American Public Media Collaborates with Best-Selling Author James McBride

Contact: Connie Molby
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cmolby@americanpublicmedia.org
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American Public Media Collaborates with Best-Selling Author James McBride

(Los Angeles) February 16, 2005 — Best-selling African American author and musician James McBride is collaborating with American Public Media and its new national program, Weekend America, to pilot a new urban variety public radio program named The Corner. The program will be staged and recorded on February 22 in New York.

"This is an outstanding opportunity for American Public Media to partner with a triple-threat creative genius," said Executive Producer Jim Russell. "James McBride is a gifted author, composer and musician — with a unique view of the city where he grew up and the people who populated it."

The program is about five fictional characters who hang out at a Brooklyn corner store all day and pontificate about life. They include the storeís owner, Miss Woo; the grumpy black old man, Bone; his best friend, Dub; the Big Chain Store clerk, Mrs. Frenchie; and the store clerk, Puerto Rico. A variety of wild and interesting urban visitors will pass through the corner, including authors, entertainers, comedians, musicians, bums and anyone else who has something to say because, as McBride says, the corner is ìwhere everybody gets to solo. Everybody gets their 16 bars.î The pilot episode includes vignettes such as ìPhoto Opportunity,î where Vice President Dick Cheney plans a visit to the ghetto, a re-enactment of the movie Titanic with a ghetto cast, and the moving story of Little Kevin, a young boy who befriends an elderly, reclusive white man in the neighborhood.

The program is narrated by McBride, who begins by remembering his childhood:

"When I was a boy growing up in New York, there was a place in my neighborhood where folks gathered to talk, squawk, gossip and scheme. They sipped triple sweet lemonade and slipped into the basement for mason jars of something stronger. When the joy juice got ’em loose, they hollered out tall tales and swapped lies. It was a place where you could let your hair down, or even take it off all together if you wanted, and laugh till you cried or your troubles disappeared. It was a grocery store that doubled as a barber shop, shine stand and part-time church; where penny candy cost a nickel, cigarettes cost a dime. The advice was free. We called it The Corner.î

"My mother used to say that if you stood on that corner and closed your eyes you could hear the whole world passing by."

McBride and the acting/singing troupe will record the pilots in New York City on February 22, as segments to be premiered on APM’s new national Saturday program, Weekend America. In the program, listeners will hear humorous vignettes, doo-wop music and swinging jazz, sung by the show’s five main characters, accompanied by some of New York’s finest jazz players. American Public Media will also use the pilot segments as demonstrations of the full-length weekly urban variety program it would like to produce with McBride, assuming that funding can be secured.

James McBride’s The Color of Water was on the New York Times bestseller list for more than two years. It has sold more than 1.8 million copies in the United States alone. His second book, Miracle at St. Anna, is a historical novel. He is a former staff writer for the Boston Globe, People and The Washington Post. In addition to his books, McBride has written songs for the likes of Anita Baker, Grover Washington Jr., and received several awards for his work in musical theater composition, including The Stephen Sondheim Award and the ASCAP Richard Rodgers Horizons Award.

James McBride is a native New Yorker. He studied composition at The Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Ohio and received a masters degree in Journalism from Columbia University in New York at age 22.

Executive Producer of The Corner is Jim Russell. Managing producer is Laurie Selik. Christine Tschida is consulting producer and Dan Rowles is radio line producer/director.

General manager of the pilot is Donna Trinkoff. Creator, head writer, composer and host is James McBride. Additional writing by Ed Shockley. Music director is Lafayette Harris. Choral director and arranger is Cathy Elliott. Casting by Stephanie Klapper. Sound engineer is Jonathan Duckett. Production coordinator is Samantha Grabler.

Actors include Kent C. Jackman, Pearl Sun, Kimberly Hébert-Gregory, Michael Mandell and Clarke Thorell. Musicians include: Damon Due White (drums), Konrad Adderly (bass), William (Bill) Easley (reeds), Howard Johnson (multi-instrumentalist) and Keith Robinson (guitar).

Funding for Weekend America is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and Minnesota Public Radio. Station Partners include WBUR, Boston; WCPN, Cleveland; KPCC, Los Angeles; WMFE, Orlando; KUOW, Seattle and KNOW, St. Paul.

American Public Media(tm) is the nation’s second-biggest producer of public radio programs, reaching 13.5 million listeners nationwide each week. National programs include A Prairie Home Companion®, Saint Paul Sunday®, Marketplace®, Sound Money®, The Splendid Table®, Being™ and special reports produced by its national documentary unit, American RadioWorks®. American Public Media is the national production and distribution division of Minnesota Public Radio®. Minnesota Public Radio, along with its sister company Southern California Public Radio, belongs to a larger family of companies within American Public Media Group, a national nonprofit organization whose purpose is to develop resources, services and systems to support public media for public service. A complete list of stations, programs and additional services can be obtained at www.americanpublicmedia.us.