Arts & Culture | St. Louis Public Radio

Arts & Culture

Obituary: Beloved St. Louis Stage Veteran Linda Kennedy Dies At 68

17 hours ago
Linda Kennedy in 2013
File photo | Erin Williams

Linda Alton Randall Kennedy, a staple of the St. Louis theater scene for more than four decades, passed away this morning (Friday, August 16) after a battle with cancer.

Her son Terell Randall Sr. confirmed her passing via Facebook. She was 68.

“With a heavy heart, I am sorry to have to say that my mother Linda Kennedy now has her wings,” Randall said.

She was perhaps best known as an actress but contributed to the St. Louis theater scene in nearly every capacity – including director, consultant, coach, stage manager and even costume designer.

On Chess: St. Louis' Summer Of Chess

Aug 15, 2019
Grandmaster Maxime Vachier-Lagrave in conversation with Grandmaster Maurice Ashley. Vachier-Lagrave had a strong showing at the Grand Chess Tour's fourth leg, the St. Louis Rapid and Blitz in August 2019.
Austin Fuller | St. Louis Chess Club

The summer season may be nearing a close, but the “Summer of Chess” at the St. Louis Chess Club is in full force. For the next three weeks, the leading chess grandmasters from across the world will gather in the chess capital of the U.S. to battle it out in different formats over the 64 squares.

The hectic month of August kicked off with the Grand Chess Tour’s fourth leg, the St. Louis Rapid and Blitz. This tournament has become a staple on the chess calendar and attracts the top players who are competing in the tour as well as three wildcards. 

"Where The Pavement Ends" sheds light on the decline of the city of Kinloch and how the roadblock contributed to the fall of the city and the killing of Michael Brown Jr.
Jane Gillooly

As a child, filmmaker and artist Jane Gillooly was oblivious to the fact that Ferguson was an all-white town during the Jim Crow era. Gillooly did not realize this until the day she went home with her babysitter. 

Her sitter lived in Kinloch — Missouri's first incorporated black city. It borders Ferguson. 

At the age of 5, her parents had yet to discuss why blacks and whites were segregated, but she recalls asking the sitter, 'Why does everyone look the same in Kinloch?' and her babysitter said, 'Because all these people are Negroes.'"

Seema Kasthuri and Todd Mosby rehearse for the debut show of World Fusion Ensemble, a quartet of musicians who had relationships with the late Ustad Imrat Khan, guru of classical Indian music. [8/14/19]
Jeremy D. Goodwin | St. Louis Public Radio

When internationally renowned sitar master Ustad Imrat Khan died in St. Louis in November 2018, he left behind musical disciples who are determined to carry on the guru’s legacy. 

Four musicians who’ve applied Khan’s teachings to different styles of music from around the world will perform in a new ensemble Saturday at First Congregational Church of Webster Groves

Bandleader Todd Mosby steers the group into an innovative blend of eastern and western musical forms — a style so unusual, he needed to invent an instrument to play it.

Local music artist Tonina Saputo joined St. Louis on the Air to talk about her musical journey locally and beyond.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Tonina Saputo is among the rising names in the local music scene, but her reach is far and wide. The St. Louis-raised musician has made the world her stage, performing throughout Europe and singing in both English and Spanish. Former President Barack Obama is a fan himself and placed her song “Historia De un Amor” on his best-of-the-year roundup. 

But for Saputo, it's her album that dropped in May that feels like the truest expression of herself as a musician. “St. Lost” was inspired by her time away from the Gateway City and represents a split from the producer-manager who gave her a big break.

Playwright Shannon Geier (at left) is headlining the 2019 St. Lou Fringe Festival with her play "Check In." Matthew Kerns is the executive director of the festival.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

To describe the St. Lou Fringe Festival as a theater event is something of a misnomer. There are plenty of actors, playwrights and other theater professsionals involved in the annual six-day-long extravaganza that gets underway this Tuesday. But there are also poets, dancers, performance artists, sculptors, burlesque performers and improv acts.

This year’s offerings also run the gamut with pieces by established and experienced playwrights as well as emerging artists and previously untested work. That’s by design, according to organizer Matthew Kerns.

“The idea of a fringe festival is that it is uncensored and unjuried,” the executive director of the festival told St. Louis on the Air host Sarah Fenske on Monday’s show. “We offer opportunity where opportunity is not given anywhere else in this region. So if you have a piece of work that you are passionate about that is very experimental, we are the place for that to be done.”

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for Sunday, August 11, 2019, presents “The Career of Kenny Burrell.”  Guitarist Kenny Burrell is one of the many jazz musicians who came out of Detroit in the late 1940’d to mid 1950’s.  Born in 1931, he began playing guitar by age 12, and took music theory and classical guitar lessons.  Influenced by Charlie Christian, Oscar Moore and mainly Django Reinhardt, Burrell made his first recordings with Dizzy Gillespie while he was a student at Wayne State University in 1951.  He moved to New York in 1956 and soon became a stalwart for the Blue Note label.  Burrell was al


Last week, St. Louis attorney Michael Kahn won over a federal jury in a case looking at whether the Katy Perry song "Dark Horse" infringed on the copyright of a 2009 rap song “Joyful Noise” by St. Louis artist Marcus Gray, who is known as Flame. The jury decided that Katy Perry and Capitol Records must pay Gray $2.78 million in damages.

“There’s an old joke [that] when you say, ‘This is not about money, it’s about principle,’ it’s really about money,” said Kahn. “But for our clients, it was really about principle. They almost didn’t care about the money part of it. They felt that they’d been mistreated, and they wanted their day in court.”

Francis Lam is the host of The Splendid Table.
Melanie Dunea

As the host of "The Splendid Table," a cookbook editor and food journalist, Francis Lam has explored cuisines from all around the world. That may be one reason he’s not at all disconcerted by St. Louis’ method of slicing bagels as if they were loaves of bread.

“They’re like bagel chips, but not toasted,” he said, laughing, during a conversation with St. Louis on the Air that aired Thursday. “I get it!”

And when you put it that way, really, wasn’t the whole “St. Louis-style" bagel controversy earlier this year just a bit overblown? Lam, a New Jersey native who lives in New York City, certainly thinks so.

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave holding his trophy after he won the Paris Rapid and Blitz Tournament in 2019.
Lennart Ootes | St. Louis Chess Club

Chess players can picture a tournament victory 1,000 times in their head. One can prepare, have a clear idea of what you want to accomplish, and show up to the event ready as you can possibly be.

Once the first move is played, however, those plans often get thrown out the window. 

Artist and wellness advocate Dail Chambers and daughter. [8/8/19]
Jeremy D. Goodwin | St. Louis Public Radio

Five years ago, Kevin and Danielle McCoy were making art that wasn’t particularly political.

“We made a lot of safe work,” Kevin McCoy said, “but it didn’t have a lot of meaning. It didn’t get to the crux of the issues.”

Then white Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown Jr., an unarmed, 18-year-old black man. Brown's death sparked weeks of protests in Ferguson, unrest that reverberated in the local arts community. Black artists formed new alliances and reached new platforms, but also bumped up against enduring divides over race in this community.

(L-R) Gabriela Ramirez-Arellano, Valeria Rodriguez and Lindsay Newton joined Wednesday's "St. Louis on the Air."
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis has the smallest Latino community of the nation's 25 largest metro areas — the only one that's less than 5% Latino. So how do local Latinos deal with being not just a minority, but one that’s dwarfed in size by other communities? And how do they straddle the Spanish-speaking worlds of their parents and grandparents in addition to life in the Midwest? 

On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske delved into ways that St. Louis’ Latino community continues to grow and influence the city – artistically and otherwise.

Joining the program were Gabriela Ramirez-Arellano, business counselor at the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in St. Louis and co-host of the bilingual Auténtico Podcast, and Valeria Rodriguez, a Dominican-American multidisciplinary artist and member of the Latinx Arts Network – a collective of local artists. 

Vanilla, Chocolate, Pink and Yellow Conchas; cookies.
Alexis Moore | St. Louis Public Radio

For an hour and a half every Wednesday, the International Institute of St. Louis transforms into a restaurant. By partnering with a rotating list of local immigrant caterers, the institute continues its legacy of supporting immigrant and refugee populations. 

On July 24, La Fuente, a Mexican food caterer, was at the helm, featuring staples such as tamales and pan dulce. Common wisdom says come early, and it was clear why: One line formed, and then another, until much was sold out. 

Aug. 6 2019 Tylea Wilson (at left), poet AnnaLise Cason, and Susan Colangelo, St. Louis Story Stitchers CEO.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Young adults throughout the St. Louis area make up the St. Louis Story Stitchers artists collective. They aim to showcase the region’s culture through performance art, and they work to curb gun violence, which many members have grown up with.

Tylea Wilson is a storyteller with the group, and she regularly performs her poem, “Guardian Angel,” about a friend who was shot and killed.

Kansas City

Aug 4, 2019
Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for August 4, 2019 will present “Kansas City.”  The music of Kansas City was side open and inventive in the late 1920’s, the 1930’s and early 1940’s.  The arrival of the Count  Basie Orchestra in New York in 1936 revived an increasingly moribund swing era.  The show will present the George E.

An exhibition entitled "Pop America-1965-1975” at the Nasher Museum of Art on the Duke University campus in Durham, North Carolina opened my eyes to the global impact pop art made on the art world.

On Chess: The Future Of Chess Entertainment

Aug 1, 2019
Jennifer Shahade and Yasser Seirewan
Austin Fuller | St. Louis Chess Club

After spending three weeks as the grandmaster-in-residence at the St. Louis Chess Club, I have come to the realization that the future of chess, as an entertainment vessel, lies in the online, livestream medium.

The Lens: Over the moon for 'Moon'

Jul 31, 2019

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 31, 2009 - Science-fiction movies are typically big-name/big-studio/big-budget affairs, but “Moon” is an independent first feature film by industry veteran Duncan Jones. It recalls “Gattaca” (1997) in its hard questions about the uses of technology, the ethics of corporations and nation-states – and the meaning of being human.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 16 2012 - St. Louis County Library may demolish eight of its 20 existing county branches as part of the system’s 10-year facilities master plan. But before it could do that -- and then rebuild or rennovate -- voters would have to approve a $108 million bond issue Nov. 6.

Protester Edward Crawford throws a tear gas cannister in Ferguson in August 2014. This photo is part of the "In Focus: St. Louis Post-Dispatch Photographs" exhibit at the Missouri History Museum.
Robert Cohen | St. Louis Post-Dispatch

This Saturday, the Missouri History Museum opens two new exhibits: “Pulitzer Prize Photographs” and “In Focus: St. Louis Post-Dispatch Photographs.” The first is a traveling exhibit from the Newseum in Washington, displaying the most comprehensive collection of Pulitzer-winning photos ever assembled. The second provides a companion exhibit that shows off the work of local photojournalists.

On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske talked with Jody Sowell, director of exhibitions and research for the Missouri Historical Society, and Robert Cohen, a staff photographer for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, about what the new shows entail. 

Sahara Sista SOLS (at left) served as one of the coaches of St. Louis' team, which includes recent high school graduates Zack Lesmeister (center) and Keana Fox as well as four other teens.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

A group of local teens made St. Louis proud earlier this month when they earned first place at the 2019 Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam Festival in Las Vegas.

Selected through a months-long process under the umbrella of local nonprofit organization UrbArts, the six budding poets won the competition July 20. The festival draws about 500 young poets, their mentors, and leading artists and cultural workers each year for arts education, artistic expression and civic engagement.

On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske talked with two members of the award-winning team: Zack Lesmeister, who is a graduate of Marquette High School, a freshman at Emerson College and a former St. Louis youth poet laureate, and Keana Fox, a graduate of Collinsville High School who is headed to Indiana University in Indianapolis this fall. Also participating in the discussion was one of the team’s coaches, Sahara Sista SOLS.

In August 1992, Monsignor Joseph R. Schwaegel of St. Peter's Cathedral in Belleville sang the National Anthem before the Cardinals game.
Belleville News-Democrat

Catholic church leaders in the Belleville Diocese promoted a priest they knew as a danger to children until he was in charge of their largest parish and its grade school, where he is accused of sexually abusing students, according to a civil suit filed earlier this month.

Joseph Schwaegel, who was first accused of child sexual abuse in a 1999 lawsuit, has been named in a new complaint filed against the diocese July 19 in St. Clair County Circuit Court.

(July 29, 2019) Sarah Fenske talked about her new role as the host of "St. Louis on the Air" on Monday's program.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Sarah Fenske is among the notable media leaders of St. Louis. She’s served as the editor in chief of the Riverfront Times for the past four years, reporting on various topics such as breaking news, business, arts and culture. Starting Tuesday, she’ll be heard on the airwaves as the new official host of St. Louis on the Air

Having passionately worked in newspapers most of her career, she didn’t expect to shift gears and media platforms so swiftly and quickly. 

“Being in newspapers for 20 years, I had seen a lot and done a lot. And I think, inside, my soul must have been ready for a change – and I didn't even realize it until I saw this particular job posting,” she told St. Louis Public Radio’s Jonathan Ahl on Monday’s program. 

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for July 28, 2019, will present “The Keys and Strings Hour Plus New Music.”  The quieter side of jazz will present duos, trios and quartets featuring Count Basie, Jimmy Smith & Kenny Burrell, Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans, Pat Metheny & Charlie Haden, Hank Jones and Milt Jackson.  The new music portion of the show will have unknown Tadd Dameron compositions by Paul Combs, vocalists Rosanna Eckert and Judy Wexler, Eric Alexander, Luke Gillespie, a Bach prelude played by Keith Jarrett, Matt Olson, Eric Skov, Rich Halley, Xavier LeCouturier, Marlene Rosenberg and t

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 31, 2012 - By last winter, Larry Mabrey knew that Avalon Theatre, the company he co-founded in 2005 with his partner, Erin Kelley, was nearing the end of its run. The company’s lease was almost up, and he and Kelley couldn’t afford to lease another space.

There was just one problem: What were they going to do with all of their stuff?

Styling by Joy Wiedner of Sauce Magazine.
Ashley Gieseking | Sauce Magazine

St. Louis on the Air’s latest Sound Bites segment with Sauce Magazine explored how salads are indeed culinary staples that can withstand the vegan trends of 2019 and beyond. 

On Friday’s program, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jeremy D. Goodwin talked about how the magazine compiled its list of the 12 best salads foodies should try in the St. Louis area with Sauce’s art director, Meera Nagarajan, and Kevin Willmann, chef and owner of Farmhaus Restaurant

“Research like this tends to be fun in the beginning because like, we’ve done a pizza story for example [and] you feel pretty bad after doing research for a full-on pizza story, but for the salad story you feel super healthy – like a beacon of health,” Nagarajan said. 

Alana Marie's grandfather settled in Kinloch in 1948, and the family lived there until 1988. In this mid-1970s photo, her uncle, pictured in a white T-shirt, kneels on the sidewalk near the left side.
Provided | Alana Marie

When Alana Marie was growing up in Hazelwood, she listened to stories of her father’s happy childhood in nearby Kinloch during the 1970s and '80s. 

By the time she was born in 1990, Kinloch had deteriorated. Now, the African American city that formerly boasted thousands of residents is home to just a few hundred.  

Marie’s curiosity about the family’s roots drove her to make a documentary about the once-vibrant city. Its demise came after schools were desegregated in the 1970s and the Kinloch school system closed.

Awonder Liang (left), Carissa Yip (middle) and Alex Shabalov (right) prevailed at the U.S. Chess Championship tournament in St. Louis in July 2019.
Austin Fuller | US Chess Club

Being the tournament favorite is never easy. You have a target on your back, and every other participant is gunning for you. There are times that the top seed simply dominates the field without any hiccups, but it is by far the exception rather than the rule.

This certainly held true at the U.S. Junior, U.S. Girls’ Junior, and U.S. Senior Championships held at the St. Louis Chess Club and Scholastic Center that ended on July 20. Grandmaster Awonder Liang won the U.S. Junior Championship, his third in a row, in a tense playoff over GM Nicolas Checa. 

A group of summertime visitors take a break from swimming in the Meramec River to pose for a photo. The area now home to Castlewood State Park was once a bustling summer resort destination in the early 1900s.
Castlewood State Park

If you look closely, you’ll notice something odd tucked into the hills of Castlewood State Park: crumbling concrete ruins.

Listener Joel Verhagen had an inkling that the area might have an interesting past, so he decided to ask our Curious Louis series: What was Castlewood State Park before it was a park?

That’s how the two of us end up hiking along a gravel path at Castlewood on a blazing hot afternoon. We're making our way along the bluff overlooking the Meramec River when we spot something hidden in plain sight — a moss-covered staircase to nowhere.

St. Louis-based conductor and composer Darwin Aquino joined Tuesday's talk show.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

When Darwin Aquino was a young boy growing up in the Dominican Republic, his father directed him to choose one instrument to learn to play. Aquino opted for the violin and, with that early decision, took his first steps along a musical journey that would eventually lead him to St. Louis.

Along the way, his musical accomplishments have expanded beyond his skills as a violinist. Aquino is now a conductor and a composer, with his current roles including positions at both Washington University and the University of Missouri-St. Louis. He was recently named the musical director of Gateway Festival Orchestra, which is partway through its 2019 season.

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, Aquino talked with St. Louis Public Radio’s Jeremy D. Goodwin about his local musical endeavors and compositions.