Category: Radio

Best of 2011: Siddhartha Mitter

Soundcheck, WNYC Radio, December 22, 2011 This week’s year-in-review special continues with Siddhartha Mitter, a music journalist who contributes to the Boston Globe, MTV Iggy, MTV Desi and other outlets. Siddhartha Mitter’s list: Three Great Songs: Frank Ocean, “Novacane” Musiq Soulchild, “Yes” SBTRKT featuring Sampha, “Hold On” World Music that Isn’t “World Music”: Chamber Music (album) […]

Revival of the fittest?

Soundcheck, WNYC Radio, September 29, 2010 Acts like Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings and Eli (Paperboy) Reed present a soul sound that some cast as throwbacks to the sixties and seventies. Writer Siddhartha Mitter says that these revival acts walk a fine line between homage and pastiche. But New Yorker critic Sasha-Frere Jones, once a skeptic, says that they’re moving […]

The Decade in Jazz and World Music

Soundcheck, WNYC Radio, December 16, 2009 We continue our Critics’ Week coverage of the decade in music with a look at the best of world music and jazz. Siddhartha Mitter, world music critic for the Boston Globe, and Will Layman, jazz critic for, give us their picks for the decade that was.

From book arts, a fresh look at fraught issues

WNYC News, July 30, 2009 Print journalism may be in trouble, but print in the arts is alive and well, and it’s taking on social issues. An exhibition up now uses “book arts” – artworks based on print and the printed word – to take on race and racism in some new and sometimes humorous […]

Your cheatin’ heart

Soundcheck, WNYC, July 10, 2009 In politics, an extra-marital affair can jeopardize a career. But in music, cheating is the subject of some of the most popular songs ever, from Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” to the Eagles’ “Lyin’ Eyes” to TLC’s “Creep.” (Don’t get us started on operas. OK, do.) We […]

Love for Michael Jackson knows no time or color

WNYC News, July 1, 2009 Spontaneous celebrations of Michael Jackson have gone on in the streets since his death last Thursday, but yesterday was the official tribute at the Apollo Theater in Harlem and New Yorkers came out en masse. WNYC’s Siddhartha Mitter was there.

News that inspires: Xaviera Simmons

WNYC News, June 23, 2009 A Brooklyn artist sees beauty in some of the harrowing images she finds in the news – such as the plight of African migrants escaping to Europe. WNYC’s Siddhartha Mitter caught up with her.

Five women artists, five takes on Islam

WNYC News, June 5, 2009 Islam is in the air – from Barack Obama’s big speech, to a festival in New York this month of Muslim arts and ideas. Among those voices are five young women artists who have a show at the Museum of Contemporary African Diaspora Art in Brooklyn. WNYC’s Siddhartha Mitter spoke […]

FLY: Five first ladies of dance

WNYC News, May 29, 2009 Five black women at the top of their field. Germaine Acogny, Carmen de Lavallade, Dianne McIntyre, Bebe Miller and Jawole Willa Jo Zollar are dancer-choreographers who are pioneers in the dance world. They perform this weekend in a rare program of solo pieces, at the Kumble Theatre in Brooklyn.

Sculptor Elizabeth Catlett

WNYC News, May 21, 2009 Sharecroppers, laborers, mothers and their children — these people have captured the imagination of sculptor Elizabeth Catlett for over 40 years. Catlett talked about her life and work at the Museum of Modern Art earlier this week and WNYC’s Siddhartha Mitter was there.

All-night Indian music concert

WNYC News, May 14, 2007 Even the most obsessive music lover might think twice about a concert that lasted more than 3 or 4 hours. But in Indian music, all-night concerts that run from dusk to dawn are highly appreciated. This weekend some of India’s most revered musicians played all night at St John the […]

Made in Newark: The local art scene

WNYC News, May 14, 2009 In Newark, New Jersey, a local arts scene is thriving away from the Manhattan spotlight. This evening, Newark’s Aljira Gallery celebrates its 25th anniversary. For the last decade Aljira has hosted a program for emerging artists. WNYC’s Siddhartha Mitter spoke with some of them.

A summit of Japanese costume roleplay in Brooklyn

WNYC News, May 1, 2009 More than a thousand people are expected to gather this weekend under the cherry blossoms at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. They won’t be there to smell the flowers—they’ll be there to pose as their favorite Japanese cartoon characters. WNYC’s Siddhartha Mitter asks why.

The French Caribbean: Cosmopolitan, colonial, complicated

Afropop Worldwide, April 2009 Produced by Siddhartha Mitter. Follow link for audio. In the music of the French Antilles – the islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe – you can hear influences that range from the traditional bèlè and gwo ka drumming of the islands’ rural communities, to European additions like polka and French chanson. But […]

An all-female take on graffiti

WNYC News, April 29, 2009 Graffiti art has as much of a following in the gallery world as it does on the streets. And, a new show in Williamsburg is presenting graffiti with a twist. In a genre dominated by men, this show is all female. WNYC’s Siddhartha Mitter reports.

The record store experience in the era of digital downloads

WNYC News, April 18, 2009 Saturday is Record Store Day, a day of events and promotions at independent record stores around the country and overseas. If you sense a hint of desperation it’s because the rise of digital downloads has pushed a lot of record stores out of business. So what’s happened to the record […]

Bed-Stuy Meadow

WNYC News, April 13, 2009 In a few weeks wild flowers will sprout up all over Bedford-Stuyvesant. That’s the hope of activists who sowed the flowers over the weekend on untended land in the Brooklyn neighborhood. But the environmental project also raised questions — about how to organize community action in a changing neighborhood.

Fly Girlz

WNYC News, April 7, 2009 It’s a time-honored way to cope with the stress of growing up in a tough neighborhood: you make music about it. A group of girls from Brownsville are telling their story, with a little help from some new friends.

Vietnam remembered in poetry and jazz

WNYC Radio, April 1, 2009 On this first day of Poetry Month, Pulitzer prize-winning poet Yusef Komunyakaa meets up with jazz violinist Billy Bang. They’re both veterans who have used their art to deal with painful memories.

New take on Indian classical music

WNYC News, March 9, 2009 Classical music jumped across continents this weekend. The two-week festival that celebrated the opening of the new Alice Tully Hall came to a close with a concert that showcased a new take on Indian classical music. WNYC’s Siddhartha Mitter was there.

Fashion Week… recycled

WNYC News, February 23, 2009 Fashion week wrapped up late last week, but as the designers measure their success and the models move on to the next chic venue, discarded runways and backdrops are getting put to good use. WNYC’s Siddhartha Mitter reports on one woman’s quest to rescue leftover materials from the dumpster, and […]

The making of an icon

Studio 360, WNYC, January 16, 2009 Art played a bigger role in this presidential election than ever before. Especially that heroic red-white-and-blue image of Barack Obama. You know the one. It’s by a street artist named Shepard Fairey. WNYC’s Siddhartha Mitter talked to him and some other Obama image makers, who confessed that victory puts them in a […]

Standing on the shoulders of giants

WNYC News, January 5, 2009 For the last fourteen years, Russell Goings has been writing about big and small characters in African American history. Now, he’s created a long epic poem meant to match the Iliad, or the tale of Gilgamesh. WNYC’s Siddhartha Mitter reports.

That neo-hoodoo that you do

WNYC News, November 15, 2008 “Neo-Hoodoo: Art for a Forgotten Faith” is the title of an exhibition that’s running at PS 1 in Queens until January 26th. Poet Quincy Troupe is reading at the museum Saturday. Troupe says what was once forgotten is now remembered. WNYC’s Siddhartha Mitter spoke with him.

What the Left thinks of “socialism”

WNYC News, October 31, 2008 The last few weeks of turmoil on the financial markets and all the talk of bailouts and rescue plans has brought government intervention in the economy to the forefront of debate in a way it hasn’t been in a long time. But there are some who have been advocating alternatives to […]

From soccer pitch to silver screen

WNYC News, October 29, 2008 French athlete Zinedine Zidane is a star on the soccer field… and now on the big screen. “Zidane” the film is running this week only at BAM and at Anthology Film Archives. WNYC’s Siddhartha Mitter has these observations on the way soccer becomes a work of art.

Poking fun at Palin

WNYC News, October 2, 2008 Gov. Sarah Palin arrives at the vice presidential debate tonight as a near-overnight celebrity. But with her interviews few and far between, a lot of what we know about her – or what we think about her – has been supplied by comedians. WNYC’s Siddhartha Mitter takes a look at […]

Life and work of Mahmoud Darwish remembered

WNYC News, September 29, 2008 The Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish, who died in August, was considered the most distinguished literary voice of his community. So much so, in fact, that he received a state funeral from the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah. Last week Darwish’s New York admirers got together to celebrate his work. WNYC’s Siddhartha […]

Armory show explores “Democracy in America”

WNYC News, September 24, 2008 “Democracy in America” — it’s a big agenda and it’s also the title of a show up this week at the Park Avenue Armory. There’s work from more than 40 artists — taking on the political issues of our time. WNYC’s Siddhartha Mitter checked it out and has this report.

An intimate look at Ramadan

WNYC News, September 22, 2008 Muslims are midway through the holy month of Ramadan, with its obligation to fast every day from sunrise to sunset. This year Ramadan falls in a busy season, with kids going back to school and not much room for time off. WNYC’s Siddhartha Mitter spent a recent Ramadan evening in […]

DJ legend on a dancefloor mission

WNYC News, August 19, 2008 He’s a legendary DJ from even before the days of disco. Now Brooklyn’s own Nicky Siano has returned — on a mission — to bring the soul back to the dance floor. WNYC’s Siddhartha Mitter reports.

At Willets Point, resistance and resignation

WNYC News, August 12, 2008 Even by Bloomberg Administration standards, rebuilding Willets Point in Queens is a massive development project. This summer, the city proposal to tear down the industrial district near Shea Stadium, known for its auto repair shops, and build housing, retail and a convention center has been steadily clearing hurdles. At the […]

Diaspora encounters: the Indo-Caribbean world

Afropop Worldwide, July 31, 2008 Produced by Siddhartha Mitter. Follow link for audio. Competition between communities of Indian and African descent has been a mainstay of politics and culture in the former British colonies of Trinidad and Tobago, and Guyana.  This rivalry plays out in institutions from the University of the West Indies to the […]

Fab pre-fab buildings

WNYC News, July 18, 2008 With all the anxiety about mortgages and foreclosures, you might forget another part of the housing crisis: The need for affordable new housing in many parts of the country. A new exhibition at MoMA shows how some architects are working with prefabricated housing to come up with new housing solutions. […]

On Brooklyn’s black heritage

WNYC News, June 18, 2008 When gentrification comes to a neighborhood it isn’t just the residents who can feel like like they’re being pushed away. It’s also the local history. So how can a community’s past contribute to its future? WNYC’s Siddhartha Mitter reports from Bedford-Stuvesant.

Art and satire in Iran

WNYC News, May 24, 2008 “Ardeshir Mohassess: Art and Satire in Iran” is the first major U.S. retrospective of Mohassess’s work. The self-taught artist presents 70 monochromatic ink drawings that comment on Iran’s social, political and cultural life before and after the 1979 revolution.

The South comes up North

WNYC News, May 30, 2008 Up from the Deep South… all the way to Brooklyn. A two-week festival is underway that celebrates the culture of the Mississippi Delta. WNYC’s Siddhartha Mitter reflects on the birthplace of the blues.

International artists trek to East Williamsburg

WNYC News, May 9, 2008 The East Williamsburg industrial area is one of the remaining manufacturing districts in the city. But, it’s also the latest refuge for arts organizations and artists fleeing high rents in Manhattan. WNYC’s Siddhartha Mitter reports on a group of international artists who are making the neighborhood their base.

A walk down 125th Street

WNYC News, April 25, 2008 Changes are coming to 125th Street. Plans to rezone Harlem’s main artery look headed for approval in the city council, after a compromise to limit the height of new buildings to 19 stories. The amount of affordable housing in the plan has also been increased. While the look of 125th […]

Iraqi musician in New York

WNYC News, March 19, 2008 Five years after the US invasion of Iraq, an Iraqi-American musician is preserving the classical music of Baghdad here in New York. WNYC’s Siddhartha Mitter reports.

Arab music thrives in New York

WNYC News, March 10, 2008 A major festival of Arab music is taking place in Brooklyn all this month. After 9/11 there were fears that funding and opportunities for Arab artists would dry up. Siddhartha Mitter reports on the thriving scene for Arab music in New York.

Campaign theme songs, a tough balance

WNYC News, February 2, 2008 It’s not exactly the Grammys, but as the presidential field winnows down, so does the list of campaign theme songs that might – come November – be crowned the Winning Presidential Anthem of 2008. WNYC’s Siddhartha Mitter evaluates the contenders.

Dr. King’s impact on political oratory

WNYC News, January 20, 2008 In this election year, political oratory is back in the spotlight. WNYC’s Siddhartha Mitter sat down with one of New York’s best known orators to talk about the art of the speech forty years after Dr. Martin Luther King.

A gang’s-eye view of the Bronx streets

WNYC News, January 9, 2008 Street gangs have always been a part of life in New York City; in some neighborhoods they’re a constant fact of life. WNYC’s Siddhartha Mitter spent time in the Bronx with a teenager to get a street level view.

From the Philippines to upstate

WNYC News, December 14, 2007 Two percussionists, making a life together and building a family to the rhythm of dozens of drums. She is Filipino-American, he is Cuban-American and they make music that combines both their cultures – and many others. WNYC’s Siddhartha Mitter spent time with Susie Ibarra and Roberto Rodriguez for our ongoing […]

Singing for life: HIV/AIDS and music in Uganda

Afropop Worldwide, November 15, 2007 Produced by Siddhartha Mitter. Follow link for audio. In just fifteen years, Uganda lowered its HIV/AIDS infection rate from 30% to just 5%. The life-saving information was best channeled by grassroots theater groups, and especially, women’s choirs who turned health advice, sometimes blended with religion, into entertainment that could move […]

New York’s Muslims celebrate Eid al-Fitr

WNYC News, October 13, 2007 This weekend the Muslim world celebrates Eid. The holiday marks the end of Ramadan and is a high point in the Islamic calendar. In New York, many of the city’s Muslims will gather today for festive meals with family and friends. WNYC’s Siddhartha Mitter reports.