Author, Dancer's Playlist Keeps Her On Point

It's no small feat to tell the beautiful and even messy stories of women's lives. Brenda Dixon Gottschild chronicled the life of a dance legend in her book, Joan Myers Brown and the Audacious Hope of the Black Ballerina. As part of the program's "In Your Ear" series, Dixon Gottschild shares some of the songs that continue to inspire her.

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And now, it's time for the feature we call In Your Ear. That's when we talk with some of our guests about the music they love. Today, we get the personal playlist of another author featured in our Women's History Month series. She's Brenda Dixon Gottschild, and we spoke with her recently about her book, "Joan Myers Brown & the Audacious Hope of the Black Ballerina." And here's some of the music that keeps her on point.

BRENDA DIXON GOTTSCHILD: I am Brenda Dixon Gottschild and this is what's playing in my ear.


AMEL LARRIEUX: (Humming) Mm-hmm. Hmm. Mm-hmm, hmm.

GOTTSCHILD: Amel Larrieux happens to be my daughter.


LARRIEUX: (Singing) I work hard for what I got. Plenty overtime. When I clock out I'm worn and beat down, beat down. Still ready to fly. Here you come with those...

GOTTSCHILD: In her album called "Morning," I love listening to this album while I'm cooking, and particularly this song called "Earn My Affection."


LARRIEUX: (Singing) ...making pie. You got to earn my affection, put your back into it before we get this show on the road. Don't make me lose all my self-respect.

GOTTSCHILD: First of all, Amel's incredibly lilting and wonderful voice and complex words that are telling. She writes story songs and this one is about listen, guy, you have to earn my affection. You know, don't just think that I'm your pushover. I'm not a pushover for anybody.


LARRIEUX: (Singing) You set a pretty table and serve me raw meat. Ask me to the show but don't save me a seat. Say together we can sail, then add me to your fleet. The perfect pair of pants are ruined with the...

GOTTSCHILD: Another song that I find myself returning to over and over is Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On."


MARVIN GAYE: (Singing) Mother, mother, there's too many of you crying. Brother, brother, brother, there's far too many of you dying.

GOTTSCHILD: What's incredible for me with this song is that I feel like it's a history lesson. There it is him talking about Vietnam. How long ago with a song written? Why is it still so relevant?


GAYE: (Singing) Father, father, we don't need to escalate. You see, war is not the answer for only love can conquer hate.

GOTTSCHILD: Another song that I'm listening to by the awesome Pointer Sisters is that incredible anthem, "Yes We Can."


POINTER SISTERS: (Singing) Now's the time for all good men to get together with one another. We got to iron out our problems and iron out our quarrels and try to live as brothers.

GOTTSCHILD: And that message for us as a people - also for us as Americans - that we can, yes, we can, can, can - that song just has a resonance for me.


SISTERS: (Singing) We got to make this land a better land than the world in which we live.

LYDEN: That was author Brenda Dixon Gottschild telling us was playing in her ear. To hear our previous conversation with her, please go to and search for TELL ME MORE.

And that's our program for today. I'm Jacki Lyden and you've been listening to TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Let's talk more tomorrow.

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