Arts & Culture

KCUR’s Arts & Culture Desk covers arts news from music to visual art to dance and theater, with a focus on Kansas and Missouri.

Our reporters explore the behind-the-scene stories about newsmakers and emerging artists. We also take a look at the intersections of arts and technology, science and creativity, and present profiles of creative people. 

For the past several months, the Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre has been gearing up for a script-in-hand reading of a new play called Whitehorse. The journey a play makes before it reaches a staged production can be a long one, so for a young playwright (Jakob Holder) and a young theatre company, a reading can present a real opportunity.

A campaign is underway to induct Rockabilly Queen Wanda Jackson into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Here, Jackson shares her thoughts about it.

Kansas City, MO – A campaign is underway to induct Rockabilly Queen Wanda Jackson into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Here, Jackson shares her thoughts about it.

photo: Laura Spencer/KCUR

Artist Wilbur Niewald, professor emeritus of painting at the Kansas City Art Institute, began his year-long Guggenheim Fellowship on May 1.

photo: Coterie Theatre

A new production at the Coterie Theatre brings the story of Ferdinand the Bull to the stage in a bilingual Flamenco-flavored musical.

A new play and a documentary examine women's body images.

Stacey Tolbert's play Not My Size will be performed this Thursday and Friday (April 20-21) at the Creative Minds Community Art Center at 3109 Troost.

Kansas City, MO – Passover celebrates the journey of the Jewish people out of slavery in Egypt. A special text called The Haggadah organizes the Seder meal through rituals such as dipping parsley in salt water to symbolize the tears of suffering. The evening progresses through prayers and song and ends with the celebration of freedom. Laura Ziegler visited the home of John and Debbie Starr -- who invited family and friends for their Seder -- and prepared this audio postcard.

Arts Roundup, April 14

Apr 14, 2006

This week, Archie Scott Gobber: Ready or Not is the inaugural exhibit in the Review Studios exhibit space, a local children's boutique presents a rock and roll concert at the RecordBar for parents and their kids, and a show at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art combines popular music and car culture.

Kansas City filmmaker Glenn Stewart talks about her work, Riffs: A Kansas City Jazz Coda. The film was screened as part of this year's 10th annual Kansas City Filmmakers Jubilee.

Kansas City based musician Shane Borth plays a number of instruments, but his primary ones are violin and viola (he's a violist for the Des Moines Symphony). This weekend, Borth will collaborate with the ensemble of artists called Quixotic Performance Fusion in an improvisational piece, and here, gives a sample.

Photo: Dan White

Dan White has documented the jazz scene in Kansas City for more than two decades. A new exhibit in the Changing Gallery at the American Jazz Museum displays 50 of White's black and white photographs, along with anecdotes from interviews.

Vocalist Myra Taylor is a veteran of the original Kansas City swing sound and started out singing and dancing in the early 1930s on 18th and Vine. Throughout her long career, she's shared the stage with Jay McShann, Sarah Vaughan, Nat "King" Cole, and many others. Taylor continues to perform in her hometown often as part of the quartet known as the Wild Women of Kansas City. Myra Taylor turns 89 on Friday, February 24.

Kansas City, MO – Igor and Karina Papikian are both of Armenian and Russian descent. When they were forced to leave their home in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, in 1990 they weren't accepted in either Armenia or Russia. So, they decided to come to the United States. They ended up in Kansas City a place they'd only read about in a Theodore Dreiser novel. Linda Sher spent an evening with the Papikians and their daughter Ana, to learn about their journey, their life and their cooking.

Remembering Milt Abel

Feb 12, 2006
Photo: Marr Sound Archives

Jazz bassist and vocalist Milt Abel - part of Kansas City's jazz scene for five decades - died on February 3, 2006 after a long illness. Abel grew up in Philadelphia, where he learned to play the stand-up bass, baritone horn, and trombone as a teenager.

Kansas City, MO – KCUR?s Laura Spencer talked to some of the musicans he played with over the years in Kansas City and others who say his musicial talent will not be forgotten.

Painter Anthony Ramos has shows at the American Jazz Museum and the Bruce R Watkins Cultural Center. He was in Kansas City recently for a series of talks around the city and spoke to KC Currents host Delores Jones.

Musician and artist Loren Pickford is a veteran of jazz scenes in Los Angeles, Boston, and Paris. Pickford lived in New Orleans from 1990 to 2005, and here shares the story of his first day in the Big Easy.

Kansas City, MO – Pickford and his wife, Sheila, relocated from New Orleans to Kansas City, Missouri after Hurricane Katrina.

Every Monday night, a jam session at the Blue Room draws a rambunctious crowd of genuine music-lovers, many of whom attend with religious devotion.

Cultural Convention and Visitors Bureau President Anita Dixon says her vision of 12th Street, from the Paseo to Brooklyn, is as an enclave for jazz artists.

T. Michael Stanley (913) 341-7229

Original airdate: November 2006. Versatile singer Ida McBeth has been serving up jazz, blues, soul and funk to Kansas City audiences for 30 years.

A Nutcracker Debut

Dec 20, 2005
Photography by Steve Wilson

Earlier this year, the Kansas City Ballet School offered a weekly ballet class to twenty Latina girls at Gladstone and Primitivo Garcia elementary schools. And five of those girls were cast in this year's production of The Nutcracker, including 5th grader Christina Sayed who's a lead angel.

Molotov is a Mexican metal/hip-hop band formed in 1995. Their music is in a mixture of Spanish and English, rapped by Tito Fuentes.

Kansas City, MO – One of Mexico?s most notorious rock bands have released Con Todo Respeto ? with all due respect - which just won a Latin Grammy for best rock album. The album is tribute to bands like the Beastie Boys and the Clash. They also include a version of Gil Scott Heron?s The Revolution will not be Televised ? which they say applies to Mexico as well as the US.

The face of jazz music on KCUR will change after this weekend. The long running program Just Jazz will end.

Kansas City, MO – The face of jazz music on KCUR will change after this weekend. The long running program Just Jazz will end. Laura Ziegler has this look back at the show and the hosts who made it unique.

Years before the first of her 76 appearances on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson - years before there was a Tonight Show with Johnny Carson - vocalist Marilyn Maye was learning the art of putting across a song from someone she heard mostly on the radio: Frank Sinatra.

A play based on interviews with Kansas Citians of many diverse traditions.

Kansas City, MO – Sunday marks the four-year anniversary of the September eleventh terrorist attacks. The attacks impacted people throughout the country, sometimes bringing out cultural divisions that already existed between communities. As part of the Mosaic Life Stories project, writer Donna Ziegenhorn interviewed Kansas Citians of different backgrounds to write ?The Hindu and the Cowboy.?

Kansas City Latin American Film Festival

Kansas City, MO – UMKC professor Louis Imperiale talks about the Argentine film Wild Horses. Imperiale will be presenting the 1995 film at the Latin American Cinema Festival of Kansas City, which begins this month at the Rio Theater in Overland Park. Films from Argentina, Mexico, Colombia and Peru will be presented every Saturday until October 1.

Saxophonist and composer Ahmad Shahid Alaadeen, talks about his new album "New Africa Suite." He spoke with KCUR's Lee Ingalls.

Ailey Camp is over now, and the young people who participated in the intensive six week dance program are waiting out the hot days of August for school to begin. This is the final audio diary in our series with Ailey Camper Memory Brown.

Memory Brown Final Audio Diary

The some 200 Kansas City young people selected to be part of this year's AileyCamp are more than halfway through the intensive 6-week program.

The Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey began its 17th summer camp recently. In the first of three parts, we'll talk to Ailey Camper Memory Brown. Brown is 14 years old and lives with her grandmother. She was ecstatic when she got accepted to Ailey camp.

Kansas City, Missouri – The Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey began its 17th summer camp recently.

Back in the 1920s and 30s, Kansas City was a lively mix of political wheeling-and-dealing, organized crime, and the hot sounds of jazz.

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