Arts & Culture

Arts and culture

Michelle Belanger playing guitar on stage.
Courtesy of Michelle Belanger

Mystery Hillbillies are a band of misfits. The band is frontwoman Michelle Belanger and a rotating cast of “sidemen.” The group plays a wide range of music, including country, western swing and blues from the early 1940s to today.

Party food and snack recipes for the big game

Feb 1, 2019

It's almost time for the biggest football game of the year. Keep your game day party guests happy with a full spread of snacks. We're featuring a few of our favorites for you here. For more snack and party food ideas, see our complete Super Bowl Recipes Collection.

Corn Chip Strips

Photo: Lara Ferroni

Enter to win a set of cheese books by Tia Keenan

Feb 1, 2019

February 2019 Giveaway

Bearing Witness

Jan 31, 2019
Tara Welch

Alice Schaffer, a preacher's daughter, grows up in fear of the lessons learned in Sunday school. 
Dawn Ross tries to adjust to life in rural Arkansas.
D. Parvaz, a journalist covering the uprising in Syria, is arrested and imprisoned.
Leland Melvin suffers a devastating injury that cuts short his dream of flying in space.

When They Took My Son

Jan 31, 2019

We examine the stories of two families separated in 2018 at the U.S.-Mexico border and how what happened to them matches up with what the government said was supposed to happen.

Sound Opinions: Weird Instruments of Rock

Jan 31, 2019

Forget about the guitar, bass, and drums. This week, Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot explore some of the weirder instruments of rock from the theremin to the ocarina to the cowbell.

a photo of Beatrice Capote & Fana Fraser on stage
Beatrice Capote & Fana Fraser, Photo by Kirk Richard Smith

What images arise with the phrase ‘black girl?’ When choreographer Camille A. Brown asked that question to an audience, she was dismayed with their response: negative comments and mocking gestures.

Mandolin Orange To Unleash 'Tides of a Teardrop'

Jan 31, 2019
A picture of Emily Frantz and Andrew Marlin.
Mark Maya /

Americana darlings Mandolin Orange will release a new record tomorrow called Tides of a Teardrop. It's been a couple of years since Andrew Marlin and Emily Frantz released Blindfaller, which earned the duo rave reviews and an expanding audience.

Chef Magnus Nilsson is the head chef of Fäviken restaurant in Sweden. Over the last six years, while running the world-famous kitchen, he also managed to find the time to travel to every region of every Nordic country to document how they cook and bake, and what they eat.

komersreal / Creative Commons

We’re going to make you an offer you can’t refuse. The State of Things wants to know about your favorite gangster, mafia, and mob movies for the next edition of Movies On The Radio.

Photo of artists Bless Nova (right) and René Roman
Laura Pellicer / WUNC

By age 6, Brenda Nolasco had already laid down her first professional recording — a youthful iteration of Whitney’s Houston’s “Greatest Love of All.” Nolasco was surrounded by music as a child: her uncle was a professional trumpet player, and her brother, sister and aunts were all gifted singers. But Nolasco got a late start on telling her own story through music. 

Graphic for the podcast showing light coming through the wooden slats of a barn
The Bitter Southerner

Chuck Reece was tired of the lingering stereotypes of the South, like debutantes and hillbillies. A few years ago he came across a list of the top 50 bars in the world which did not include a single venue in the American South. The snub jolted him to action and inspired the creation of a website showcasing the region’s best bars and drinks. 

Andrew Marlin and Emily Frantz of Mandolin Orange.
Courtesy of Kendall Bailey

Mandolin Orange is known for its intimate harmonies and delicately layered instrumentals. The duo, made up of husband and wife Andrew Marlin and Emily Frantz, has won accolades with that distinct sound. Their 2016 album “Blindfaller” debuted at number three on the Billboard Bluegrass Chart and was named one of Rolling Stones top 40 country albums of that year.

Bagels past and present with chef Dianna Daoheung

Jan 25, 2019

New York City is known worldwide for its bagels, but they are not the be-all, end-all. There are many traditions and styles within the world bagels. Dianna Daoheung is the executive chef and head baker at Black Seed Bagels in New York, and a two-time James Beard award nominee for Outstanding Baker. She stopped by the studio to talk with Francis Lam about the history of bagels and their stylistic differences. They also taste bagels including her own from Black Seed, which are a hybrid of the New York and Montreal styles.

Magnus Nilsson is one of the most respected chefs in the world. While overseeing the kitchen and menu at his restaurant Fäviken, somehow he also managed to travel to every corner of every Nordic country and write/photograph not one, but two books documenting recipes for every single food in every cuisine he found.

Bread is ever present in many cuisines. It's for mopping up juices, eating with butter or oil, or it's an art form to itself. We can’t think of a cuisine that puts its bread more front and center than the food of Ethiopia. Meals are served on a bread called injera as the plate. Injera is like a sour, spongy pancake. There is an fantastic Ethiopian restaurant in Brooklyn called Awash.

Next to cornbread, there is probably no American bread that inspires more passion than biscuits. They have a legendary mystique. Erika Council is a software engineer, writer/photographer, and biscuit maker who runs the Bomb Biscuits pop-up in Atlanta and the Southern Soufflé recipe website. She is unimpressed with all the pomp around making biscuits, but that’s not to say she doesn’t take them very seriously.

Sound Opinions: Buried Treasures

Jan 24, 2019

Looking for some exciting new music to augment your 2019 playlist? Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot share some of their latest buried treasures: favorite recent under-the-radar records that you need to hear!

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez showing the internet trolls that Congresspeople can dance.
Screenshot @AOC

California Sen. Kamala Harris joined the growing list of Democratic contenders for the 2020 presidential race earlier this week. How will her legacy as a prosecutor and her biracial identity impact her campaign and candidacy? It is one of many topics popular culture experts Mark Anthony Neal and Natalie Bullock Brown take on with host Frank Stasio in the latest installment of #BackChannel, The State of Things’ recurring series connecting culture and context. 

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify and Apple Music playlists at the bottom of the page.

In our Daily Bread episode we talked about a wide variety of breads from around world. But, when we asked our friends at America’s Test Kitchen what they’d want to share with us, the answer surprised us: white bread. Turns out their editor Tucker Shaw is obsessed with it. Sally Swift talked with him about the beauty of making white bread at home and got his amazingly simple recipe for American Sandwich Bread.

The Mystery of Mountain Jane Doe

Jan 23, 2019

Investigators dig up an unidentified murder victim, 45 years after she was buried, in an attempt to give her back her name. The exhumation leads to a series of unexpected revelations about who she was and why she may have been killed. Her case speaks to the complexity – and importance – of opening up cold cases.

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Awards season is in full bloom. The Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild Awards and The Oscars all consider “A Star is Born” and “Black Panther” among the best films of 2018.

Don't Stop the Music

Jan 23, 2019
Liz Linder

David Montgomery gets immersed in Spice World. Cal Street describes her time as part of The Velvelettes. Dawn Smith grows up in a cult that forbids music. Jin Au-Yeung's lyricism connects him to Barack Obama.

Shanelle Nicole Leonard and April Mae Davis to star in 'Jump.'
Courtesy of HuthPhoto

The latest play on stage from Playmakers Repertory Company in Chapel Hill is centered on the topics of suicide, grief and depression, yet playwright Charly Evon Simpson still threads theatrical whimsy and humor throughout the production. Simpson draws from her background in social work to create characters who are honest and funny despite the grief they are experiencing, like the protagonist Fay. 

Frank Harmon sketch of Wesley U.M. Church in Jacksonboro, South Carolina.
Courtesy of Frank Harmon

Frank Harmon has made a career of designing buildings that reflect their owners and the landscape. In 2013, the architect started a blog to celebrate the beautiful and often humble designs he encountered. The process for the posts was rather simple: 

A headshot of Georgiary Bledsoe
Courtesy of Georgiary Bledsoe

From an early age, Georgiary Bledsoe aspired to a life beyond what she knew as a child. She is the youngest of 17 siblings and grew up very poor in East Saint Louis, Illinois, a city often considered one of the most dangerous in America.

Comedienne  Hilliary S. Begley at White Labs Kitchen making dumplings.
Courtesy of Jameykay Huffman

Asheville-based stand up comic Hilliary S. Begley had never acted professionally before landing a role in the hit Netflix movie “Dumplin.’” The film stars Jennifer Aniston, and is hailed as a feel-good, must-see movie of the season. It tells the story of a self-conscious teenage girl named Willowdean (Will), played by Danielle MacDonald, and her beauty-obsessed mother, played by Aniston, who is more concerned with running her beauty pageant than building a relationship with her daughter. 

The Onyx Club Boys approach Django Reinhardt's music with a joie de vivre that would make the jazz legend proud.
Courtesy of Gabriel Pelli

Guitarist and composer Django Reinhardt is regarded as one of the greatest musicians of the 20th century. The Romani-French composer gave birth to a new form of music in the 1930s known as gypsy jazz or Django music. The genre calls on classical and jazz traditions and is deeply influenced by the musette bands of Paris.