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Fresh Air

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Opening the window on contemporary arts and issues with guests from worlds as diverse as literature and economics.

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I hesitate to say it, but the one word that characterizes my best books of 2016 list is "serious." These books aren't grim and they're certainly not dull, but collectively they're serious about tackling big, sometimes difficult subjects — and they're also distinguished by seriously good writing. Here are 10 that you shouldn't miss. Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air . DAVE DAVIES, BYLINE: This is FRESH AIR. Our book critic Maureen Corrigan has her list of the 10-best books...

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air . DAVE DAVIES, BYLINE: This is FRESH AIR. I'm Dave Davies in for Terry Gross who has a bad cold. Yesterday just before she lost her voice, she recorded the interview we're about to hear with The New York Times' executive editor Dean Baquet about the challenges facing The New York Times and its coverage of President-elect Donald Trump. Trump's had a contentious relationship with the press, or the dishonest press, as he sometimes refers to...

As Donald Trump continues to court controversy via Twitter, Fox News host Megyn Kelly tells Fresh Air 's Terry Gross that the president-elect "really does need to be aware of the power that he has when he releases these tweets." Kelly felt that power firsthand in August 2015, when she pressed the candidate about his derogatory comments about women during the first Republican primary debate. Trump responded with a Twitter attack , which was quickly followed up by a barrage of...

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air . TERRY GROSS, HOST: This is FRESH AIR. There's a lot of music on Miranda Lambert's new album "The Weight Of These Wings," 24 songs over two CDs. Lambert has been working on the album for about a year and released it without much advance notice. It's giving listeners a lot to absorb. Rock critic Ken Tucker has a review. (SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "YOU WOULDN'T KNOW ME") MIRANDA LAMBERT: (Singing) You wouldn't know me if you saw me here. Wake up...

Eleven Americans describe what it's like to be transgender in Timothy Greenfield-Sanders' new HBO documentary, The Trans List . Though the individuals in the film come from varied backgrounds, there is at least one common thread to their experiences: "We all come out publicly," lawyer Kylar Broadus tells Fresh Air 's Terry Gross. "There is no hidden way to come out as a trans person." Broadus, who is profiled in the documentary, was born female but has been living as a man...

Fresh Air Weekend highlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks, and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our weekend show emphasizes interviews with writers, filmmakers, actors and musicians, and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week: Carrie Fisher Opens Up About 'Star Wars,' The Gold Bikini And Her On-Set Affair : In her new memoir, The Princess Diarist, Fisher looks back on playing Princess Leia when...

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air . DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST: This is FRESH AIR. I’m David Bianculli in for Terry Gross. Country music star Charlie Rich died in 1995 at age 62, but his influence is still strong in country music and beyond. A new tribute album with artists providing their versions of the songs he wrote and popularized is called "Feels Like Going Home: The Songs Of Charlie Rich." It includes recordings by Jim Lauderdale, Charlie Rich, Jr. and Holli Mosley, who...

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air . DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST: This is FRESH AIR. I'm David Bianculli, editor of the website TV Worth Watching, sitting in for Terry Gross. William Christenberry, a photographer and sculptor dedicated to capturing the good and bad elements of his native Deep South, died Monday of complications from Alzheimer's disease. He was 80 years old. Christenberry was born in 1936 in Tuscaloosa, Ala., during the Depression. He found his greatest...

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air . DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST: This is FRESH AIR. Although Jackie Kennedy was one of the most photographed celebrities of the last half century, she also was one of the most private. Now a new biopic called "Jackie" takes audiences into the White House in the days following her husband's assassination in Dallas. Natalie Portman plays Jackie Kennedy and the supporting cast includes Peter Sarsgaard as Robert F. Kennedy. Film critic David...

Donald Trump announced in a series of tweets Wednesday that he will be taking himself " completely out " of his business operations to avoid potential conflicts of interest as president. The president-elect did not offer details of the plan or say that he would divest financially from his businesses, but he did promise a news conference in the coming weeks that would address the issue. New York Times investigative reporter Eric Lipton tells Fresh Air 's Terry Gross...

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air . TERRY GROSS, HOST: This is FRESH AIR. Three years ago, the prolific guitarist Mary Halvorson put out a CD by a seven-piece band. Their follow up is for the same lineup plus one new member. Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead says much as he liked that previous album, this new arrival really shakes things up. (SOUNDBITE OF MARY HALVORSON OCTET SONG, "AWAY WITH YOU - NO 55") KEVIN WHITEHEAD, BYLINE: Guitarist Mary Halvorson's octet sounding like...

If any image haunts TV news, and perhaps our conscience, it's the seemingly ceaseless river of migrants seeking refuge from war, dictatorship and poverty. These desperate souls inspire pity, fear and election-year arguments about whether to offer them welcome or keep them out. Not surprisingly, many artists feel compelled to confront this refugee crisis. But the big question is: How do you engage a humanitarian tragedy without haranguing the audience or laying on a guilt trip? You get...

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air . TERRY GROSS, HOST: This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. My guest Kenneth Lonergan wrote and directed the new film "Manchester By The Sea." It was just named best film of the year by the National Board of Review. It's a moody film starring Casey Affleck as Lee Chandler, a man living in a neighborhood near Boston who seems to have cut himself off from life except for doing his job as the maintenance man in a small complex of apartments and...

Longtime activist Cleve Jones has dedicated his life to working with members of the LGBTQ community, but growing up he felt like the only gay person in the world. He tells Fresh Air 's Terry Gross that he felt so isolated as a teenager that he considered suicide. Then he read about the gay liberation movement in Life magazine and his outlook changed. "This magazine, in a matter of minutes, revealed to me that there were other people like me," Jones says. "There were a lot...

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air . TERRY GROSS, HOST: This is FRESH AIR. Our classical music critic Lloyd Schwartz lives in Boston and caught the beginning of the national tour of the new Broadway musical "An American In Paris." The show was inspired by the hit 1951 Hollywood movie starring Gene Kelly with music by George Gershwin. Here's Lloyd's review. (SOUNDBITE OF AN AMERICAN IN PARIS ORCHESTRA PERFORMANCE OF GERSHWIN'S, "CONCERTO IN F") LLOYD SCHWARTZ, BYLINE: When...

Carrie Fisher was an insecure 19-year-old when she appeared as Princess Leia in the first Star Wars movie, a role that would come to define her career. She tells Fresh Air 's Terry Gross that despite becoming romantically involved with her older, married co-star, Harrison Ford, she often felt isolated on set. "I didn't have anyone to confide in," she says. "I had no friends, and I couldn't talk about [the affair with Ford] because he was married." Instead, Fisher began...

Fresh Air Weekend highlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks, and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our weekend show emphasizes interviews with writers, filmmakers, actors and musicians, and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week: Novelist Zadie Smith On Historical Nostalgia And The Nature Of Talent: Her new book, Swing Time, tells the story of two girls who dream of being dancers, but only one has...

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air . DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST: This is FRESH AIR. I'm David Bianculli, editor of the website TV Worth Watching, in for Terry Gross. Leonard Cohen, the songwriter, singer, poet and author, died earlier this month at the age of 82, not long after the release of his album "You Want It Darker." The songs wrestle with mortality, are infused with biblical language and imagery and even argue with God. Let's hear the title song, "You Want It Darker."...

Johnny Cash: The 'Fresh Air' Interview

Nov 24, 2016

After recording hit country songs in the '50s and '60s, Cash's career cooled down. But in 1994, Cash collaborated with producer Rick Rubin, who transformed the Nashville has-been into an icon. Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air . TERRY GROSS, HOST: This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. Today we go into the archive to play back interviews with two music icons, Johnny Cash and Ray Charles. Our country may be politically divided but on this Thanksgiving Day, I think we can all...

Ray Charles: The 'Fresh Air' Interview

Nov 24, 2016

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air . TERRY GROSS, HOST: This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. On this Thanksgiving Day, we're giving thanks for great American music. We've gone into the archive for this 1998 interview with Ray Charles. He was nicknamed the genius, not just for his great singing and piano playing, but also for his producing, arranging and choice of songs. Although he's considered to have virtually invented soul, many of his great recordings were country songs...

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air . TERRY GROSS, HOST: This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. We're going to remember soul singer Sharon Jones, who died last Friday of pancreatic cancer. We have two interviews to play for you. Sharon Jones has been called the female James Brown. She grew up in his hometown Augusta, Ga., and imitated him as a child. She became known for fronting the band the Dap-Kings. The band's retro soul sound was also heard on several tracks of Amy...

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air . TERRY GROSS, HOST: This is FRESH AIR. Book critic Maureen Corrigan has a review of the new novel by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon. It's called "Moonglow," and it's loosely based on his grandfather's life. Chabon's other novels include "The Mysteries Of Pittsburgh," "Wonder Boys" and "The Amazing Adventures Of Kavalier And Clay." MAUREEN CORRIGAN, BYLINE: The deathbed scene. Literature provides no greater opportunity for...

As the child of a black mother and a white father in apartheid-era South Africa, Daily Show host Trevor Noah was the living, breathing evidence that a crime had been committed. Under apartheid, interracial couples who had engaged in sexual relations could be punished with years-long prison sentences, and biracial children like Noah could be taken away from their parents. As a result, Noah spent much of his early life in hiding. He tells Fresh Air 's Terry Gross, "My...

In a time of heated political differences, British novelist Zadie Smith says she enjoys talking to people with whom she disagrees. She tells Fresh Air' s Terry Gross that listening to conflicting viewpoints helps her find a place of connection with people whose beliefs are different from her own. Smith explains that she thinks of people as pluralistic, with different ideas that emerge depending on the historical context. "I don't believe that great swathes of the population are in...

Fresh Air Weekend highlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks, and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our weekend show emphasizes interviews with writers, filmmakers, actors and musicians, and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week: To Make 'The Godfather' His Way, Francis Ford Coppola Waged A Studio Battle: Coppola was 29 years old when he signed on to direct a film. "I was young and had no power," he says, "so...

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