The Kitchen Sisters Present… Stories from the b-side of history. Lost recordings, hidden worlds, people possessed by a sound, a vision, a mission. The episodes tell deeply layered stories, lush with interviews, field recordings and music. From powerhouse producers The Kitchen Sisters (Hidden Kitchens, The Hidden World of Girls, The Sonic Memorial Project, Lost & Found Sound, Fugitive Waves and coming soon… The Keepers). "The Kitchen Sisters have done some of best radio stories ever broadcast" —Ira Glass. The Kitchen Sisters Present is produced in collaboration with Nathan Dalton and Brandi Howell and mixed by Jim McKee. A proud member of Radiotopia, from PRX. Learn more at radiotopia.fm.
Harvesting Wild Rice—White Earth Ojibwe Land Recovery Project
Each fall, the Ojibwe tribes of northern Minnesota harvest wild rice by hand. It’s a long process that begins with families in canoes venturing into the tall grasses, where rice is poled and gently brushed with knockers into the bed of the canoe. We journey to White Earth Reservation, out onto Big Rice Lake in a canoe, to see how one tribe is supporting itself and changing the diet of its people through community kitchen projects.
And we talk with the founder of White Earth Land Recovery Project, Ojibwe leader, Winona LaDuke, about the land, her fight to save wild rice, GMOs, her family, philosophy, and her candidacy for vice president of the United States on the Green Party ticket with Ralph Nader.
LaDuke is an Ojibwe leader, writer, food activist, rural development economist, environmentalist, Harvard graduate —and a force to be reckoned with. She’s the executive director of Honor the Earth, and most recently she was a leader at Standing Rock fighting the Dakota Access pipeline.
When we visited Winona on the White Earth Reservation in 2004 for our Hidden Kitchens story Harvest on Big Rice Lake she spoke to us about her family, her life and work—and about how her Ojibwe father met her bohemian/artist/Jewish mother in New York City, how her dad went on to Hollywood to star in the Westerns and how he later became the New Age spiritual leader called Sun Bear.
Born in Los Angeles and raised in Oregon, Winona moved to White Earth, her father’s reservation, after she graduated from Harvard in 1982. When she first arrived, she worked as the principal of the Reservation’s high school and became active in local issues. Seven years later, she started the non profit White Earth Land Recovery Project, dedicated to restoring the local economy and food systems and preserving wild rice.
Today Winona LaDuke operates a 40-acre industrial hemp farm on the White Earth Indian Reservation with the idea of creating textiles for the people and the planet — of working towards a non petroleum based future. And she’s started 8th Fire Solar, operated by Anishinaabe, manufacturing solar thermal panels.
“According to Anishinaabe prophecies, we are in the time of the Seventh Fire. At this time, it is said we have a choice between a path that is well-worn and scorched, and a path that is green and unworn. If we move toward the green path, the Eighth Fire will be lit and people will come together to make a better future.”
From Nashville to Nairobi: A History of County Western Music in Kenya
We trace the history of country music in Kenya, dating back to the 1920s and 30s when local populations first heard Jimmie Rodgers on early country western 78 records, to the current day, where the clubs of Nairobi are filled with rising stars bringing their own unique sounds to country music.
Hear their takes on the hits of Don Williams, Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton and more. And an interview and performance from Kenyan country singer Steve Rogers, radio and TV presenters Catherine Ndonye and David Kimitho, music historian Elijah Wald, and Olvido Records founder Gordon Ashworth.
The music and stories of other artists in this episode include: John Nzenze. Reuben Kigame, Don Williams, Sir Elvis, Sammy Ngaku-Rosana, Herbert Misango, Frances Rugwiti, Carlos Kiba, Ythera Cowgirl, Steve Rogers, HM Karuiki, Joseph Kamaru.
Produced by Brandi Howell for Afropop Worldwide
The Kitchen Sisters Present is produced by The Kitchen Sisters (Nikki Silva & Davia Nelson) with Brandi Howell and Nathan Dalton. Support comes from the National Endowment for the Arts and contributors to the non-profit Kitchen Sisters Productions.
The Kitchen Sisters Present is part of the Radiotopia Network from PRX.
Manny’s: A Civic Gathering Place
As elections loom, we need to get involved, step up to the civic plate, take part in discourse. And that’s what Manny Yekutiel has been driven to do since 2018. He’s created a community-focused meeting place in San Francisco — a gathering space for people to watch presidential debates, meet people working on the front lines of social change, and discuss issues with policy makers in person. From community forums debating the new trash can designs in San Francisco, to town hall meetings with political candidates for the Senate and the Presidency, Manny’s is place to commune, listen, and be heard.
They’ve got a restaurant — Farming Hope, a non-profit that hires formerly homeless and formerly incarcerated individuals and trains them in the food skills needed to work in the restaurant industry. They’ve got a bookstore specializing in local history and politics — with no pressure to buy books.
During the pandemic when every restaurant in town was building parklets on the street, Manny’s built a long string of outdoor booths, where instead of serving food, they ran a highly organized ‘Get Out the Vote’ campaign with citizens flocking to their parklet to text and phone bank for the 2020 Election.
As church basements and social clubs fade as places where young people feel comfortable gathering, Manny has created a place — not home, not work — but a ‘third place’ where people can come together to meet and engage with civic leaders, elected officials, artists, and activists.
Thanks to Precious Green and to the staff of Farming Hope. Thanks also to Valerie Velardi who led us to Manny’s, and to Manny Yekutiel for the time and the vision.
The Kitchen Sisters Present is part of the Radiotopia from PRX, a network of hand crafted, independent, vibrant podcasts that widen your world.
Linda Ronstadt: Feels Like Home - A Song for the Sonoran Borderlands
The legendary Linda Ronstadt has a new book out. Feels Like Home: A Song for the Sonoran Borderlands — a historical, musical, edible memoir that spans the story of five generations of Linda’s Mexican American German family, from the Sonoran desert in Mexico to the Ronstadt family hardware store in Tucson to the road that led Linda to LA and musical stardom. Intimate and epic, "this is little Linda, Mexican Linda, cowgirl Linda, desert Linda."
The book, written in collaboration with New York Times writer Lawrence Downes, is a road trip through the Sonoran Borderlands, from Tucson to Banámichi, Mexico — the path Linda’s immigrant grandfather took at a time when the border was not a place of peril but of possibility.
We went to see Linda at home to ask her about the journey.
This story was produced by The Kitchen Sisters (Davia Nelson & Nikki Silva) and Evan Jacoby in collaboration with Brandi Howell and Nathan Dalton. Mixed by Jim McKee
Thanks to Lawrence Downes, John Boylan, Bill Steen, Janet Stark and The PRX Podcast Garage. And to the team at Heyday Books: Steve Wasserman, Kalie Caetano & Megan Beatie and to Putamayo Music who just released Feels Like Home: Songs From The Sonoran Borderlands, Linda Ronstadt’s Musical Odyssey.
Special thanks to Linda Ronstadt for opening her home and her vault to this story.
198 - The Real Ambassadors: Dave Brubeck, Iola Brubeck, and Louis Armstrong
The story of The Real Ambassadors, a jazz musical created by Dave Brubeck and Iola Brubeck for Louis Armstrong in the 1950/60s—a poignant tale of cultural exchange, anti-racism, jazz history, and it’s a love story—between life-long husband and wife partners, Iola and Dave Brubeck and their vision for a better world.
The original show, featured Louis Armstrong, Carmen McCrae, Dave Brubeck and Lambert Hendricks and Bavan, and was performed live only once, at the Monterey Jazz Festival in 1962. This year’s Monterey Jazz Festival, September 23-25, 2022, is the 60th Anniversary of the performance.
The musical is based on the Jazz Ambassadors Program established by President Eisenhower and the US State Department during the Cold War as an effort to win hearts and minds around the world. Jazz musicians were sent out to represent the freedom and creativity of America through their art form. The irony is that Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie and most of the other Jazz Ambassadors were Black—they were treated like royalty around the world, but could not stay in hotels or play in integrated bands in their own country.
The Brubeck’s musical was a chance for Louis Armstrong to speak out about his deep feelings about racism and segregation in this country — feelings he rarely expressed publicly.
The story features original music, rare archival recorded letters back and forth between the Brubecks and Louis Armstrong about the project, rehearsal recordings and interviews with Dave and Iola Brubeck. Other voices include: the Brubeck’s sons, Chris and Dan Brubeck; Keith Hatschek, author of newly released book, "The Real Ambassadors;” Ricky Riccardi, Director of Research Collections for the Louis Armstrong House Museum; and singer/actress Yolande Bavan, the last surviving performer involved in the project.
Thanks to: Keith Hatschek, Chris, Brubeck, Dan Brubeck, Ricky Riccardi, Yolande Bavan, Lisa Cohen, and Wynton Marsalis.
Special thanks to: The Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation and the Louis Armstrong House Museum; Michael Bellacosa and the Brubeck Collection, Wilton Library, Wilton, Connecticut; The Complete Louis Armstrong Columbia & RCA Victor Studio Sessions 1946-66 Mosaic Records 270; The Milken Family Foundation Archive Oral History Project; and The Library of Congress.
The Real Ambassadors was produced by The Kitchen Sisters (Nikki Silva and Davia Nelson) and Brandi Howell in collaboration with Jackson Spenner. Mixed by Jim McKee.
197 - What Fire Reveals: Stories from the Amah Mutsun, Big Basin and the Lightning Fires in the Santa Cruz Mountains
In the early morning hours of August 16, 2020, 12,000 lightning strikes exploded across northern California, igniting more than 585 wildfires. In the Santa Cruz Mountains scattered blazes grew into one massive burning organism — The CZU August Lightning Complex Fire — eating all in its path, scorching some 86,000 acres, destroying over 900 homes and Big Basin, California’s first state park.
We hear from young men and women from the Amah Mutsun Tribal band who have been working to clear and steward the land; archaeologists and historians from the historic Big Basin redwood State Park; and from residents of the Santa Cruz mountains who shared their experiences and stories for the historical record.
This story grew out of a collaboration with the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History. People who lost their homes in the blaze were invited to bring in artifacts sifted from the ashes to be photographed by award winning photographer Shmuel Thaler and to be interviewed by The Kitchen Sisters about the fire, their homes, the environment, their lives.
For more stories, photos and a video about the fires and this project visit kitchensisters.org.
Special thanks to: Valentin Lopez, Chairman of the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band; Mark Hylkema, Cultural Resources Program Manager, Tribal Liaison, Archeologist, CA State Parks Santa Cruz District; Martin Rizzo Martinez, Historian, CA State Parks Santa Cruz District; Jennifer Daly, Museum Collections Manager, CA State Parks, Santa Cruz District; Dana Frank, Professor of History, UCSC; Members of The Amah Mutsun Land Trust and Stewardship Program; and all of the many who shared their stories for the historical record.
With support from The California Humanities and The National Endowment for the Arts.
Produced by The Kitchen Sisters (Nikki Silva & Davia Nelson) and mixed by Jim McKee in collaboration with Grace Rubin, Brandi Howell and Nathan Dalton. In collaboration with photographer Shmuel Thaler and The Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History,
Flawed, but worth it for the unique content.
Really, really good for the most part. Travels some interesting territory. The sound quality varies, because of the source material, which is understandable. Where the podcast falters is when the hosts interject themselves into the stories or interviews. They bring a certain 'white American crunchy granola NPR cultural tourist' vibe to the proceedings that sometimes just takes you out of story. Beyond that, it's a very pleasant listen and they unearth some amazing forgotten audio gems. Oh,
Disappointing that such an intelligent, humanistic and nuanced audio project would allow itself to serve as the soap box for jingoistic calls to escalate conflict with a nuclear power.
Music and Sounds
Background music and sounds are too loud and distracting. I had to stop listening.