Episode 1 – James Baldwin
For our first podcast, we present James Baldwin’s ‘Sonny’s Blues’. Born and raised in Harlem, James Baldwin’s writing and his work on behalf of African Americans is known worldwide. His debut novel ‘Go Tell It on the Mountain, and his powerful collections of non-fiction, ‘Notes of A Native Son, ‘Nobody Knows My Name’ and ‘The Fire Next Time, established him as one of the most important literary voices of the 20th century. ‘Sonny’s Blues’, which first appeared in The Partisan Review in 1957, and later on in Baldwins short fiction collection, ‘Going to Meet The Man’, in 1965. This story is an example of Baldwin at his finest: a story about family, community, race, and yes Music. This story’s central relationship is between two brothers, one a teacher and dutiful husband, the other, a troubled, but rising jazz pianist recently paroled after being imprisoned for selling heroin. Baldwin’s masterful expression of his character’s inner dialogue, best exemplified by the title character’s struggle to reconnect with his skills on the bandstand, gives us a clear view into the mind of an artist and an eloquent description of jazz.