Howard University Student Jazz Singers: NPR

Nine music majors at Howard University in Washington, D.C. are also part of the school’s AfroBlue vocal jazz ensemble. Michele Norris chats with the band’s manager, Know Miller, and listens to the students demonstrate “crispy” harmonies on a familiar tune, as well as soft chords on a cappella versions of “Surrey with a fringe on top” and “Sometimes I’m happy”.


Now let’s get to some of your emails.


The first in our two-part series on polygamy in the American Muslim community brought its share of emails. Here is one from Jack Cammer(ph). It’s not the jackhammer – we checked – from Halethorpe, Maryland.

NORRIS: Once again you make me feel that your show should be called ALL THINGS VIEWED from a woman’s perspective, Mr. Cammer writes. It is true that the Muslim practice of allowing a man to take up to four wives can be a problem for women. How come it escapes you that every man with four wives can also be a problem for three men? How about a report on Muslim polygamy from the perspective of these men?

ADAMS: And Alma Arnoe (ph) from Boston had this to say: As a woman, I think some additional context would have been helpful. In the Koran, Arnoe continues, polygamy is reserved as a means of caring for children in extremis. And even that is discouraged. It is expressly not a way for men to improve their status or have fun at the expense of women, although it is a common abuse of this religion by male-dominated societies in some parts of the world.

NORRIS: In another story yesterday, Robert Sigel spoke with author Salman Rushdie about his latest novel, ‘The Enchantress of Florence’. Rushdie said previous death threats against him had an unintended consequence.

MR SALMAN RUSHDIE (Author): And because, you know, the threat against me was mysterious, theological and unfunny, one assumes that I must be mysterious, theological and unfunny. And I think that puts people off. When I go around the country giving talks at colleges and so forth, every time I do, somebody comes up to me and says who knew you’d be funny.

(Excerpt from laughter)

ADAMS: Gale Lord of Chicago writes, Mr. Rushdie, don’t worry about people thinking you’re not funny, anyone who saw you in the movie “Bridget Jones’s Diary” knows you’re cool.

NORRIS: And finally on Monday we aired my interview with Howard University’s vocal jazz ensemble, Afro Blue.

(Soundbite of the song “Surrey with the Fringe on Top”)

M. BOWENS: (Singing) Snoopers will peek through their shutters and their eyes will open.

AFRO BLUE: (Singing) The wheels are yellow, the upholstery is brown. The genuine leather of the dashboard, with glass silk curtains, you can ride…

NORRIS: Rough Barontine Trulac(ph) of Fort Lauderdale writes: Normally, I only write when I quibble, complain or whine about something I’ve heard on one of your programs.

ADAMS: But today, he continues, I am writing to thank you for the wonderful extended functionality on the excellent AfroBlue. What a great feature and so thorough. Now I can go back to my regular schedule quibbling, complaining or moaning.

NORRIS: Oh, that’s too bad because it was such a fun interview to do. Whether it’s a quibble, a complaint or a whine, we always love to hear from you. You can go to our website

ADAMS: And please let us know where you’re writing from and how you pronounce your name.

(Soundbite from the song, “Sometimes I’m Happy”)

AFRO BLUE: (Singing) I’m happy, sometimes I’m blue. My temperament depends.

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