3 episodes

In The RudeWoke Sessions, join Karen Kohler in conversation with creatives of all kinds, getting inside the un-curated story of their lives to reveal the defining moment that changed everything and set them on their paths as passionate artists, scientists, entrepreneurs, activists, explorers and more.

The Rudewoke Sessions Karen Kohler

    • Society & Culture

In The RudeWoke Sessions, join Karen Kohler in conversation with creatives of all kinds, getting inside the un-curated story of their lives to reveal the defining moment that changed everything and set them on their paths as passionate artists, scientists, entrepreneurs, activists, explorers and more.

    James Gavin, "Nothing But Desire"

    James Gavin, "Nothing But Desire"

    My guest today is author and photographer, James Gavin.

    James is the author of four acclaimed books and a much-published freelance journalist who has written for The New York Times, Vanity Fair, Time Out New York, the Daily Beast, and JazzTimes. His subjects have included Annie Lennox, Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Sinatra, Nina Simone, John Legend, John F. Kennedy, Jr., Miriam Makeba, Marilyn Monroe, Mae West, Ned Rorem, Edith Piaf, Karen Carpenter and Jacques Brel.

    A native New Yorker and graduate of Fordham University, James is the recipient of two ASCAP Awards for excellence in music journalism. He has contributed liner notes to over 500 CDs and his essay for the box set “Ella Fitzgerald – The Legendary Decca Recordings” was nominated for a Grammy. His acclaimed books include  Intimate Nights: The Golden Age of New York Cabaret (1991),  Deep in a Dream: The Long Night of Chet Baker (2002),  Stormy Weather: The Life of Lena Horne (2009), and  Is That All There Is?: The Strange Life of Peggy Lee (2014). His next biography George Michael: A Life will be published by Abrams and is due out in June 2022.

    “Gavin numbers among the rare breed of biographer capable of tremendous style and substance, meticulous about detail and accuracy yet blessed with exceptional storytelling élan.” ~ Christopher Loudon, MacLean’s

    James’ candid photos of small stage performance artists, I believe, deserve to be exhibited on their own merit. Singers are not always easy to photograph to good advantage, yet he manages frequently to capture us in moments of supreme naturalness and vulnerability. James possesses not only an ear for great singing but an eye for when to snap a photo of an artist deep inside their craft. “I have in my head this sense of what constitutes honesty in singing,” he says. “I know that there’s a moment that I catch or that I sense, when I’m feeling that same tingle I get by listening to singing – that moment of truth. I trust my sense of when these moments come.”

    On a snowy morning, I traveled from Brooklyn to James’ apartment in Manhattan and settled into a long chat with him surrounded by heaps of recordings, signed posters, books and CDs of the many singers and musicians he’s befriended worldwide. This Rudewoke Session is a unique conversation between a lover of singers and a singer; a veritable master class in what makes for authentic human connection in the art of song interpretation. Among the topics we covered are:

    * his solitary childhood and the comfort he found in books* the awakening that led him to become enraptured by the human voice and want to enter the world of singers* his early mentors and the theatricality of Catholicism* the importance of empathy and the lure of sadness* the qualities that make for honesty in singing and passionate storytelling* the reason he feels so alive in Brazil, his second home* his advice for young writers and the writing process* why he believes we’re living through a major time that will be taught in history books, and much much more.

    For more information about this podcast, visit https://karenkohler.com/gathering/podcast/

    • 2 hr 9 min
    Luba Mason, "It's About Freedom"

    Luba Mason, "It's About Freedom"

    My guest today is American singer, actress, dancer and songwriter, Luba Mason.

    Luba has starred on Broadway in shows like How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Paul Simon’s Capeman, Jekyll and Hyde, Chicago, and most recently as morphine-addicted Mrs. Burke in the critically-acclaimed Girl From the North Country featuring the music of Bob Dylan.

    Born in New York City to first-generation immigrants from Slovakia, Luba is married to Panamanian musician, actor and activist Ruben Blades. She just released her third solo album, Triangle, for which she chose the uncommon line-up of just voice, vibraphone and bass to showcase an eclectic form of musical cross-currents she calls Mixtura.

    Luba and I met in the cast of a revival of Charles Dickens’ Nicholas Nickleby here in New York several years ago where I experienced first-hand her chops as actress, singer and comedienne. Because we share a heritage in Central Europe and certain artistic sensibilities, I wanted to sit down to chat and get to know her better. This we did on an early Autumn in New York kind of day, complete with the occasional siren in the background and thumping of a radiator.

    Our conversation is timely, rangy and revealed as Luba shares key awakenings, rude and otherwise, along her rich journey through art and partnership. We discuss:

    * her pressured childhood as a young, aspiring musician and younger sister* the trait her favorite Broadway roles all have in common* how meeting Latin music icon, Ruben Blades, opened up her world and musical affinities* her thoughts on the key ingredient necessary for both art and partnership to thrive* her next dream project as she continues to challenge herself and growand much more…

    • 1 hr 42 min
    Dennis McKenna, "The Plants Are Running the Show"

    Dennis McKenna, "The Plants Are Running the Show"

    In the RudeWoke Sessions, join Karen Kohler in conversation with creatives of all kinds, getting inside the un-curated story of their lives to reveal the defining moment that changed everything and set them on their paths as passionate artists, scientists, entrepreneurs, activists, explorers and more.

    Today's guest, Dennis McKenna, is a founding member and director of ethnopharmacology at the Heffter Research Institute, a non-profit investigating the potential therapeutic uses of psychedelic medicines. He’s a sought-after lecturer and speaker, and has written several books including an autobiography, The Brotherhood of the Screaming Abyss, in which he shares the story of his relationship with his older brother, Terence McKenna (ethnobotanist, poet and mystic). Dennis is the founder of the McKenna Academy of Natural Philosophy, something about which he’s very excited! In our conversation, we’ll discuss:

    * his earliest aspirations and the pivotal figures in his childhood* the McKenna Brothers’ impactful journey to find the secret at La Chorrera* his insights into plant wisdom and thoughts on humanity’s future* his founding of a 21st century mystery school echoing Eleusis and much more…

    To learn more about the podcast, visit https://karenkohler.com/gathering/podcast/

    • 1 hr 49 min

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