Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Bobby Hebb interviewed in 2009 for 2012 book The Beautiful Music All Around us by Stephen Wade


Kojo Nnamdi and Stephen Wade discussed Bobby on WAMU 88.5, Kojo's radio show  February 18, 2013.

Go to the top left hand side of the page and click on where it says LISTEN

or click on here:

6:27 Grand Ole Opry

8:40  Kojo  "A lot of people remember the Nashville musician Bobby Hebb. He's the guy behind the tune "Sunny", beautiful tune. You found that his eventual career was one that had a lot to do with street musicians in his hometown, like the Washboard band, why is he, why is Bobby Hebb, an important part of this story? " 

8:58 Stephen: "Well, he was great.  I talked to him, his parents were blind and they, in that time, that's just the way...there was no state support, they had to make a living. They made a living on the streets.  They had, he told me, Hebb's Kitchen Cabinet Orchestra, and it was he, his brothers and sisters and parents. And they went out and they played on the streets of Nashville, and he told me...it showed him, you know, he learned how to play at that time, he would sing and dance and play the spoons with them.  And then that led to his going on the Grand Ole Opry. He was the second African American, he was in, on that show he was, he played with Roy Acuff, and he was in Roy Acuff's jug band  which was an offshoot band that Acuff had that stemmed from his own medicine show days.  

(9:49) And Bobby Hebb told me how important it was to him  to have that experience.  And then after that he left...this is the mid-50s, he went to  Chicago, played with Bo Diddley and went on with his career. 
 10:02 But, he said, again - this inter-connectedness thing. He said "we would listen to Walter Winchell, you know, at night, but we'd listen to bluegrass in the morning, or one or the other, he was hearing all kinds of things that were being processed and brought into his musical vocabulary.  And that's what always ...his story.

10:22 This is a person who, he's an opening act for The Beatles on their last tour of America, he helps write "A Natural Man" for Lou Rawls, he writes "Sunny" for his late brother...and yet, to him the whole washboard and street music experience in Nashville was really important.

So for me, he was a witness and able to explain what, more about the lives of the Nashville Washboard band and that's why  I sought him out. I'm sorry he's passed away."

10:50 Kojo: He passed away in 2010. I'm sorry he passed away (but) I am so glad you had the opportunity to speak with him before that time so that he can become a living, breathing part...

11:02 Stephen: I talked to over two hundred people in the course of my book, about a hundred are in the book, and so many have passed on. The best part of my work nowadays, Kojo...is going back to the communities where I did my research and presenting this book, doing presentations with this book in those places, and the people whose lives have been the most devastated, whose stories are the roughest in this book are the ones the most happy to have those stories out.  It's not with embarrassment, it's with understanding and expressing ....their kin, with a heightened sense of who they really were. And that's been so meaningful to me.

On Now:

"The Beautiful Music All Around Us"

February 18, 2013
Musician Stephen Wade join us to explore the stories he unlocked when he set out to learn more about some of the most famous field recordings in American history.

Here's a link on Stephen Wade's book (which includes a brief video):

On April 9, 2009 author Stephen Wade interviewed Bobby Hebb 
for his (then forthcoming) book  

The Beautiful Music All Around Us: Field Recordings and the American Experience



Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780252036880
  • Publisher: University of Illinois Press
  • Publication date: 8/10/2012
  • Series: Music in American Life
  • Edition description: 1st Edition
  • Pages: 504
  • Sales rank: 78,938
  • Product dimensions: 7.30 (w) x 10.30 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Musician, recording artist, and writer Stephen Wade is best known for his long-running stage performances of Banjo Dancing and On the Way Home. He also produced and annotated the Rounder CD collection that gave rise to this book, A Treasury of Library of Congress Field Recordings. Since 1996 his occasional commentaries on folksongs and traditional tunes have appeared on National Public Radio's All Things Considered.


The Beautiful Music All Around Us presents the extraordinarily rich backstories of thirteen performances captured on Library of Congress field recordings between 1934 and 1942 in locations reaching from Southern Appalachia to the Mississippi Delta and the Great Plains. Including the children's play song "Shortenin' Bread," the fiddle tune "Bonaparte's Retreat," the blues "Another Man Done Gone," and the spiritual "Ain't No Grave Can Hold My Body Down," these performances were recorded in kitchens and .
Date: Thursday, April 9, 2009, 6:24 PM
Dear Joe,

Thank you and Mr. Hebb so much for this illuminating and
amazing conversation.  Just moments ago we concluded, and
I'm awash in the power of his words and  perceptions. What a wonderful
person. He's helped this stranger so much in better understanding those
times and coming to know his own experiences. He also granted me the
opportunity to follow up with another call should need arise.

I'm enormously grateful to you both, and will be
writing to you tomorrow.

Bless you!


Here's also a link on Stephen's most recent album.  He received a 2013 Grammy nomination:
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