Words & Music

Saturday: 10:00 am - 12:00 pm
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Marcie gathers listeners together for an intimate start to your Saturday. You’ll hear new releases and old favorites, plus revealing conversations with your favorite artists. Marcie dives deep, giving insights into the songs and the inspiration behind them. An Americana/singer-songwriter core mixes with soul, rock, and other spice to get your weekend going.

 

 

Marcie Finkelstein

As a volunteer, I’ve followed WMNF to 3 homes over 4 decades. After many years hosting a show, I still marvel at the intimacy of our time together. It doesn’t feel like broadcasting; we’re just hanging out, good friends sharing music and ideas, linked by an interest in people and issues beyond our own personal lives. And we don’t just play the music: We talk about the artists and the stories behind the songs, bringing them to life in a way that simply streaming music can’t do.

In my other life, I’m Professor Emerita at USF, but my favorite title is Best of the Bay from Creative Loafing for my WMNF show. You can reach me at [email protected]

 

SELECTED INTERVIEWS

Teddy Thompson | April 6, 2024

Growing up in England with two iconic folk-rock parents, you’d expect that the first musicTeddy Thompson ever loved was…country. He’s paid tribute to the genre twice, most recently with the release of My Love of Country. I spoke with Teddy about what it is that grabs him about these classic tunes; his approach to singing them; and the thrill of having current luminaries like Vince Gill sing harmony.

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Billy Prine | March 30, 2024

When John Prine died, his fans lost a favorite songwriter and performer. Billy Prine lost that plus a beloved brother. A musician himself, Billy is helping keep John’s legacy alive by performing his songs and telling the stories behind them. Billy shared with me the backstory to some of John’s most iconic songs and why he thinks they affect people so profoundly. You’ll also hear what made John a great human being and the best big brother.

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Trent Wagler (The Steel Wheels) | March 16, 2024

The Steel Wheels call their new release Sideways, which Trent Wagler says describes much of our growth. We make missteps and hit obstacles, but we learn from them. This sentiment, and the songs on the album, spring from hard-won lessons. They include mental health problems that Trent’s teenage daughter, like many of her cohort, suffered during the pandemic. In his song, Hero, Trent grapples with his limitations and evolving role as a parent.

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Jojo Garza (Los Lonely Boys) | March 2, 2024

Los Lonely Boys call their music Texican, a nod to the brothers’ Texas upbringing and Mexican roots. They coined the term in defiance of record executives who pressured them to label their sound. The band recently released the song, Dance With Me, and I spoke with Jojo Garza, writer and lead singer – who shows off his moves in the video. Jojo describes a childhood filled with music and talks about the almost telepathic communication among the brothers that creates magic on stage. He also shares the circumstances that led the band, at the height of its success, to take a three-year break.

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Betty Soo | February 10, 2024

James McMurtry and BettySoo made Rolling Stone and The Rachel Maddow Show last year when they found a unique way to protest Tennessee’s anti-drag laws. He donned a dress, she a suit, and they performed his song, Red Dress. It was a funny moment that sent a serious message. I spoke with BettySoo about that and the myriad ways we “other” people. As you’ll hear, her songs tap a deep well of empathy that lets listeners know they’re not alone.

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Dar Williams | February 3, 2024

It was October 2021, and I had just finished talking with Dar Williams about her new album, I’ll Meet You Here. I figured we were done, so I changed the subject for what I thought would be a moment. I told her I was watching Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial when I hea Rep. Jamie Raskin (the lead Impeachment Manager) say, “My friend, Dar Williams, says that ‘Sometimes the truth is like a second chance.'” It’s a line from Dar’s song, After All. And I had to ask, What’s it like to be part of the official record of a historic proceeding?

What I never anticipated was that Dar’s answer would touch deeply on the recent suicide of Raskin’s son, Tommy, and her own experience with clinical depression. She and Congressman Raskin have been friends since college, and his statement was as much a personal message as a plea to the country.

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Sarah Jarosz | January 27, 2024

With her new album, Polaroid Lovers, Sarah Jarosz shows a newfound confidence in herself and her art. We spoke about the record and her approach to songwriting. At 32, Sarah has already won 4 Grammys, but she remains refreshingly down-to earth and excited about creating and sharing her songs.

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John Moreland | January 20, 2024

When he wrote Gospel 10 years ago, John Moreland was a young man yearning to “set fear on fire and give dreaming a fair shot.” With his new album, Birds in the Ceiling, John shows a hard-won confidence in his ability to shape the life he wants and contentment with the result. The result is a gentler, more intimate sound. John says he’s learning to accept himself and to give up trying to control what he can’t control. Time off from touring also helped him decompress and find a renewed joy in performing.

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Amos Lee | January 6, 2024

It’s a lovely surprise when one of your favorite artists makes a tribute album to another favorite artist.  And Amos Lee has done just that with his new record, Honeysuckle Switches: The Songs of Lucinda Williams. Amos has been a fan since his teens, and I spoke with him about what makes Lucinda, as a person and a songwriter, so special. Amos talks about the humanity and empathy, as well as the artistry, in Lucinda’s work, and how she has served as his “spiritual guide.”

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Rissi Palmer | December 16, 2023

In 2007, Rissi Palmer became the first Black woman in 20 years to make the country charts. Three years later, she left music behind. But she’s back, and her EP, Still Here, is nominated for No Depression’s Best of 2023. She’s also the subject of a documentary, Rissi Palmer: Still Here, on PBS’ American Masters.

But more than her own story, Rissi wants to tell us about the women of color who preceded her, names I admit I’d never heard. Now thanks to her radio show, Color Me Country, we can get to know them and the Black roots of country music. I talked with Rissi about all of this, and it was a blast. Whatever obstacles she’s faced, they didn’t dim her energy or sense of humor.

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John Paul White | December 9, 2023

John Paul White recently re-recorded Lindsey Buckingham’s Big Love, giving the narrator a more vulnerable sound, more like John Paul himself. I spoke with him about his singular path, from the years before the Civil Wars to a less frenetic solo career, with a long stretch away from the business in between. With humor and honesty, John Paul reflects on his journey and the difficulty of a life with – and without – music.

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Hiss Golden Messenger | December 2, 2023

In his new album, Jump For Joy, Mike Taylor aka MC Taylor aka Hiss Golden Messenger, explores the struggles and rewards of a life in music and celebrates its uncertainties. He’s glad he still doesn’t know the secret to writing a great song. In fact, Mike loves the mystery of everything about creating, performing, and hearing music: how each listener interprets a song differently so that the most intimate work can have universal appeal; the palpable bond that forms among musicians when they play together; and how that extends into the audience. As you’ll hear, for Hiss Golden Messenger, music is a deeply spiritual experience.

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Joan Osborne | November 18, 2023

Joan Osborne wrote Nobody Owns You, the title song to her new album, as her daughter was about to leave for college. It’s a reminder to steer our own course and not relinquish control to others.

Joan shares her journey as artist and activist on Words & Music. We’ll hear about her decades-long relationship with Planned Parenthood and how her own refusal to be controlled helped spotlight the organization at a Lilith Fair in Texas (and got her banned from the venue). Joan says her aim is to use what talents she has to put something positive out into the world.

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David Dondero | October 21, 2023

From the opening line of Immersion Therapy, the title song to David Ponderer’s new album, I was hooked: “Nobody showed up to the social anxiety immersion therapy group meeting at the bowling alley.” It’s funny, but the voice is so plaintive and halting, it’s sad too. I talked with Dave about the (true) story behind the song which, though not about him, reveals a character not unlike him. Our conversation Saturday on Words & Music.

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Amanda Shires | September 23, 2023

Shortly after Amanda Shires and Bobbie Nelson recorded their album, Loving You, Bobbie died at age 91. She had overcome enormous obstacles to reclaim her career and pave the way for new generations of female artists. For Amanda, the loss cuts deep. She wants us to know Bobbie as more than the piano player in her brother Willie’s band.

Bobbie composed the title track as an instrumental. She had begun writing lyrics and asked Amanda to finish the song, something Amanda says she will do when she can listen to it without crying.

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Marty Stuart | September 9, 2023

Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives toured with Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman for the 50th anniversary of Sweetheart of the Rodeo. The album, and that experience, inspired Marty’s new record. Altitudes. Marty talks about the influence of the Byrds and his eclectic musical upbringing.

Marty’s songs expand the boundaries of country, but he’s also committed to preserving the genre’s rich history. We chat some about his involvement with Ken Burns’ Country Music series and his own Congress of Country Music.

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Miko Marks | August 19, 2023

After a promising start in the early 2000s, Miko Marks found that mainstream country wasn’t welcoming black women to the fold. As one record label told her, she was too “innovative” for Nashville. Disillusioned, Miko put her recording career behind her. Thankfully, she’s back – and she’s not holding back. As John Lewis urged, and as she sings in her song, Trouble, these days Miko is all about making “good trouble.”

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Tommy Prine | August 5, 2023

When I spoke with Tommy Prine last year, he was adjusting to a world without his father. With his new album, This Far South, Tommy has found his footing and is confidently forging his own path as a songwriter. I talked with him about the record and his new perspective. These days, Tommy laughs easily and says he feels most himself when he’s performing. Though he misses his Dad, and is proud to be a Prine, Tommy makes it clear he’s not walking in John Prine’s shadow – he’s walking beside it.

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Tim Brennan (Dropkick Murphys) | July 29, 2023

With working class roots, boundless energy, and a commitment to community, the Dropkick Murphys have always honored the spirit of Woody Guthrie. Their last two albums also honor his work, setting previously unpublished lyrics to music. I spoke with Tim Brennan about the new record, Okemah Rising. He talks about recording in Oklahoma and visiting Okemah; the uncanny timeliness of Woody’s words; and the band’s special bond with fans.

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Rodney Crowell | July 15, 2023

When I talked with Rodney Crowell in 2021, he was optimistic about the future. The release of his new album, The Chicago Sessions, finds him less so. He still believes the arc of the moral universe bends toward the good, but he worries it won’t bend in time for his children and grandchildren.

I spoke with Rodney about his concerns but also about the joy of making music. With Jeff Tweedy at the helm, recording The Chicago Sessions reminded Rodney of the excitement of his very first album.

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Mary Gauthier | May 13, 2023

Mary Gauthier borrows from MLK for the title of her new album, Dark Enough to See the Stars. Through childhood trauma and substance abuse, through our country’s divisiveness and assaults on civil liberties, Mary holds to the belief that the toughest times can bring growth and transformation.

She stands up to those who peddle fear and otherness, using her songs in service of justice and inclusiveness. Mary’s art also, she says, quite literally saved her.

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Iris DeMent | April 1, 2023

What Iris DeMent and I didn’t know while we were discussing her new song about this country’s gun mania was that another school shooting was unfolding. By the time we were done, seven were dead at a Nashville elementary school. The genesis of Iris’ song, Going Down to Sing in Texas, was her own unsettling experience with Texas gun laws.

Talking with Iris, I came to understand that, though she left her parents’ church, her determination to speak truth and serve others through her work is very much in keeping with their more religious path.

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Jenn Marie Earle | March 18, 2023

A special hour: my conversation with Jenn Marie Earle, widow of Justin Townes Earle. He died in 2020 of an accidental overdose after years of addiction, much of which played out on stage. I remember Justin at Crowbar in 2010. He gave a great show, but when he joked about a recent arrest, the crowd cheered.

So it caught my eye when Jenn Marie posted on his Facebook page: “I’m happy to hear about your experiences meeting Justin, but if it includes providing him drugs and getting wasted with him, I don’t want to hear it. I don’t want to see photos of him with his shirt off or mooning people…Many fans thought Justin’s behavior the last couple years of his life was entertaining; people egged on the erratic behavior and even brag about it. But the majority of true fans were concerned for his life.”

I asked Jenn Marie to talk with me about how fans can affect artists battling addiction. She shared insights into Justin and their life together; her struggle to raise their daughter and her determination to help others. We weave songs by and about Justin through the hour.

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Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams | March 4, 2023

The spirit of Levon Helm lives on in Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams. As members of the Levon Helm Band, they toured together and played the Midnight Rambles at his Woodstock home. They basked in Levon’s delight in music and musicians, his authenticity and connection to his roots. Larry produced Levon’s 3 Grammy-winning solo albums.

After Levon’s death, Larry & Teresa formed their own band and recently released Live at Levon’s!, recorded in the space they love best. I spoke with them about the new record, their years with Levon, and the magic of the Rambles.

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Kathy Mattea | January 28, 2023

Kathy Mattea is a treat to talk with! She’s a down-to earth, engaging, and uniquely talented Grammy winner whose deep connection to her West Virginia roots compels her to activism. I spoke with Kathy about her journey from Appalachia to Nashville and the circumstances that led to her album, Coal. The granddaughter of miners, Kathy has witnessed the devastation of mountaintop removal mining and uses her music and vast knowledge to speak on the issue.

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Amy Ray | December 17, 2022

Amy Ray was biking around Jackson Mississippi when she came across a Black church revival in a park. The jubilant singing inspired Amy to write Joy Train, a reminder to appreciate the good around us rather than “dwelling in the cage while life flies by.” Joy Train evokes Medgar Evers and Martin Luther King, who each faced insurmountable obstacles but never lost their ability to celebrate progress.

I spoke with Amy about the song and her new solo album, If It All Goes South.

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Rufus Wainwright | October 29, 2022

Rufus Wainwright’s new album owes a lot to family. His daughter inspired the name, Unfollow the Rules, and he wrote the song Peaceful Afternoon for his husband Jörn. The song celebrates the mundane rhythms of home life, and for Rufus, that ordinariness is extraordinary. He grew up in a fractured family, coming of age to find – between the devastation of AIDS and laws discriminating against same-sex couples – few models for creating his own. Here Rufus talks about celebrating the mundane and his path to a “peaceful afternoon.”

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Shemekia Copeland | September 17, 2022

Shemekia Copeland’s new album, Done Come Too Far, completes a trilogy that started with America’s Child and continued with Uncivil War. She didn’t set out to tackle social issues, but as the mother of a young Black male, the personal became political. She worries for him but sings for everyone who struggles for justice and a voice. Shemekia’s aim is to uplift and encourage – and have fun doing it. And a you’ll hear, she’s engaging and funny and doesn’t hold back.

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Patterson Hood | July 23, 2022

Before there was a Drive-By Truckers, Paterson Hood & Mike Cooley formed Adam’s House Cat in their hometown of Muscle Shoals. Despite years of hard work and some critical success, the band never made a go of it. Their struggles inspired the new Truckers album, Welcome 2 Club XIII, a poignant mix of humor and heartbreak. As Patterson sings in the title song, “Our glory days did kinda suck.”

I spoke with him about those early years, the toll they took and the rewards that eventually were reaped. Patterson also talks about the move that jump-started his career and turned his life around.

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Judy Collins | June 4, 2022

At 82, Judy Collins released Spellbound, her first album of all-original songs. The title song is a beautiful but unsparing account of a time in Hawaii where she recalls being years before, a troubled alcoholic in a tropical paradise. I spoke with Judy about this and another great sorrow, her son’s suicide.

What’s astonishing about Judy, in addition to her still-wondrous voice, is that she not only charted her own path to recovery, but used her experiences to help others. Instead of keeping secrets, she shared her family’s struggles, writing and speaking on behalf of those affected by suicide and substance abuse.

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Allison Moorer | March 26, 2022

I knew Allison Moorer and ex Steve Earle had a son, knew he’s profoundly autistic. Now, thanks to Allison and her album, Wish For You, I can start to know John Henry. Though he does not speak, he creates melodies, and Allison has turned them into song. She’s also written a beautiful, unsparing book about raising John Henry. After reading an excerpt in the New York Times, attending a virtual book talk, and listening to the album, I’m enormously grateful to have been able to speak with her.

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Lucinda Williams | March 19, 2022

2020 started with the release of Lucinda Williams’ latest album, Good Souls Better Angels; it ended with her stroke. The album includes Big Black Train, a reference to depression and the first song co-written with her husband, Tom Overby. Lucinda addresses her decision to write about real-life issues, both personal and political, and her frustration that her music gets labeled as dark. The upside, she says, is the enjoyment she gets pushing people’s buttons.

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Hayes Carll | December 11, 2021

Hayes Carll’s new album includes Help Me Remember, a deeply moving song told from the perspective of someone struggling with Alzheimer’s. As his memory fades, he asks others to remind him who he was, seeking reassurance that he was an honorable man. I spoke with Hayes about his grandfather who died of Alzheimer’s, but also more generally; the questions the narrator asks are those Haye asks himself as he evaluates his own life.

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John Paul White | October 30, 2021

When John Prine died, John Paul White lost a mentor and dear friend; they’d shared a stage and had just booked their next tour. On a new tribute album, Broken Hearts and Dirty Windows Vol. 2, John Paul sings a stirring version of Prine’s iconic Sam Stone. I spoke with John Paul about their friendship and the song.

John Paul also talks about making his way back to music after the breakup of The Civil Wars. It took several years and some soul-searching, but in the end came down to what motivates many artists: He writes and shares his songs with us because it’s “what I’m supposed to do.”

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Dar Williams | October 9, 2021

We  talk about Dar’s new album, I’ll Meet You Here. She shares the challenge of navigating changes in the music industry and listeners’ tastes, and finding new creative outlets.

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James McMurtry | September 18, 2021

I spoke with James about his new song, Canola Fields, in which the sight of the bright yellow crop evokes a flood of memories from decades past. James shares the sweet and the bitter that inevitably come with age: the wisdom and long-lasting friendships as well as the inevitable regrets. Canola Fields showcases James’ exquisite eye for detail, describing places and people we otherwise might never notice. He says he can still rock out and still draw a young audience, though he feels his age in other ways.

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Steve Earle | July 21, 2020

In 2010, an explosion at Upper Big Branch mine killed 29 and revealed safety violations so egregious, the CEO went to prison. The event inspired a play, Coal Country, its script drawn from interviews with survivors and the families of the dead. Steve Earle conducted many of those interviews. His songs anchor the play and a new album, Ghosts of West Virginia.

The project satisfied his longstanding desire to write an album from the perspective of people who don’t share his politics. Steve concluded that we all have much in common, but those in power have a vested interest in fostering divisions.

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Todd Snider | June 26, 2021

Marcie moves to a new day and time and shares a conversation with WMNF favorite, Todd Snider. Join Marcie every Saturday from 10AM to Noon.

Todd’s new album captures his unique ability to mix humor and vulnerability. We see this beautifully in the song, Handsome John, Todd’s tribute to his hero/mentor/surrogate father/friend, John Prine. Marcie spoke with Todd about his complicated personal journey and the gift of John’s guidance and love.

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Raul Malo (The Mavericks) | September 15, 2020

¡Buenos días! As part of National Hispanic Heritage Month, Marcie celebrated with Raul Malo on Words & Music. The Mavericks just released their first all-Spanish album, a mix of originals and classics and – as with any Mavericks record – genres.

Raul talks about his commitment to diversity in music and beyond. The son of Cuban exiles, Raul describes how his 2017 trip to explore his musical roots – documented in the PBS special Havana Time Machine – changed his life and the lives of artists he met there.

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Rachael Price (Lake Street Dive)  | March 23, 2021

Lake Street Dive frontwoman Rachael Price joins me for a conversation on Words & Music. The band has a new album, and we’ll hear Rachael’s song, Nobody’s Stopping You Now. Rachael wrote the song after finding journals she kept as a teen, filled with insecurities. She tenderly embraces that girl and admits in our conversation that she’s also singing to herself today.

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Dave Alvin | January 5, 2021

Dave Alvin shares his new record, From an Old Guitar: Rare and Unreleased Recordings. Dave may be an intense guitar player, but he’s also friendly and good-natured, and great fun to chat with.

Dave talks about studying poetry in college, discovering his own voice after writing for brother Phil, and the joy of making music with friends. He shares his approach to re-interpreting Dylan’s “Highway 61 Revisited” along with insights into Dylan’s songwriting process, gleaned from their time touring and recording together.

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Rosanne Cash | November 10, 2020

Rosanne Cash’s new song, Crawl Into the Promised Land, captures her fear and anger at the state of our nation. But there’s also optimism, an abiding belief that better days are ahead. Rosanne’s husband, John Leventhal, wrote the music and her son Jakob Leventhal sings backup and shot the accompanying video. Rosanne talks about family, friends, and a life in music.”

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Ani DiFranco | March 30, 2021

As part of WMNF’s celebration of Women’s History Month, I spoke with the incomparable Ani DiFranco. Ani left home at 16 to make her own way, writing music that spoke to the marginalized. Her LGBTQ fans were so devoted, that when she chose to marry, many felt betrayed. Ani feels for them, just as she works to understand those whose politics differ from hers – a resolve she explores in her new album, Revolutionary Love.

In a deep and revealing conversation, Ani shares her efforts to stay true to herself, and find peace, in the midst of others’ expectations and judgments. She talks about her decision at 19 to start her own record label, Righteous Babe, which flourishes 30 years later. We’ll hear a song from the new record and an older tune in which she comes to terms with choices her parents made.

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Elizabeth Cook | October 13, 2020

Just as her career was taking off, Elizabeth Cook suffered a series of losses: Her brother, parents, and mother- and father-in-law died; the family farm burned; her marriage ended. Elizabeth’s depression was misconstrued as evidence of substance abuse. An upcoming tour was cancelled, and she was forced into rehab.

But Elizabeth spun her pain and newfound strength into an album, Aftermath, and she’s my guest on the next Tuesday Morning Show. You’ll find she pulls no punches – in song or conversation.”

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Kathleen Edwards | October 13, 2020

In 2014, Kathleen Edwards left music and went home to Ottawa to open a coffee shop called Quitters. She was clinically depressed, felt stalled in her career, and had ended a very public relationship with Justin Vernon (aka Bon Iver).

But she’s back with a new album, and on tomorrow’s Tuesday Morning Show, Kathleen talks candidly about all of this and how she found her way back to music – and herself.

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Hosted by
Marcie Finkelstein

As a volunteer, I've followed WMNF to 3 homes over 4 decades. After many years hosting a show, I still marvel at the intimacy of our time together. It doesn’t feel like broadcasting; we’re just hanging out, good friends sharing music and ideas, linked by an interest in people and issues beyond our own personal lives. And we don’t just play the music: We talk about the artists and the stories behind the songs, bringing them to life in a way that simply streaming music can’t do.

In my other life, I’m Professor Emerita at USF, but my favorite title is Best of the Bay from Creative Loafing for my WMNF show. You can reach me at [email protected].

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