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THE KITCHEN SISTERS
DAVIA NELSON & NIKKI SILVA

KUSP
The Kitchen Sisters first grant award

KUSP program guide announces The Kitchen Sisters first grant award - "That picante duo, who bring you Every Wrinkle tells a Story, Tuesdays.... have finally hit the gravy train"

Nikki Silva and I started doing a local radio show together on KUSP FM in Santa Cruz in the late 70's. I would like to be more precise with the all the dates on these pages, but even though we chronicle everyone else's history, we're not so good at keeping our own. Our show, "Every Wrinkle Tells a Story, two hours every Tuesday afternoon, actually sounded a lot like what Lost & Found Sound has come to be.

We took the name The Kitchen Sisters from two Santa Cruz stone masons from the 1940's, The Kitchen Brothers. It just seemed to fit.

Here's a little about some of the stories we've produced over the course of working together on and off for twenty or so years. When Nikki isn't a Kitchen Sister, she's a Museum Curator, and in my other lives I do casting, writing and producing for movies. Included are the first story we ever did for NPR, some of our All Things Considered pieces, our documentaries for Soundprint, for NPR's beautiful 1980's series on 20th Century Latin American Fiction, and some Lost & Found Sounds.

-Davia Nelson

"All dates are approximate - as best we can recollect..."
- The Kitchen Sisters

Road Ranger

Road Ranger - 1980

The Champion of the Stranded Traveler, The Scourge of the Tow Hook and the Long Delay - The Kitchen Sisters go on "patrol" with this costumed crusader laden with 700lbs of vehicle saving devices on a windy stretch of California highway. This is the first piece we produced and had aired on NPR when Alex Chadwick was host of Weekend All Things Considered.


Nikki & Davia recording on location - late '70s

The Legend of Ernest Morgan, The World's Champion One-handed Pool Player
"It just got in my blood like a man on dope, or drinking whiskey, you know, it gets in your blood, you gotta have it. I'd die if I didn't get to play sometime every day a little bit. The football shot, I'll show you that in a minute..." Ernie Morgan traveled the bars and pool halls of America shooting exhibition pool nightly, telling his life story. The Kitchen Sisters produced this portrait of a pool shark for All Things Considered.

War and Separation - 1982
In 1983 The Kitchen Sisters received the Humanities Programming Award from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting for this fourteen minute portrait of life of the Home front during WWII told through oral histories, radio broadcasts, music, soap operas and home recorded letters on 78's sent between soldiers and their wives and girlfriends. Produced for All Things Considered.

Route 66
Route 66:
The Mother Road
- 1984

In 1984 there were no Route 66 associations, historic signs, fun runs or anything else to promote or identify the road. Only fading landmarks with names like 66 Motel or 66 Diner were left as sentinels of an era gone by. Such is the perspective of this audio documentary. Program 1: The Main Street of America "I remember taking our a ruler a and a roadmap and seeing how many inches it was from Chicago - 'more than 2000 miles all the way.'" Songwriter Bobby Troup tells the story of his 1946 hit, "Get Your Kicks on Route 66." Also Gladys Cutberth, know as "Mrs. 66," and other members of the old "66 Association" talk about the early years of the road. And Mickey Mantle explains, "If it hadn't been for U.S. 66 I wouldn't have been a Yankee." These people and others tell about the beginnings of the highway and the making of a legend. Program 2:The Hard Road Program 3: Travel Rt, 66 - See the Wonders of the World Program 4: Route 66 -The Television Series Program 5:The Ghost Road

Faces, Mirrors, Masks:
Twentieth-Century Latin American Fiction

NPR Radio Series (Documentary and Drama)

Cabrera Infante
Cabrera Infante

Jorge Amado
Jorge Amado:

Guillermo Cabrera Infante: Memories of an Invented City A sound portrait of the exiled Cuban writer. Interviews with Cabrera Infante along with cinematographer, Nestor Almendros, painter Jesse Fernandez, activist Saul Landau, and others are included. Actors Lazaro Perez, and Ilka Tanya Payan are heard in dramatizations from his novel, Three Trapped Tigers The author's musical and cinematic influences and how these put him at odds with the leaders of the Cuban revolution, who were more interested in social realism.

Jorge Amado: The Ballad of Bahia, Brazilian author Jorge Amado, Gabriella, Clove and Cinammon, Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands, Tent of Miracles, and more is chronicled and dramatized in this half hour documentary that includes interviews with Amado, his wife, Brazilian composer and singer Dorival Caymmi and singer and activist Harry Belafonte.

Francis Coppola
Francis Coppola, director of Tucker
Tucker: The Man and the Car of Tomorrow - 1988

The mid-1940s found Americans gearing up for a consumer economy, and most of all they wanted a new car with new design. When Preston Tucker unveiled the car that bore his name -- a sleek, voluptuous sedan that featured innovations such as safety glass, seat belts, disc brakes and a third headlight, success seemed imminent. Americans flocked to showrooms to order the Car of Tomorrow, Today. But only 51 Tuckers were manufactured before the Tucker Corporation went bankrupt. The legacy of the visionary inventor is told by the chief auto stylist of the original Tucker Corporation; the president of the Tucker Club of America; Tucker's children; and Francis Ford Coppola, whose film grew out of his own childhood memories of the car his father ordered, but which never arrived. Produced by Davia Nelson for Helen Thorington's New American Radio Series.

Carmen Miranda
Carmen Miranda - 1939
Carmen Miranda: The Life and Fate of the Brazilian Bombshell

Interviews and reminiscenes by Carmen Miranda's sister Aurora, her husband, David Sebastion, her bandleader Aloysio d' Olivera, her friend, composer and driver Sinval Silva, and actor Cesar Romero.archival audio of Mario do Carmo Miranda da Cunha (Carmen Miranda), vintage Portuguese and Brazilian music, and a940's Hollywood musicals create this portrait of Brazil's Ambassador of Samba. Produced by Davia Nelson for Soundprint. Funded by The National Endowment for the Arts

Davia with Carmen Miranda's driver Sinval Silva
Davia with Carmen Miranda's driver Sinval Silva

The Nights of Edith Piaf - 1994
She rose every day at dusk and sang, rehearsed, performed, ate and drank and sang until dawn. Then she slept all day and began to create and unravel again as the sun went down. Nearly every song Edith Piaf sang, and she recorded over 400 of them, was a moment taken from her life in Paris. Piaf would tell her composers a story, or describe a feeling or show them a gesture. And they would put music and lyrics to her pain and passion, giving her back her own musical autobiography. Charles Aznavour, Francis Lai, Georges Moustaki, Henri Contet -- some of France's greatest musicians and composers recall their nights with the "the Little Sparrow". Produced by The Kitchen Sisters for Soundprint.

Davia with Edith Piaf's grave Keeper
Davia with Edith Piaf's grave Keeper

Some of the other stories produced by The Kitchen Sisters include Tupperware, Home Recordings, The Making of Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula & Gardens of Stone, Waiting for Joe DiMaggio, The Musical Saw Festival, The Bing Crosby Clambake, William Everson, The Armory Show, Imogen Cunningham, Comedy Writers, The Japanese Teahouse, El Dia de los Muertos, and Three Radio Stories from Alaska: HubChowder, Kodiak Boxing, The Mail Plane.

The Kitchen Sisters with Kemmons Wilson
The Kitchen Sisters on the road for Lost & Found Sound - Shown here with Kemmons Wilson (founder of Holiday Inns and author of Half Luck And Half Brains) Memphis, 1999

From Lost & Found Sound

  • The Rise and Fall and Rise and Fall and Rise of Thomas Alva Edison - Parts I & II
  • Tony Schwartz: 30,000 Recordings Later
  • Cigar Stories: El Lector, He Who Reads
  • Tennessee Williams: The Pennyland Recordings
  • 21st Century Cylinders
  • A Man with a Horn
  • We Record Anything-Anywhere-Anytime: Sam Phillips & the Early Years of the Memphis Recording Service
  • Electronic Memories: RA Coleman's Memphis
  • WHER: 1000 Beautiful Watts - Part 1
  • WHER: 1000 Beautiful Watts - Part II
  • Walkin Talkin Bill Hawkins: Searching for my Father's Voice
  • House of Night: The Lost Creation Songs of the Mojave People
  • French Manicure - Tales from Vietnamese Nail Shops in America
  • A Man Tapes His Town: The Unrelenting Oral Histories of Eddie McCoy
  • Persuading the Dead: The Persuasions Sing the Grateful Dead
  • Pan American Blues: Radio Stories from Nashville
    Copyright 2001 The Kitchen Sisters