Arts and Culture

Folk Singer Willie Watson Brings Classic Folk and Blues to Birmingham

Guitar, banjo and harmonica player Willie Watson was a founding member of Old Crow Medicine Show, a popular Nashville-based Americana band. He left in 2011, after almost fifteen years performing with the band. Since then, Watson has been exploring his love of old folk music. His first solo album, "Folk Singer, Vol. 1" comes out next month. Watson plays Wednesday, April 2, at The Bottletree Cafe.

Going Natural: It’s Not Just a Hairstyle, It’s a Lifestyle

It was the summer of 2002, and I was probably on hour three of the tedious process of attempting to straighten my hair with all the heat my scalp could stand. This, of course, was in addition to the chemical hair relaxer occasionally applied to my tresses. While I wrestled with my hair, my roommate turned to me and said, "Maybe your hair doesn't want to be straight. Why don't you just wear it curly?"

Birmingham Native Callie Courter’s New Album ‘Love is for the Brave’

Callie Courter can't remember when she wasn't writing poetry and singing around the house. The Birmingham native started writing song lyrics while majoring in music at UAB. As a graduation present, her dad financed the production of her first album, called 'Love Is For The Brave.' She now lives in Nashville, where she's chasing her dreams of being a professional musician. Courter sat down with Les Lovoy to tell WBHM about the new album, her first experience in the studio, and her songwriting process.

Sustainability: Creating Art Through Recycled Glass

Recycling glass in Birmingham can be tricky. It can't be put on the curbside like most recyclables. One of residents' few options is to take it to a downtown recycling center where two 30-yard containers wait to be filled with the unwanted material. The glass that's dropped off doesn't stay in Birmingham for long. It's shipped to Tennessee and Georgia to make fiberglass, bottles, and cement. But two Birmingham artists are trying to reuse the glass and keep it in the state.

Leon Botstein: Music is so important because it has no purpose

UAB has awarded the 2014 Ireland Distinguished Visiting Scholar Prize to Dr. Leon Botstein. The award brings to campus outstanding scholars who are recognized as leaders in the arts and sciences. While at UAB, Botstein conducted a special performance of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra at UAB's Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center. Botstein also lectured and met with students and faculty in the UAB College of Arts and Sciences. He spoke with WBHM's Michael Krall

Robert May: A Holocaust Survivor’s Story

On November 9, 1938, hundreds of Jewish synagogues, homes, and businesses were vandalized, ransacked or destroyed. Thousands of Jews were arrested, some even killed, by order of Adolf Hilter. Dr. Robert May of Birmingham was twelve years old and living in Frankfurt, Germany during the uprise of Hitler's power, including the night of Kristallnacht. He shares his story with us.

TEDxBirmingham: Rediscover the Magic of Birmingham

This past Saturday was TEDxBirmingham. The event featured 15 local speakers who came together with one goal: to help attendees "Rediscover the Magic" of Birmingham through new ideas. WBHM's Program Director Michael Krall was in attendance. He spoke to WBHM's Sarah Delia about his experience at TEDxBirmingham.

In Search of My Womanist Self

When someone says they identify as a feminist, some images and assumptions come to mind. But what if someone were to self identify as a womanist? What would you think then? The meaning behind these two words may sound similar, but they spark great debate. Our guest blogger Javacia Harris Bowser explores this in her monthly post for WBHM.

Robert Schindler: Bringing Delacroix To Birmingham

The Birmingham Museum of Art has hired a new curator for European Art, Robert Schindler. As he settles into his new role, his first task is to curate a collection of work by the French Romantic artist, Eugene Delacroix. WBHM's Sarah Delia took a sneak peek behind the exhibition "Delacroix and the Matter of Finish."

INTERVIEW: Controversial Comedian Bill Maher

For his decades-long career, comedian and commentator Bill Maher has skewered cherished customs and beliefs. Whether on his HBO show "Real Time with Bill Maher," in his film "Religulous," or doing stand-up, he doesn't shy away from controversy. Politics, drugs, faith -- nothing is sacred. He'll be performing in Birmingham this Sunday, but WBHM's Dan Carsen caught up with him first. It's a serious conversation, but it starts out on a light note and ranges far and wide from there.

Vivian Fung: Harp Concerto World Premiere with ASO

Composer Vivian Fung is in town rehearsing her Harp Concerto with the Alabama Symphony Orchestra. The world premier is Thursday night at the Alys Stephens Center. Fung spoke with WBHM's Michael Krall.

Ryan Kattner: On Oni Pond

The leader of the experimental indie group, Ryan Kattner, speaks to WBHM's Sarah Delia about the group's latest album On Oni Pond. Kattner also reveals insights to his creative process and his constant source of inspiration: heartbreak.

Javacia Harris Bowser: 365 Days of Fitness

Our guest blogger, Javacia Harris Bowser, speaks to WBHM's Sarah Delia about her fitness goal for 2014.

Musician Preforms Online Concerts for Birmingham Students Stuck Overnight at School

There were many ways Alabamians banded together to help each other during this week's surprise winter storm. A doctor walked six miles to the hospital to perform surgery. A Facebook page linked trapped motorists with good Samaritans to provide aid. Even a musician in Tennessee found a way to help. Roger Day heard about the thousands of children stuck at schools. So he treated them to impromptu online concerts. He tells WBHM's Rachel Osier Lindley how the concerts came together.

Strong is the New Skinny

I have declared on my blog, on my social media networks, and to all my close family members and friends that I am going to exercise every day in 2014. Yes, I plan to work out 365 consecutive days.

Neko Case: The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight

Singer song writer Neko Case opens up about her struggles with depression and the role it played in her latest album.

Shaheed and DJ Supreme

Rapper Shaheed and his producer DJ Supreme have been a mainstay of the Birmingham hip-hop scene for more than 10 years. But they aren't your typical southern hip-hop artists. As Muslims and fans of traditional rap, the duo aims to create socially conscious music with old school beats. Their latest release is called "Knowledge, Rhythm, and Understanding" and they perform Saturday at the Bottletree Cafe.

Leroy Stover: Birmingham’s First Black Police Officer

Leroy Stover joined the Birmingham Police Department in 1966 as the city's first black police officer. He recounts his career, struggles, and triumphs with WBHM's Sarah Delia.

Act of Congress: Christmas Vol. 2

The Birmingham acoustic quartet features influences from jazz, rock and pop and just released an album of Christmas songs. WBHM's Michael Krall spoke with band members Adam Wright and Chris Griffin and produced this audio postcard. (Note: Click the title bar above for music downloads.)

Dar Williams: Finding Her Musical Voice

Singer-songwriter Dar Williams has been compared to Joni Mitchell and Joan Baez but with a bit of an acidic twist. Her ninth studio album is called In The Time of Gods. Williams performs in Birmingham Tuesday night and she spoke with WBHM's Michael Krall.

Restoring the Lyric

As officials work to restore the Lyric Theatre in downtown Birmingham, some obstacles could be expected -- funding the project, removing lead paint and plumbing issues. But there are tougher, less obvious challenges too. When the Lyric opened in 1914, Birmingham was a city with lines of segregation and the theatre reflects that. So how do you faithfully restore a historic building still physically marked by the city's racist past?

Stephen Hough: Playing the piano isn’t enough

Stephen Hough is one of the world's leading pianists, but he's also been described a as a renaissance man -- excelling as a writer and composer. It's all part of his creativity beyond the piano. But it also adds to his creativity and his musical personality. He performs with the Alabama Symphony Orchestra Friday and Saturday night.

Birmingham Author’s JFK Assassination Book Inspires Play

Next Friday, November 22, marks the 50th Anniversary of the assignation of President John F. Kennedy. It's a story James Douglas of Birmingham knows well. He's the author of the 2008 book "JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters." It’s a detailed account of his research into President Kennedy's work for peace and his assignation. The book has been adapted into a play, entitled "Noah’s Ark," by Pittsburgh playwright Ginny Cunningham. The Birmingham Festival Theatre will present a staged reading of the play this Sunday, November 17, at 2 p.m. As Douglas and Cunningham describe in this interview, there were many challenges involved in turning Douglas's 500-plus page book into a 90 minute play. The version presented in Birmingham this weekend is three years and 20 drafts in the making.

Birmingham Ghost Tours: Revealing the Unseen

Walk around downtown Birmingham and you see many old, vacant buildings. But Wolfgang Poe argues just because you can't see someone in one of those old buildings doesn't mean nobody's there.

Meet Danail Rachev: ASO Guest Conductor

Since the 2011-2012 season the Alabama Symphony Orchestra has been led by esteemed guest conductors from all over the world. One of these conductors could eventually become the new Music Director and Principal Conductor of the orchestra. This weekend Danail Rachev continues that trend and pays a return visit to Birmingham.

Yotam Haber: A More Convenient Season

A work of new music by composer Yotam Haber will have its world premiere Saturday night at UAB’s Alys Stephens Center.  Featuring the Alabama Symphony Orchestra, “A More Convenient Season” was written specifically for and about Birmingham’s Civil Rights struggle. WBHM’s Michael Krall spoke with Haber about the piece….

WBHM Looks Back On 1963

Throughout the past year WBHM has marked the key moments from the civil rights movement and explored the legacy of events of 1963. Today we take a look back on some of those stories and voices.

The Mystery of Addie Mae Collins’ Remains

While Birmingham marked the 50th anniversary of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing this weekend, a mystery lingers about one the victims. Three of the four girls killed in the bombing were buried in Greenwood Cemetery near the Birmingham airport. There’s a gravestone for Addie Mae Collins, but her remains are not actually there. One woman is trying to figure out where they are.

Four Spirits Statue, Memorial to 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing Victims, Unveiled

City and civil rights leaders unveiled the “Four Spirits” statue in Kelly Ingram Park Saturday memorializing the victims of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, one day before the 50th anniversary of that tragedy. Other than a plaque on the side of the church, it's the first permanent memorial to the victims.

A Sunday School Lesson From the 16th Street Baptist Church

Verses from a Sunday School lesson taught the day of the bombing at the 16th Street Baptist Church will once again be shared with the church's youth this Sunday. WBHM's Sarah Delia visited the church to hear how those Bible verses resonate 50 years later.

The Story Behind Newsweek’s 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing Cover

Among many haunting images from the aftermath of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham is a Newsweek magazine cover from 1963. It shows Maxine McNair, whose daughter Denise died in the blast, grieving with her sister. That photograph came about in an unexpected way. Birmingham resident Reggie Holder tells how he stumbled across the story.

Black Women Don’t Exercise

Have you heard the stereotype that black women don't exercise? African-American women are at an increased risk of obesity and more likely to die from cardiovascular disease than white women. While WBHM Race and Diversity Blogger Javacia Harris Bowser is big on fitness, she's also making sure her mother doesn't become a statistic.