WRUR 88.5 Different Radio

John Myers

Since 2017, John Myers has been the producer of NPR's World Cafe, which is produced by WXPN at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Previously he spent about eight years working on the other side of Philly at WHYY as a producer on the staff of Fresh Air with Terry Gross. John was also a member of the team of public radio veterans recruited to develop original programming for Audible and has worked extensively as a freelance producer. His portfolio includes work for the Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site, The Association for Public Art and the radio documentary, Going Black: The Legacy of Philly Soul Radio. He's taught radio production to preschoolers and college students and, in the late 90's, spent a couple of years traveling around the country as a roadie for the rock band Huffamoose.

We're thrilled to have Gary Clark Jr. on World Cafe today. Gary is a guitar prodigy from Austin who showed so much promise that the mayor held a ceremony to declare "Gary Clark Jr. Day" when he was still in high school.

Mavis Staples is one of America's defining voices of freedom and peace.

Her family's gospel group, The Staples Singers, led by her father Roebuck "Pops" Staples, marched with Dr. Martin Luther King and wrote songs like "Freedom Highway" and "Why Am I Treated So Bad" that provided part of the soundtrack of America's civil rights movement.

With her absolutely singular cadence and cool, Macy Gray poses a question on the opening track to her latest album, Ruby: "And I pray every night that my dreams come true/ Will I finally be happy if they do?"

The realm of dreams and the fulfillment they do or don't bring has been familiar to Gray since her debut album, On How Life Is, came out in 1999 with the song "I Try." It made her an instant megastar and Grammy winner. At the time, Gray was a single mother of three young kids.

Music may not see color, but the music industry certainly does. Until the systemic and overt biases that undermine our celebration of the contributions of black artists can be eradicated, we appreciate Black History Month as an opportunity to lay the groundwork for conversations we should be having and actions we should be taking year-round.

We first introduced listeners to Julia Jacklin when World Cafe's original host, David Dye, met up with her in Australia for our Sense of Place visit back in 2016. Now, Julia's returning the favor, joining us in the U.S. to share a sneak peek of her forthcoming record, Crushing, due out Feb. 22. The album is personal, intimate and beautiful.

Chan Marshall, who makes music as Cat Power, is a live wire, sparking in fits and starts while creative currents run through her. Sometimes it's staccato and sometimes it's smooth, and you get the sense that sometimes it's in her control and other times maybe it's not.

For this session, we took a trip out to Colorado to spend time with Gregory Alan Isakov. OK, not a real trip, but a radio trip.

Gregory was born in South Africa and raised in Philadelphia but now lives on his own farm in Colorado. That's where he made his latest album, Evening Machines, from inside a barn. His process includes writing snippets of ideas on colored Post-it Notes and putting them up on the walls.

Nothing, and, by extension, founder and band leader Dominic Palermo, has been called the unluckiest band in the world. There was the time when Palermo, rising star in the Philadelphia hardcore scene, stabbed someone during a fight one night and ended up in prison. There was the time, after he got out, when he was jumped after a show and nearly died.

Weren't we just here? Not that I'm complaining! David Crosby is one of my favorite people to talk to.

Crosby is in his late 70s and has released four albums in the past five years. What makes this current creative streak so inspiring and so puzzling to me is that none of these albums feels like a musical case of Déjà Croz. He's not making the same album over again. He's stretching sounds in ways that seem to surprise and delight even Crosby himself.

Mike Farris is unflinchingly optimistic. You can read it on his Twitter, hear it in his music and feel it in conversation when you talk with him. He can even have a laugh about the name of the band he played in during his 20s while signed to Atlantic Records, The Screamin' Cheetah Wheelies.

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