Laura Hunsberger

Producer

Laura Hunsberger began her career in radio in 2010 at WHQR in Wilmington, NC and received her MFA in Creative Writing, Nonfiction from UNCW. In 2012, Hunsberger began working as Associate Producer for the NPR and South Carolina Public Radio program Song Travels with Michael Feinstein. In 2015, she became a staff reporter for South Carolina Public Radio, reporting on statewide and national news and covering the historic floods that hit South Carolina in October 2015.

Ways to Connect

Bobby McFerrin
Courtesy of the artist

Vocalist Bobby McFerrin is best known for his 1988 hit “Don’t Worry Be Happy,” which was the first a capella song to reach #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and won three Grammy Awards, including Song of the Year. McFerrin also has five Grammy wins for Best Male Jazz Vocal and has created a concert version of Porgy and Bess. This week McFerrin stops by Song Travels’ studio to talk about his endless creativity and the enduring appeal of the Gershwins.

News Stations: Sun, Jan 15, 2 pm | Classical Stations: Sun, Jan 15, 6 pm

Jeannie Cheatham with her late husband, Jimmy Cheatham.
Courtesy of the artist

Pianist and vocalist Jeannie Cheatham began piano lessons at the tender age of five and at 13 became intoxicated with the sounds of jazz. Cheatham toured with such blues artists as Jimmy Witherspoon, T-Bone Walker, Odetta, and Big Mama Thornton.

In the 1950s she met her husband, bass trombonist Jimmy Cheatham, and the pair formed the Sweet Baby Blues Band. On this 1989 Piano Jazz, Cheatham performs “Midnight Mam.” McPartland and Cheatham join forces for a swinging duet on “Perdido.”

News Stations: Sat, Jan 014, 8 pm | Classical Station: Sun, Jan 15, 7 pm

Toots Thielemans

Jan 2, 2017
Toots Thielemans
Jos Knaepen

This week Piano Jazz remembers Jean-Baptiste “Toots” Thielemans (1922 – 2016), unrivaled master of the jazz harmonica. He was recognized the world over for his trademark style and tender sound, and he worked with greats such as Benny Goodman, Ella Fitzgerald, and Quincy Jones. With a list of recording credits including the theme for Sesame Street, alongside film scores and commercials, Thielemans was a legend. In this session from 2005, he exchanges stories with McPartland and joins her for “Giant Steps” and “Georgia.”

Ann Hampton Callaway
Courtesy of the artist

Tony Award-nominated actress, vocalist and songwriter Ann Hampton Callaway has sung with top orchestras and big bands the world over. As a songwriter, she penned tunes for Barbara Streisand and wrote and sang the theme to the hit sitcom The Nanny. On this Song Travels, she performs a set of standards, including “Our Love is Here to Stay.”

News Stations: Sun, Jan 08, 2 pm | Classical Stations: Sun, Jan 08, 6 pm

Stephen Holden

Dec 26, 2016
Stephen Holden
Courtesy of the artist

Writer and critic Stephen Holden has covered everything from film to cabaret for The New York Times, as well as for TV programs such as 60 Minutes and 20/20. He covered the singer-songwriter explosion of the ’70s, and his 1980 satirical novel Triple Platinum was based on his experiences as a journalist and executive with RCA. This week Holden brings his wealth of knowledge to a discussion with host Michael Feinstein about music, lyrics and songwriting.

News Stations: Sun, Jan 01, 2 pm | Classical Stations: Sun, Jan 01, 6 pm

Loston Harris
Courtesy of the artist

For more than a decade, Loston Harris has headlined at Bemelmans Bar in Manhattan, delighting audiences with his smooth, soulful voice and piano style. Harris began his jazz career as a drummer but was encouraged by mentor Ellis Marsalis to switch to the piano. Hence, he discovered a new instrument and a new musical world. On this 1999 Piano Jazz, Harris performs “I Just Can’t See for Looking.” McPartland joins him for a rousing duet of Ellington’s “Do Nothing ‘til You Hear from Me.”

News Stations: Sat, Dec 31, 8 pm | Classical Station: Sun, Jan 01, 7 pm

Wayne Brady
facebook.com/WayneBrady

Wayne Brady became a star improvising on the popular TV show Whose Line is it Anyway? A singer, actor, dancer, and comedian, Brady has also appeared on stage in Rent and Chicago, and hosts the TV game show Let’s Make a Deal. On this Song Travels, Brady discusses the musical influence of Sammy Davis, Jr. and Sam Cooke. With musical director Cat Gray at the piano, Brady performs the Cooke classic “You Send Me” and host Feinstein joins him in a duet of “It’s Only a Paper Moon.”

André Previn
Lillian Birnbaum/DG

Conductor, composer, and pianist André Previn has received multiple Lifetime Achievement Awards, including honors from the Kennedy Center, the London Symphony Orchestra, and the Grammy Awards. Previn achieved an exceptional reputation as a jazz pianist in a series of recordings he made in the 1950s and 1960s. On this 1990 Piano Jazz, Previn plays a special treatment of “Stormy Weather” and then joins McPartland for an improvisation of “Stars Fell on Alabama.”

News Stations: Sat, Dec 24, 8 pm | Classical Station: Sun, Dec 25, 7 pm

Jake Shimabukuro
Alex Ferrari

Jake Shimabukuro has carried the sound of the ukulele from the shores of Hawaii to the world’s concert stages. In his hands, the humble “little guitar” sings everything from J.S. Bach to the Beatles. His album Grand Ukulele shows off new sides of the musician and features a number of original songs and reinterpretations. On this week’s Song Travels, Shimabukuro performs “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and joins host Feinstein for a duet of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.”

News Stations: Sun, Dec 18, 2 pm | Classical Stations: Sun, Dec 18, 6 pm

Patti Wicks
Jimmy Katz

Pianist and vocalist Patti Wicks (1945 – 2014) began picking out tunes at the age of three and learned to play by ear because she was born visually impaired. As an adult, Wicks continued her music education at the Crane School of Music, SUNY. She honed her craft in New York jazz clubs and went on to perform in major venues and festivals the world over. In this 2004 Piano Jazz session, Wicks solos on McPartland’s tune, “There’ll Be Other Times,” and joins McPartland for “Body and Soul.”

News Stations: Sat, Dec 17, 8 pm | Classical Station: Sun, Dec 18, 7 pm

Melissa Manchester
Courtesy of the artist

Grammy Award-winning vocalist and songwriter Melissa Manchester performed with Bette Midler as “Toots in the Middle” in the original group The Harlettes. She co-wrote and produced a number of hits during the ’70s and ’80s, and her songs have been recorded by artists such as Barbara Streisand, Alison Krause, and Johnny Mathis. She reprises a few of her hit songs on this edition of Song Travels, including “Through the Eyes of Love.”

News Stations: Sun, Dec 11, 2 pm | Classical Stations: Sun, Dec 11, 6 pm

Saxophonist Grover Washington, Jr. (1943-1999) was a master musician and multiple Grammy winner. He performed internationally and worked with names like Bobby McFerrin, B.B. King, Patti LaBelle, and Nancy Wilson. He performed at the 1993 Inauguration of President Bill Clinton. Washington’s purity of tone and long, fluid lines are evident on this 1994 Piano Jazz. He and McPartland join forces to play “Prelude to a Kiss” and “What Am I Here For.”

News Stations: Sat, Dec 10, 8 pm | Classical Station: Sun, Dec 11, 7 pm

Vocalist and songwriter Kat Edmonson has played major stages across the country. She also performed on The Tonight Show and Austin City Limits. Her 2014 album, The Big Picture, debuted at Number One on Billboard’s Heatseekers chart. On this Song Travels, Edmonson shares her original song “Champagne” and teams up with Feinstein for “Long Way Home.”

News Stations: Sun, Dec 04, 2 pm | Classical Stations: Sun, Dec 04, 6 pm

Meredith D’Ambrosio
meredithdambrosio.com

A sensitive and romantic vocalist and pianist, Meredith D’Ambrosio is a champion of the lesser-known songs of famous composers. She is also respected as a visual artist, composer, and teacher. In the late eighties, she met her late husband, pianist Eddie Higgins, and the pair went on to record and perform as a musical duo. On this 1994 Piano Jazz, D’Ambrosio sings and plays her own songs “Beware of Spring” and “Give It Time.”

News Stations: Sat, Dec 03, 8 pm | Classical Station: Sun, Dec 04, 7 pm

Lonnie Liston Smith
Scott Miller

Lonnie Liston Smith is one of contemporary music’s most versatile keyboardists. With a career spanning four decades, Smith has worked as a soloist, bandleader, and sideman to greats including Miles Davis, Betty Carter, Max Roach, and Pharaoh Sanders. He was McPartland’s guest on Piano Jazz in 2002. Smith presents his relaxed style on “What is this Thing Called Love.” Then he and McPartland swing into “C Jam Blues.” 

News Stations: Sat, Nov 26, 8 pm | Classical Station: Sun, Nov 27, 7 pm

Nellie Luchter, circa 1950
Public Domain

Nellie Lutcher (1912 – 2007) started out playing piano at fifteen but soon transitioned to singing. She built a career as a prominent jazz vocalist in the 1940s and 1950s with hits such as “Fine Brown Frame.” She joined McPartland for Piano Jazz in 1986. Lutcher performs two of her most popular compositions, “Hurry on Down” and “Real Gone Guy.” McPartland solos on “Love Is the Sweetest Thing,” and the two combine their talents on “I’ve Got a Right to Sing the Blues.”

News Stations: Sat, Nov 19, 8 pm | Classical Station: Sun, Nov 20, 7 pm

Richard Sudhalter (1938 – 2008) was a true “Renaissance Man” of jazz. A top jazz cornetist, he was also a respected critic, author, recording artist, and featured guest at major jazz festivals. He co-wrote Bix: Man and Legend, which was nominated for a National Book Award, and in 1983 won a Grammy for his liner notes for Bunny Berigan: Giants of Jazz. On this 1992 Piano Jazz, Sudhalter reminisces about Bix Beiderbeck and joins McPartland for a duet of “Chasing Shadows.”

News Stations: Sat, Nov 12, 8 pm | Classical Station: Sun, Nov 13, 7 pm

This 2003 Piano Jazz with guest Sir Roland Hanna (1932 – 2002) was recorded before a live audience at the 2002 Tanglewood Jazz Festival. A subtle and insightful pianist, he was a superb two piano partner, as evidenced when he and McPartland get together for “Blues in the Closet.” In this session, Hanna uses his solid sense of rhythm as a springboard into exciting explorations of melody and harmony. He shows off his skill as a composer with his “Portrait of John Lewis.”

News Stations: Sat, Nov 05, 8 pm | Classical Station: Sun, Nov 06, 7 pm

Hillary Gardner
Courtesy of the artist

Vocalist Hilary Gardner made her debut on Broadway in Twyla Tharp’s musical Come Fly Away, singing solos and duets with Frank Sinatra to much critical acclaim. In 2014, she released her debut solo album, The Great City, a love letter to New York City. On this edition of Song Travels, Gardner evokes memories of another time and place with her take on Tom Waits’ ballad “Drunk on the Moon.”

News Stations: Sun, Nov 06, 2 pm | Classical Stations: Sun, Nov 06, 6 pm

Mario Grigorov
Courtesy of the artist

Born in Sophia, Bulgaria, Mario Grigorov studied classical music until he fell in love with jazz. As a child his parents performed in the Sophia Symphony Orchestra before moving to Iran, where his father played in the Shah’s symphony orchestra. Grigorov continued to study music intensively as his family moved to Austria and Australia before he settled in the United States in 1992. On this 1995 Piano Jazz, Grigorov’s stunning originality is evident on his own “Lost City.” He and McPartland duet on Jobim’s “Wave.”

News Stations: Sat, Oct 29, 8 pm | Classical Station: Sun, Oct 30, 7 pm

Esperanza Spalding
Courtesy of the artist

Bassist Esperanza Spalding is one of the most talked about artists in jazz today. She scored a surprise win for Best New Artist at the 2011 Grammy Awards and went on to win three additional Grammy Awards. On this Piano Jazz from 2008, bassist and vocalist Spalding brings her neo-soul style to a set of standards with the aid of pianist Leo Genovese. McPartland’s piano provides a perfect accompaniment to Spalding’s bass and vocals in Duke Ellington’s “Prelude to a Kiss.”

News Stations: Sat, Oct 22, 8 pm | Classical Station: Sun, Oct 23, 7 pm

Nick Waterhouse
nickwaterhouse.com

Vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter Nick Waterhouse has been called “the young man who makes old R&B” (LA Weekly). His first single, “Some Place,” was recorded in an all-analog studio and released on vinyl. Although his records recall the sound of the 1950s, his style is all his own. On this Song Travels, Waterhouse shares his love of 45 rpm records and raw, live rock 'n' roll. Joined by Jay B. Flatt on piano, the session includes his original songs “Sleeping Pills” and “Hands on the Clock.”

Roy Kral (1921 – 2002) was working in Chicago with the George Davis Quartet when he met Jackie Cain (1928 – 2014). They formed a duo, Jackie and Roy, and the rest is history. The vocal and piano duo blended witty lyrics and unusual melodies with a light modern jazz feeling. These dear friends of McPartland’s were her guests for Piano Jazz in 1992. A sophisticated and charming pair, the husband and wife team play Alec Wilder’s “While We Were Young” and join McPartland for a trio of “Joy Spring.”

Chucho Valdés
Francis Vernhet/International Music Network

At one time, pianist Jesus “Chucho” Valdés was banned from performing in the United States. Today, he enjoys performing and teaching here as well as in his native Cuba. Valdés is a world-class innovator in Latin jazz. In 1973 he founded Irakere, a group that introduced a new fusion of African traditional music with Cuban jazz. On this Piano Jazz from 2000, Valdés and host McPartland share a love of pianist Bill Evans, and in tribute they create their version of “Waltz for Debby.” Valdés treats listeners to his composition “Claudia.”

Louise Welch-Williams (center), the Regional CEO for the Red Cross in South Carolina at work in Southern Louisiana. Welch-Williams was one of more than 50 Red Crossers who travelled to Louisiana to help after the August floods.
Courtesy of the American Red Cross

    In August, the state of Louisiana experienced catastrophic flooding in one of the worst natural disasters since Hurricane Sandy. Residents of South Carolina could certainly relate to the images of houses under water and people being rescued by boat, as South Carolina is still recovering from last fall’s historic floods. Having gone through something similar, many people in the state want to help in some way.

Jitterbug Vipers
Clayton Hodges

Austin, TX based quartet the Jitterbug Vipers play 1930s-style viper jazz. Their original music recalls classics by Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and Cab Callaway. The Jitterbug Vipers are vocalist Sarah Sharp, bassist Francie Meaux Jeaux, percussionist Masumi Jones, and guitarist Slim Richey (who passed away in 2015). We remember Slim Richey this week with the group’s Song Travels session. The band presents a set sure to make you want to get up and dance!

News Stations: Sun, Oct 02, 2 pm | Classical Stations: Sun, Oct 02, 6 pm

Grammy and Emmy Award-winning conductor, pianist, composer, and arranger Lee Musiker has long worked with leading jazz, classical, pop, and Broadway performers. He conducted the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the National Orchestra in the US and Canada. He has also worked as a music director for top artists, and his work can be heard on the soundtracks of Hollywood films. Musiker brings a wealth of knowledge to this 2005 Piano Jazz, performing "Fascinating Rhythm" with McPartland.

News Stations: Sat, Oct 01, 8 pm | Classical Station: Sun, Oct 02, 7 pm

Margaret and Harry Plexico spent months trying to clean up and salvage their flooded home before decided to start over elsewhere.
Ryan Plexico

Update: Due to Hurricane Matthew, the SC Flood Strong 5K has been rescheduled for December 10, 2016.

Ryan Plexico used to stop by his parents’ home every day to go for a run in their neighborhood. When his parents lost their home in the October floods, Ryan found a way to give back through running.

Rickie Lee Jones
David McClister

  Multiple Grammy Award-winning vocalist and songwriter Rickie Lee Jones has been pushing down musical boundaries for more than four decades with her hauntingly beautiful voice. She has carved her own unique path, collaborating with artists from Alison Kraus to Dr. John. On this Song Travels, Jones employs her sultry voice to perform some of the standards that have inspired her along the way.

News Stations: Sun, Sep 25, 2 pm | Classical Stations: Sun, Sep 25, 6 pm

  Vibraphonist Cecilia Smith is a leading proponent of the four-mallet technique. She has performed at nightclubs, concert halls, and festivals all over the world and collaborated with greats such as Mulgrew Miller, Cecil Bridgewater, and Randy Weston. On this Piano Jazz from 2000, she and McPartland combine talents in a rendition of “Old Devil Moon.” Smith solos on her “Lullaby for Miles and Bill” and a piece dedicated to her mother, “Mourning Before Grace.”

News Stations: Sat, Sep 24, 8 pm | Classical Station: Sun, Sep 25, 7 pm

Pages