Letters: Kennedy Center Gets A New Organ

Robert Siegel and Melissa Block read emails from listeners about a new organ at the Kennedy Center.

Copyright © 2012 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

It's time now for your letters and a few corrections. Last week, we gave you a preview of movies opening this holiday season, including "West of Memphis." We said that the documentary follows the controversial conviction of three teenagers in Tennessee. We should have said Arkansas.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Also in that story, we said that the musical "Les Miserables," which opens Christmas Day, tells the story of an 18th century French rebellion. Not quite. "Les Mis" is set in the 19th century.

BLOCK: And our final correction comes from my conversation earlier this week with singer Me'shell Ndegeocello. She's released an album of songs that the great Nina Simone either wrote or interpreted. During my chat with Ndegeocello, I mistakenly said that the song "Four Women" was written by both Simone and the poet Langston Hughes.

Well, Nadine Cohodas, author of the biography "Princess Noire: The Tumultuous Reign of Nina Simone," emailed to set me straight. She writes this: This was Nina's own composition, initially recorded in the fall of 1965. Perhaps you were thinking of "Backlash Blues," the biting poem that Hughes gave to Nina to set to music, which she so strikingly did.

And Ms. Cohodas adds, about the song "Four Women": May I say with a smile that I can imagine Nina pounding her fist someplace saying, no, that's my song. And, indeed, it is.

SIEGEL: Well, now to your letters. And many of you wrote in praise of Nina Totenberg's brief departure from covering the Supreme Court, to tell us about the new pipe organ at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Do you want to play it?

NINA TOTENBERG, BYLINE: Sure.

(SOUNDBITE OF ORGAN)

BLOCK: Lynn Griebling(ph) of Green Bay, Wisconsin writes: As a lifelong musician and organist, I loved your piece about the Kennedy Center Organ. Furthermore, you explained something complicated in a way that most people would find interesting and inviting.

SIEGEL: Vera Schwankl(ph) of Las Vegas, Nevada agreed. She writes: You found a great balance between keeping it interesting for a musician and also accessible to a non-musician. It's also nice to know that you do sometimes get a break from reading Supreme Court transcripts.

(SOUNDBITE OF ORGAN)

BLOCK: We pull out all the stops for our program every day. Let us know what you think. You can write to us by going to NPR.org and click on Contact Us.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SIEGEL: This is NPR News.

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