Journalist, Producer & Photographer
Selected works of journalism — radio production and writing

Georgia Public Broadcasting

Enter 'Mirrorland' — And Atlanta's Land of Oz — With Hip-Hop Duo EarthGang

2019 is a big year for Atlanta hip-hop duo EarthGang. Earlier this year, their label, Dreamville — that's rapper J. Cole's Interscope Records imprint — released a multi-artist album called Revenge of the Dreamers 3. It debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's Top 200 albums chart.

And Friday, they drop their own Dreamville project into the world: the highly anticipated album Mirrorland.  Olu (a.k.a. Johnny Venus) and WowGr8 (a.k.a. Doctur Dot), the pair who make up EarthGang, joined On Second Thought to talk about their music and influences.

Credit: Georgia Public Broadcasting 

Credit: Emilia Brock

How Coronavirus Is Threatening The Arts And Culture Ecosystem — And May Usher In A New Period Of Art

Artists and arts organizations were quick to adapt to quarantine and coronavirus. Museum tours, operas, Broadway shows, author talks, home concerts and classes for kids sprung up online shortly after closures were announced.

But as the dust begins to settle on our new normal, many worry about the long-term economic impact and outlook for the artists, performers and independent organizations essential to the cultural ecosystem.

George Gershwin's 'Porgy And Bess' And Its Complicated Legacy Around Race

While not many operas were written in English, George Gershwin's Porgy and Bess is one of the most celebrated — and perhaps the most controversial.

Although the production provided roles for African American performers during a time when minstrelsy was still prevalent, criticism of the opera's representation of black culture, life and dialect have followed Gershwin's piece, from 1935, for decades. The Atlanta Opera is staging Porgy and Bess for five performances between Mar. 7 and 15. Part of this production has included programming to discuss the racial dilemma presented by Gershwin's opera.

Credit: Karli Cadel

Credit: Sony Music Archives

Rebels and Ramblers: New Ken Burns 'Country Music' Documentary

From the Civil War to the Dust Bowl and from baseball to jazz, Ken Burns documentaries have covered a range of critical events in American history and culture. Now, country music is getting the Ken Burns treatment.

He and long-time collaborators and producers Dayton Duncan and Julie Dunfey spent eight years researching and making an eight-part, 16-hour documentary called Country Music, which will air on PBS stations like GPB in September.

Pioneering Punk Band X On The Evolution Of L.A. Punk — And What It Means In 'The New World'

The first wave of punk rock growled out of the economic and social malaise of New York and London in the mid-1970s. But Los Angeles played a huge role in what came next, when punk's energetic D.I.Y. ethos began to diversify, cross genres and sprawl like the vast city itself.

One of the groups that sprouted in that time was the seminal punk band X. John Doe and Exene Cervenka, founding members of the band X, joined On Second Thought to share the history of that LA punk scene as they experienced it, how times have changed since then, and what it means to be punk rock in the modern world.

Credit: Frank Gargani

Credit: Matt Correia

Atlanta-Based Musician Curtis Harding Dishes Out 'Slop 'n' Soul' Anthems

You may have heard Curtis Harding's voice before, perhaps without realizing it. That's because, for a number of years, he worked with a familiar Atlanta native: CeeLo Green. Harding sang back-up vocals for CeeLo and even co-wrote songs with the Grammy Award-winning musician, like "Grand Canyon" — which was a bonus track on CeeLo's 2010 album, The Lady Killer.

After that and several other collaborations, Harding launched his solo career, applying his distinctive falsetto vocals to his own style of music, which he calls "slop 'n' soul." He joined On Second Thought to talk about his music and career.

The Capers And Creative Journey of Atlanta Band The Black Lips

Atlanta's own Black Lips is a band that keeps audiences on their toes, literally — which you'd know if you've ever landed in the mosh pit at one of their shows — and figuratively, given that the latest it-bag line from Gucci is named after band member Zumi Rosow.

For 20 years, founding members Cole Alexander and Jared Swilley have been making unruly garage rock, rockabilly records, and sometimes, they can sound like old country crooners. Swilley and Alexander spoke with On Second Thought while on the road, from The Studio in Portland, Maine, describing their journey from Dunwoody High School to recording with Yoko Ono. 

Credit: Yana Yatsuk

Credit: Eat Humans

Join Faye Webster And Her 'Atlanta Millionaire's Club' At Music Midtown

The annual Music Midtown festival takes place this weekend. Through its 25 year history — it launched in 1994 — A-list acts like Coldplay, Pearl Jam, Elton John and Drake have all taken to the festival's stages.

This year, performing musicians include Travis Scott, Vampire Weekend, Billie Eilish and Lizzo. Atlanta native Faye Webster will be among them. First, she joined On Second Thought to talk about how, while still only in her early 20s, she's already released her third album — and to tell us about her musical journey along the way.

In addition to releasing her third album, called Atlanta Millionaire's Club, this year, Webster has also found success with her photography, taking pictures of big-name musicians including Georgia acts like Killer Mike, Lil Yachty and Offset of Migos.

Atlanta Soul Singer Baby Rose Celebrates Deluxe Album 'To Myself'

Atlanta singer-songwriter Baby Rose has a soulful, smoky voice that has captured the music world. Her voice has been compared to the likes of Nina Simone, Billie Holiday and Amy Winehouse.

Baby Rose, otherwise known as Jasmine Rose Wilson, released her debut album To Myself last year. Since then, she’s been thrust into the spotlight, doing an NPR Tiny Desk Concert and being featured in media like Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, Elle, Billboard magazine and more.

The deluxe version of To Myself was released last week and includes three new songs: “Marmot,” “Damn,” and “August 5th." Baby Rose joined Morning Edition host Leah Fleming to talk about the new tracks, and how she’s marking the release of the deluxe album.

Credit: Emilia Brock

Credit: Jeff Forney

Atlanta Locals The Coathangers Bring Their 'Compassionate Punk' To Music Midtown

Music Midtown begins Saturday! This year, 25 years after it first began, the two-day festival will feature acts like Travis Scott, Cardi B, Lizzo and Vampire Weekend. And on Sunday at 1 p.m., you can catch Atlanta locals, The Coathangers.

First, drummer Stephanie Luke and bassist Meredith Franco, two members of the garage punk trio, joined On Second Thought to talk about how they started playing music together, what it's like being an all-female punk band in the music industry and what "punk" means to them.

'Undocorridos': Athens Resident Gives A New Name To A Mexican Musical Tradition

"Corridos" are a traditional form of storytelling through song, which became widely popular during the Mexican Revolution. They often tell stories of history, oppression, the common human experience and cultural heroes. These songs chronicle life (and sometimes death) in an easily shared and consumed format.

A new album by Athens-based musician and activist Beto Cacao carries on the tradition of this musical form. It's called Undocorridos: Songs of the Stories and Struggles of the Undocumented in the USA.

Cacao spoke to On Second Thought from WUGA in Athens to explain more.

Credit: Courtesy of Beto Cacao

Credit: Flux Projects

Art For Your Ears: Flux Transforms The Auditory Landscape of Ponce City Market

Flux Projects is back at it. The arts organization produces temporary events that connect people to creativity and to place. Beginning Thursday, Sept. 26, Flux is transforming Ponce City Market into an acoustic playground.

A series of artists are using sound as the primary medium to reveal hidden dimensions of the historic building turned ultra popular destination for food and shopping.

Atlanta's Original Old Town Road: The Site of Country Music's First Hit Could Be Demolished

The newest Ken Burns series premiering in September follows the vast and varied evolution of country music over the 20th century. The eight-part series begins not in Nashville, nor Bristol, but Atlanta.

That's because, in 1923, OKeh Records music pioneer Ralph Peer came from New York to the South and set up a temporary recording studio smack dab in downtown Atlanta at 152 Nassau Street. That's where he recorded early country, blues, jazz and gospel artists, including what is known as country music's first hit, "The Little Old Log Cabin in the Lane" by Fiddlin' John Carson.

Credit: Emilia Brock

Credit: Heidi Ross

Allison Moorer's 'Blood' Explores Trauma — and Healing — Through Music and Prose

Singer-songwriter Allison Moorer has recently released her 11th album, along with a companion memoir. They are both called Blood.

They tell a story she's avoided talking about directly throughout her career. When Allison was 14 years old, her father killed her mother - and then himself - leaving Moorer and her sister, the singer Shelby Lynne, orphans.

Moorer spoke with On Second Thought about why she decided to tell the story now, through music and prose, as she worked on her first memoir.

Breaking Ground On The Future Of Georgia Arts: The Goat Farm's $250 Million Transformation

The Goat Farm recently announced a $250 million transformation. Anthony Harper, founder and co-owner of the arts compound, joined On Second Thought to explain how this will allow them to both preserve most of the existing structures on the property while expanding the facilities and scope of their programs. He also discussed what they hope this will achieve for Georgia's arts community.

Credit: Courtesy of The Goat Farm

Credit: Andy Buchanan

Hear Sibelius' Rousing 'Finlandia' — Symbolizing The Finnish Spirit — At Atlanta Symphony Orchestra

The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra is celebrating its 75th anniversary with special events throughout the season. Next week, Thomas Søndergård returns to Atlanta to conduct music by Finnish composer Jean Sibelius – including his most famous piece,  a tone poem called "Finlandia."

Composed in 1899, "Finlandia" has its roots in political protest. After Russia, which ruled Finland at the time, sought to control the small Nordic country through press censorship and other restrictions, Finnish artists responded by creating art to express their opposition. 

Including Sibelius.

Robyn Hitchcock Talks British Negativity And The Next Generation Before Eddie's Attic Performances

English singer-songwriter Robyn Hitchcock has been making music for more than 40 years now. Inspired by pop rock from the likes of The Beatles, his tunes vary from jangly psychedelia to somber acoustic numbers.

Hitchcock has released more than 20 records, whether under his own name or as member of The Soft Boys, a band he founded in 1976. Hitchcock's music has been inspired by rock 'n' roll forerunners and his peers and has, in turn, influenced a number of other acts. Athens band R.E.M., for example, covered one of his songs, called "Arms of Love."

Credit: Courtesy of Robyn Hitchcock

Credit: Photo by William Wylie / Cover courtesy of The University of North Carolina Press

'Cool Town': Author Grace Hale On How The Athens Music Scene Launched A New American Bohemia

Athens, Georgia was a sleepy Southern college town in the late 1970s and early ‘80s. Bulldogs football and an established fraternity and sorority scene dominated social life on the University of Georgia campus.

But something else was percolating in the shadows of Milledge Avenue: a creative underground as vibrant and subversive as any you might find in the country’s major cities. It was in this period that Athens became the site of one of the most influential regional music scenes of the late 20th century, spawning ground-breaking bands like The B-52’s, Pylon, R.E.M., and countless others.

The Intergenerational Power In Margaret Wilkerson Sexton's New Book 'The Revisoners'

Ava King is a newly divorced mother of a teenage son when she moves into her grandmother’s posh New Orleans home. Ava is the descendant of slaves, grandma Martha is about as WASP-y as they come, and their connected pasts are one of the plot twists in The Revisioners, a new novel by National Book Award finalist Margaret Wilkerson Sexton.

There is some magic in The Revisioners, but it’s less fantasy than testament to intergenerational bonds — in this case between Ava and her great-great-great grandmother, born enslaved on a Louisiana plantation.

Margaret Wilkerson Sexton joined On Second Thought to unpack her vision for The Revisioners, and her aim to look deeper at the power passed down through generations of African American families.

Credit: Melissa Schmidt


A Cross Cut Of Georgia Concerts
Atlanta Musicians Jazz Up The Holiday Season Across Georgia with 'A Charlie Brown Christmas'
Grammy-Winning Jazz Saxophonist David Sánchez Pays Homage To The African Diaspora With 'Carib'
- From Ray Charles To Aretha Franklin, How Legendary Producer Jerry Wexler Shaped Soul and R&B
A Musical Hand Wash Timer — And Other Quarantine Projects — From Atlanta Tech Artist Eddie Farr
Legendary Rock Musicians And A Violinist Join Forces For 'A Night of Georgia Music'
You've Heard His Music, Now See His Art: Elton John Lyricist Bernie Taupin's Art On View in Atlanta
From Billie Eilish to Lizzo, Paste Magazine Shares Highlights From Their '50 Best Albums of 2019'
- Atlanta Band Omni Muses on the Modern World With New Album, 'Networker'
How Japanese Breakfast Navigated Grief Through Music And, Now, Writing
Welcome To Atlanta: The Club Scene That Promoted A New Hip-Hop Capital
Copyright Emilia Brock 2022