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Music, Race and the Obama Era

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Monday, January 16, 2012

(flickr/victoriabernal)

To mark the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, this special encore edition focuses on African-American history and the ever-evolving role of race in America.

In the process of writing his new book Who's Afraid of Post-Blackness?, Touré asked dozens of thinkers, artists and musicians what it means to be black right now. He tells us what he learned. Plus: the remarkable story of Lee Anthony and True Soul Records -- the first black-owned record store in Little Rock, Arkansas. And: a song from soul singer Charles Bradley.

This is an encore edition of Soundcheck.

Art in a 'Post-Black' Era

In his book Who’s Afraid of Post-Blackness? the writer and TV host Touré explores the ever-evolving role of race in America. The book is part autobiography, part cultural analysis – and draws on interviews with more than 100 thinkers and artists, including Chuck D, Santigold, Kara Walker and Henry Louis Gates Jr. Touré joins us to discuss what it means to be black in America today.

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From the Left of Stax

If you were a soul and funk musician living in Little Rock, Arkansas, during the 1960s and ‘70s, there was one guy you needed to know: Lee Anthony. He opened Little Rock’s first black-owned record store, and later, launched a record label called True Soul Records. That label is the subject of a two-volume compilation of rare funk and soul songs called True Soul: Deep Sounds From the Left of Stax. Joining us to talk about the new release is Lee Anthony himself, along with Eothan Alapatt of Now Again records, which released the set.

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Charles Bradley: "Why Is It So Hard?"

We close today's show with a song that seems to be about one man's struggle with the American dream. New York funk and R&B singer Charles Bradley's life story is filled with poverty, misfortune, and unappreciated talent -- followed by an extraordinary turnaround. Last year he released his first full-length album, No Time for Dreaming, and joined us in the studio with his band - the Extraordinaires. We listen back to a performance of the song "Why Is It So Hard?"

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Gig Alert: Herman Dune

French indie-folk duo Herman Dune plays Joe's Pub tonight. Download the outfit's witty single "Tell Me Something I Don't Know."

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