For immediate release
February 29, 2000

NPR's Celebrates Women's History Month

In March 2000, National Public Radio © will celebrate Women's History Month with three special programs. Women featured in these programs were ahead of their time and made a difference by proving that women could excel in a professional environment where they did not have a strong presence. NPR is honored to feature these outstanding women who excelled in their careers as musicians, songwriters, and radio personalities.

For broadcast times in a specific city, contact your local NPR station.

The decades of the 1920's through the 1940's are known as the "Golden Age" of songwriting; however a critical aspect of those years has been overlooked: the contribution of women songwriters. Women like Dorothy Fields and Kay Swift created work that defined and transcended a key area in American life. And though their artistry is known by fellow musicians, most of us would probably be surprised to learn that a woman had a hand in writing "Willow Weep for Me," "You Oughta Be in Pictures," or "I'll Never Smile Again."

"The Women of Tin Pan Alley" was recorded live at the Algonquin Hotel in New York City. Host Liane Hansen of National Public Radio's Weekend Edition Sunday is joined by some of the country's top cabaret performers; William Bolcom and Joan Morris, Mary Cleere Haran and Richard Rodney Bennett and Peter Minton talk about and perform songs by Kay Swift, Dana Suesse, Dorothy Fields, and Ann Ronell.

When "Music For Peace", the third Mass composed by jazz legend Mary Lou Williams made its debut in 1970, the country was in need of such a work - embroiled in turmoil, consumed with racial tension and anti-Vietnam sentiment. However, the Mass, now known as "Mary Lou's Mass" was not heard for nearly thirty years.

Fortunately, in 1999, a talented assemblage of Williams' admirers, including conductor Dave Baker, vocalist Carmen Lundy, and pianist Marian McPartland, gathered at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC to revive the Mass for a new generation. Williams infused the Mass with rhythms of bossa nova, samba, soul jazz and blues. It includes such moving sections such as "I Have a Dream," inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King, and "Lazarus."

NPR is proud to offer a special one-hour version of the remarkable two-part "Lost and Found Sound" specials about WHER, the first "All-Girl" radio station in the world. Originally aired on All Things Considered, the pieces have been updated with new material and are supplemented by an expanded website,

"WHER: 1000 Beautiful Watts" recounts the story of WHER AM 1430: its beginning in 1955 in Memphis in the third Holiday Inn ever built; the surprise of listeners who heard women leading a broadcast for the first time; the roles of the women who played the records, managed the station, and reported the news. The piece includes rare broadcasts from WHER's seventeen-year history, from as well as contemporary interviews with a dozen members of the station staff. NPR's Susan Stamberg will host the show. The Kitchen Sisters - Davia Nelson and Nikki Silva with Valerie Velardi, produce it. Lost & Found Sound™ is a national collaboration funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Renowned for its journalistic excellence and standard-setting news, information, and cultural programming, NPR serves a growing audience of 14.6 million Americans each week via 625 public radio stations. NPR also distributes programming to listeners in Europe, Asia, Australia and Africa via NPR Worldwidesm, to military installations overseas via American Forces Network and throughout Japan via cable.