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American Routes belts it out in celebration of big voices. We’ll sample three from across the musical board: the eerie smoothness of Little Jimmy Scott, an 89-year-old jazz singer who’s recently been rediscovered; the crooning of country star Ray Price; and the gritty shout of Chicago blueswoman Koko Taylor.


American Routes settles back into the groove with the mellow music and words of our guest Lazy Lester: a hardworking bluesman from Louisiana’s provincial capitol of Baton Rouge. Then a tour of the world of African and African-American music from Morocco to Brooklyn with jazz pianist Randy Weston. Plus, author Jason Berry on the transformation of New Orleans’ Congo Square from a historical trading post to a center for emerging jazz artists.


This American Routes focuses on Jewish, Arab-American, Middle Eastern and Islamic influences on African-American music and culture. Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller talk about how “two young Jewish guys” from the East Coast wrote some of our most memorable songs, like “Hound Dog,” “Yakety Yak” and “I’m a Woman.” Plus: music portraying Old Testament tales in gospel and reggae; Middle Eastern images in jazz and pop; and the impact of Islam on the blues. Also, Atlantic Records founder and Turkish ambassador’s son Ahmet Ertegun looks back on over a half-century producing blues, jazz, R&B, soul and rock.


Many have sought solace in music since the sadness and conflict of September 11, 2001. American Routes honors veterans of war, fire, and emergency service with music appropriate to the nation’s mood on this first anniversary of the tragedy. Merle Haggard, Gillian Welch and American Routes listeners tell us what songs have helped them get through this past year, and timeless songs from John Coltrane, the Carter Family and Jimmy Cliff offer a chance for meditation.