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Stories for Music Lovers

Music is truly a universal language. It has the unique ability to connect us with new cultures, to inspire wide change and protests, and in turn it expands our hearts. Here at StoryCorps, we have recorded many stories about music’s impact on our lives. Listen to some of our favorites.

Do you or a loved one have a musical story to tell? Just download the StoryCorps App to record your conversation and upload it directly to the Archive, housed at the Library of Congress. Or, if an in-person interview isn’t possible, use StoryCorps Connect to conduct it remotely.


story
"When you and I communicate with each other, we can do it by beats."
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A Father-Daughter Beatboxing Duo on Making Music

Ed Cage and Nicole Paris are a father-daughter beatboxing duo. During the 1980s, Ed immersed himself in the St. Louis hip hop scene and fell in love with beatboxing. Fast-forward a couple decades and that love is now firmly planted in 26-year-old Nicole as well.


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“How do you feel when you hear dad's songs being played on the radio nowadays?”
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“There Was Always Music In The House”: Memories Of Luis M. Moreno, A Father And Prolific Songwriter

Luis M. Moreno is and his wife Carmen were famous for the Mexican folk music they performed on the radio and in venues throughout the Los Angeles area. His daughters share their memories of growing up surrounded by music, and the bittersweet legacy that their father left behind.


podcast
It All Starts With A Song
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It All Starts With A Song

Everyone’s heard of James Brown and Stevie Wonder, but how about the women who helped make them who they are? Get to know the unsung icons behind some of the most iconic music.


story
“He could take something mundane like that and see the magic in it.”
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A Spoonful Of Sugar: How A Vaccine Inspired A Disney Classic

Robert and Richard Sherman, also known as The Sherman Brothers, were a songwriting duo behind many of Walt Disney’s classic films. When Robert’s child shared his experience getting a vaccine, it sparked the creation of one of the most famous songs in the American canon.


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“When you get musicians cooking on the bandstand, the hair goes up on the back of your neck..”
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How An Unexpected Deportation Cut A Young Musician’s Career Short

From the first moment he played the drums at 12 years old, Decio Rubano got “the bug” and couldn’t stop making music. After high school, his career as a drummer was taking off until one night, when he was visiting his grandparents, a pair of immigration officers knocked on the door.


story
"At three years of age, you walked over to the piano, and you just started playing."
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“At three years of age, you walked over to the piano, and you just started playing.”

In 2001, Daniel Hodd was a 17-year-old promising concert pianist with a scholarship offer from Juilliard; he also wanted to join the U.S. Marine Corps. He remembers the choice he made, and the more difficult decision he made after breaking his fingers in an accident just before he was scheduled to deploy.


podcast
The Voice For My Song
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The Voice For My Song

What happens when paralyzing fear stops you from following your dream? Jim Von Stein has written 8000 songs, but almost nobody has heard a single one of them…


story
"I’d be willing to trade you this old guitar for a bottle of whiskey."
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How a Family Guitar Found its Way Home

Roger McDaniel’s dad, Johnny, worked over the years as a miner and milk truck driver, married and divorced Rodger’s mother three times—and he loved music.

After getting his dad’s guitar back, Roger tried to learn how to play without much success. It sat in his closet for years—until he got a guitar player for a son-in-law. 


Want to listen to more StoryCorps stories? Sign up for our Story of the Week newsletter to discover a new voice every week.

Building Trust, Connecting Dots in Richmond: Meet Frazier Armstrong

There’s a new, yet familiar face on the One Small Step Richmond team. Really familiar. In fact, you might say that Frazier Armstrong is akin to Richmond’s Kevin Bacon: if you don’t know her, chances are you know people who do. All of which make Frazier the perfect addition to the local team, especially in her role as a Community Chair or “dot connector,” relationship-maker, or—as she likes to call herself —“curator.” Frazier, a Richmond transplant since 1979 from Southside Virginia, has been on the front lines of community initiatives for most of her professional life. A former journalist, who spent eight years at The Richmond Times-Dispatch, she likes to think of herself as a strategist, helping breathe life into new ideas, while connecting just the right people to make those ideas happen. If she had a superpower, she muses, it would be to cut through chaos to get to impactful, clear outcomes. And all of that starts with engendering trust.

Let’s meet Frazier Armstrong…

As you work to help raise the community’s awareness of One Small Step, what’s on your plate?

Frazier: One of the current areas of opportunity that we’re really excited about is our partnership with the Library of Virginia. The public can sign up for an in-person, moderated conversation at the library between October 2-6 and it’s a perfect way for the library to celebrate their 200th [anniversary]. 

We’re also looking at convening locals in a format we’re calling “Dining Over Differences,” which organizes discussions around meals with folks sitting around the table. The first one went quite well, so we’re looking to do more of those kinds of events. We’ve got some strong advocates in some of the law firms in town where we’ve done presentations. And every time you do a presentation, it opens another door, so there’s momentum building. We’re even starting to ask what comes after One Small Step, what Chris Norris on the team calls the “small steps that follow.” We’re interested in identifying more community events and forums that might make sense for us to participate in.

Why have you decided to get involved in One Small Step in this capacity?

Frazier: I think the whole idea of One Small Step, of literally looking somebody in the face who has different political beliefs, offers a tremendous window of humanity. It’s an opportunity to relate to each other with our best selves and to look intentionally for things that we have in common, rather than those things that divide us. I do believe that it takes “one small step.” I mean, it is aptly named. And I’ve seen it make a difference. I’ve done it myself and clearly, I’m a believer. I would not have jumped into this without feeling pretty passionate about the program and its potential to bring people together. 

I worry about what’s happening in communities where there is no local paper or media outlet that connects people in ways that help them understand that there are other things in life that matter. You can be a conservative or a liberal, but people still get married, have babies, and serve on school boards. These are the threads that tie us together. I think what happens sometimes is we get inundated by big news megaphones—this is happening over here and this is happening over there—so we only hear these big issues that are divisive, and we just retreat to corners, and we get angrier. We become more sure that we’re right and they’re wrong.

Participating in OSS has an almost immediate impact. And it spreads fast. I’ve talked to people who come out of these conversations going, “Oh, my gosh, everybody should do this.” And everybody should. You can create that drumbeat and help people understand that they can look at each other and have a civil conversation about things that matter to them as humans.

Welcome to the team, Frazier!

Want to connect? Send her an email at [email protected].

Meeting in the Middle: How Two OSS Conversation Partners Found Common Ground

It’s easy for Benita Conde to remember the moment she learned about One Small Step (OSS). Seated in the audience in the auditorium at the Virginia Museum of History and Culture, Benita heard StoryCorps Founder and President Dave Isay share the news about a new initiative: OSS — a chance for folks with different political beliefs to get to know each other, not as partisan opponents based on how they vote, but as people who define themselves by their families and hobbies and interests: everything that makes us human.

Right away, Benita knew she was in. “I’m someone who likes to raise my hand,” says the Minnesota native. “And as a life coach, I’ve done a lot of my own self-development work. Whenever there’s an intersection of pushing through a discomfort — one that feels more exciting than fear based — I’m always someone who says yes. That feels intuitively right.”

At first, Benita was looking forward to the upcoming conversation with her OSS co-participant in much the same way she regarded her client conversations, noting that she had no trepidations about it at all. But as the appointed hour grew closer, a sense of unease started to creep in. In the back of her mind, she began to ponder if this match of two ostensibly polar opposites could really bridge divides. All she knew was that her fellow participant was male, about a half generation older, and lived in a part of town where her husband had several clients. 

“I wondered if there might be misunderstanding and some tension that we wouldn’t connect as humans, and that it would be a hard conversation,” she remembers. “It’s the human experience that holds us back from just about everything.”

But almost immediately, the two connected. “I think we both surprised each other,” she says. “We are literally almost in the same place in terms of how we view what’s going on in our country politically, even though we had come from predominantly different experiences in our lives.”

She notes that she was raised Republican by conservative parents in the Minneapolis suburbs but that her politics — as well as those of her parents — began leaning leftward over the years.

“Something similar had happened to John, my conversation partner,” Benita says. “He was evolving and changing through the eyes of his children.”

While OSS conversations are not meant to be a forum for political debate, many OSS conversations touch on politics and Benita says that John felt compelled to share his political evolution from the outset.

“He said, ‘I have to tell you about this experience that happened to me. January 6 happened. I woke up. I don’t believe in violence as a way to create change,’” recounts Bonita.

 She believes that that middle ground is where a great many Americans reside, and her OSS conversation validated that perception, at least anecdotally. 

“I just get the sense that we are not more divided as the media and social media tend to make us think we are,” Benita says. “There’s a huge swath of middle, isn’t there?”

Middle ground or not, it’s simply having those conversations that can make such a difference.

“I think walking through our life experiences, which I think is such a powerful aspect of One Small Step, you’re really prompted and directed to gently move through the process in a way that promotes just talking about being a human,” Benita says.

Stories to Celebrate Atlanta

Atlanta is a vibrant city with an important history to tell. From the echoes of civil rights activism that shaped the course of history, to the sweet whispers of love that found a home in these streets, our collection holds thousands of heartfelt exchanges. Listen to some cherished stories gathered from the heart of this remarkable city through our Atlanta Storybooth.

Learn more about StoryCorps in Atlanta.

Want more?

Want to listen to more StoryCorps stories? Sign up for our Story of the Week newsletter to discover a new voice every week.

Pulled Into A Historic Flash Flood, One Man Saves a Stranger’s Life

In September 2009, after several days of heavy rain, the Atlanta metropolitan area suffered intense flash flooding. Zack Stephney came to StoryCorps with his friend Melissa Brooks a few months after the flood to remember the unique circumstances of how they met that day.


story
"You're like a little piece of Mommy on Earth."
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Siblings Lovingly Remember Their Mother Who Passed Away

When Alice’s mom passed away she was immediately forced to become both sister and mother to her younger brother, Ibukunoluwa. She took the lead in raising him the way she believed her mother would have wanted him brought up. Over the years, Ibukunoluwa has seen pictures and heard stories about his mother, and he talks with Alice for the first time about losing her.


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"I thought that this was going to be a recipe for disaster."
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An Unexpected Invitation That Led to A Life of Love

Octavius Humphries and Seth Smiley had their first date on Christmas Eve. Unsure of Octavius’ plans for the holiday, Seth invited him to dinner the next night at his family’s Atlanta home. Octavius, who was still grieving the deaths of his parents, reluctantly accepted Seth’s invitation.

The two of them sat down to remember their first Christmas together, as well as a more recent memorable holiday event.


story
“For their peace of mind and our safety, we could go no further than the front yard.”
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In A House Full of Rules, Cousins Remember A Rare Glimpse of Freedom

In the early 1980s, Monica Jordan and her family moved to Atlanta where she met her cousin, LaTonya Walker. With two moms raising the girls under one roof, there were plenty of rules, but Monica and LaTonya dreamed of the day where they could spend a day doing whatever they wanted. And one particular afternoon, that’s exactly what they did


story
“I had a child to raise and I just could not die right then.”
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Against the Law, He Saved Lives During the AIDS Epidemic 

At Grady Hospital in Atlanta, Christopher Harris recorded his memories from the early days of the AIDS epidemic. Harris remembered how he came to work with the Atlanta Buyers Club, which distributed medications from the black market to people with HIV before the drugs had been approved by the FDA.


story
"I'd heard lines like this before, but this time it was different."
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A Couple Recounts What Brought them Together in an Atlanta Hospital 

Winslow Jackson met his wife, Dorothy, in 2006. He was divorced. She was widowed. And they both had Multiple Sclerosis. While receiving rehabilitative care at an Atlanta hospital, they connected. The couple remembered what drew them to each other.


story
“Look where you want to go, not what you're trying to avoid.”
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A Mile in Her Shoes: How A Polio Survivor Forged Her Own Path

Shirley Duhart contracted polio when she was 2 years old, just five years before the vaccine was released. While her doctors recommended she wear flat, well-balanced shoes, Shirley has been wearing pumps since she was thirteen. She talks to her longtime doctor, Dale Strasser, about why her shoes mean so much to her.


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"All of a sudden Dr. King drove down the street..."
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Driving for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 

In 1965, Tom Houck was a high school senior when he decided to drop out of school and join the fight for civil rights. Soon after his arrival in Atlanta, Tom was invited to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.s’ home for lunch and was asked to become the family’s driver.


He broke stereotypes and stood up for rights of his community 

William “Bill” Gripp speaks with his friend Christine Tigue about growing up gay and becoming involved in gay politics at the Atlanta Gay Center. From the StoryCorps Archive.

Want to listen to more StoryCorps stories? Sign up for our Story of the Week newsletter to discover a new voice every week.


Do you want to have a conversation like these with someone you love? Just download the StoryCorps App to record your conversation and upload it directly to the Archive, housed at the Library of Congress. Or, if an in-person interview isn’t possible, use StoryCorps Connect to conduct it remotely.