Secret Sound -14 - The Signing of Sound (Jerry Hunt) 

Welcome to Episode 14, “Signing of Sounds.” This episode features the enigmatic Texan composer and occultist, Jerry Hunt (1943-1993). Living in his self-made home in rural Texas most of his life, Hunt became a virtuoso avant-garde pianist, a pioneer of…

Secret Sound - 13 - Part 2 - The Magic of Tone (Dane Rudhyar) 

Welcome to Part 2 of Episode 13, "The Magic of Tone." This episode focuses on French-American composer, painter, poet, prolific author, and renowned astrologer, Dane Rudhyar (1895-1985). Coming to America from Paris in 1916, Rudhyar’s intuitively dissonant Theosophically inspired music…

Secret Sound - 13 - Part 1 - The Magic of Tone (Dane Rudhyar) 

Welcome to Part 1 of Episode 13, "The Magic of Tone." This episode focuses on French-American composer, painter, poet, prolific author, and renowned astrologer, Dane Rudhyar (1895-1985). Coming to America from Paris in 1916, Rudhyar’s intuitively dissonant Theosophically inspired music…

Secret Sound - 12 - Marcotone Meditations (Edward Maryon) 

Welcome to Episode 12, Marcotone Meditations. This episode features one of the stranger personas in our history, British-American Edward Maryon (1867-1954). He was a Theosophical composer, a mythical Count, a criminal forger of master paintings, and a man of many…

Secret Sound - 11 - The Cradle of Harmony (William Sidney Mount) 

Welcome to Episode 11, The Cradle of Harmony, on the life of painter, composer, fiddler, inventor, and spiritualist William Sidney Mount (1807-1868). Mount, who lived primarily in Stony Brook, Long Island, pioneered genre painting, giving a strong focus upon African-American…

Secret Sound - 10 - Surrounded By Infinite Space (Alan Hovhaness) 

Welcome to Episode 10, “Surrounded By Infinite Space.” With around 500 works to his name, Alan Hovhaness (1911-2000) is one of the most prolific American composers of the 20th century. His works are pervaded by an idiosyncratic mysticism and as…

Secret Sound - 9 - Born With Second Sight (Mary Lou Williams) 

Welcome to Episode 9, “Born With Second Sight.” Through the life of pianist and composer Mary Lou Williams, we meet a self-described psychic, a child prodigy pianist, and a renowned composer of zodiac jazz and catholic jazz masses. From her…

Secret Sound - 8 - An Unconventional Faith (Henry Cowell) 

Welcome to Episode 8, “An Unconventional Faith,” in which we explore the radical world of Henry Cowell (1897-1965). Cowell was one of the most prolifically experimental composers in American history. He was one of the first composers to incorporate diverse…

Secret Sound - 7 - A Veil of Sound (Ruth Crawford-Seeger) 

Welcome to Episode 7, "A Veil of Sound." Ruth Crawford Seeger (1901-1953) is a pioneering composer from the early 20th century, and the first female composer to win a Guggenheim fellowship. Her early experimental work was inspired by the esoteric…