Elizabeth Blair

Elizabeth Blair is a Senior Producer/Reporter on the Arts Desk of NPR News.

On a daily basis, she produces, edits and reports arts and cultural segments that air on NPR News magazines including Morning Edition and All Things Considered. Her recent stories explored the rise of public humiliation in popular culture, consumers' changing media habits and the intersection of the arts and education.

In this position that she has held since 2003, Blair's varied work has included profiles of actor Neil Patrick Harris, rapper K'Naan, and the band Pearl Jam. She has written and produced long-form documentaries on such cultural icons as Paul Robeson and Billie Holiday. Blair oversaw the production of some of NPR's most popular special projects including "50 Great Voices," the NPR series on awe-inspiring voices from around the world and across time in, and the "In Character" series which explored famous American fictional characters.

Over the years, Blair has received several honors for her work including two Peabody Awards and a Gracie.

For three and a half years, Blair lived in Paris, France, where she co-produced Le Jazz Club From Paris with Dee Dee Bridgewater, and the monthly magazine Postcard From Paris.

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1:20am

Thu July 18, 2013
Code Switch

Comedian Hari Kondabolu On Diversity, Race And Burger King

Originally published on Thu July 18, 2013 1:20 pm

Hari Kondabolu is a brainy comedian who cuts through the polite talk around race and gender. He's made a lot of key people laugh with his incisive anecdotes, including Jimmy Kimmel, Conan O'Brien and John Oliver.

A full-time writer on the FX show Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell, he recently did a comedy bit on the National Spelling Bee, or "as I like to call it," he joked, "the Indian Super Bowl."

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4:04pm

Thu July 11, 2013
The Record

Toshi Seeger, Wife Of Folk Singer Pete Seeger, Dies At 91

Originally published on Thu July 11, 2013 4:30 pm

Toshi Seeger with her husband, folk singer Pete Seeger, in 2009.
Bennett Raglin Getty Images

Anyone who worked closely with Pete Seeger knew the legendary folk singer's wife. For seven decades, Toshi Seeger organized his festivals and handled his travel and correspondence. The social activist died Tuesday. She was 91.

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1:39am

Tue May 28, 2013
Art & Design

Plans For Smithsonian Museum 'Bubble' May Have Burst

Originally published on Tue May 28, 2013 8:04 am

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden proposed adding a giant, inflatable structure that would balloon out of its top and side.
Roger L. Wollenberg UPI/Landov

Call it the Smithsonian's bubble problem. One of the Smithsonian museums — the Hirshhorn museum for contemporary art — came up with an ambitious new design to add more space: Why not build a giant, inflatable structure that would be big enough for people to walk around in?

But some of the Smithsonian's trustees in Washington, D.C., haven't been blown away by the bubble.

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3:15pm

Thu May 23, 2013
The Record

Georges Moustaki, Who Wrote Songs For Edith Piaf, Dies

Originally published on Thu May 23, 2013 6:23 pm

Georges Moustaki with Edith Piaf in New York in 1958. Moustaki wrote the lyrics to "Milord," one of Piaf's biggest hits.
Keystone-France Getty Images

Georges Moustaki, one of France's most beloved songwriters, died Thursday in Nice after a long illness. He was 79. Moustaki was known for infusing French song with sounds from around the world.

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3:50pm

Fri May 17, 2013
Code Switch

'Venus And Serena': An Extraordinary Story, Told On Film

Originally published on Fri May 17, 2013 4:52 pm

Serena (right) and Venus Williams pose with their gold medals during the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Stefan Wermuth Reuters/Landov

It's Cinderella plus Jackie Robinson times two. When Venus and Serena Williams burst onto the lily-white world of tennis, they changed the game and made history: They were sisters. From a poor neighborhood. Who brought unprecedented power to the game. And both reached No. 1.

Their journey is the subject of a new documentary called Venus and Serena, showing in select theaters around the country.

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12:41pm

Thu April 18, 2013
Education

In D.C., Art Program Turns Boys' Lives Into 'Masterpieces'

Originally published on Thu April 18, 2013 8:26 pm

Life Pieces to Masterpieces is an arts program that serves the neighborhood of Ward 7 in Washington, D.C. Boys work with mentors to create works of art.
Lizzie Chen NPR

This is the third in a three-part series about the intersection of education and the arts.

Life Pieces to Masterpieces is an arts program that's not entirely about the art. It's an after-school program based in a struggling neighborhood in Washington, D.C., that teaches black boys and young men what they call "the four C's": "Connect, create, contribute, celebrate." From ages 3-25, they learn to express themselves by conceiving their paintings together. And those paintings will often reflect what's going on in their lives.

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3:37pm

Wed April 17, 2013
Education

More Than 50 Years Of Putting Kids' Creativity To The Test

Originally published on Thu April 18, 2013 3:30 pm

E. Paul Torrance, shown here in the mid-'80s, spent most of his career studying and encouraging students' creativity.
Courtesy University of Georgia

This is the second in a three-part series about the intersection of education and the arts.

Let's start with a question from a standardized test: "How would the world be different if we all had a third eye in the back of our heads?"

It's not a typical standardized question, but as part of the Next Generation Creativity Survey, it's used to help measure creativity a bit like an IQ test measures intelligence. And it's not the only creativity test out there.

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10:48pm

Sun March 17, 2013
Theater

Familiar Folks Make Up A Play's 'Good People'

Originally published on Mon March 18, 2013 10:38 am

Johanna Day as Margie and Andrew Long as Mike in the recent Arena Stage production of David Lindsay-Abaire's Good People. The childhood friends drift apart as their lives take on very different socioeconomic dimensions.
Margot Schulman Arena Stage

How we end up in life has a lot to do with where we came from. That theory gets a good workout in the play Good People, from Pulitzer Prize-winner David Lindsay-Abaire. When the show was on Broadway two years ago, the trade magazine Variety proclaimed that "If Good People isn't a hit, there is no justice in the land."

As it turns out, justice has been served: Good People is the most produced play in America this theatrical season. By the end of this summer, it will have been on stage in 17 different cities.

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5:58pm

Mon February 4, 2013
World

In Moscow, Scandals Shake A Storied Ballet

Originally published on Tue February 5, 2013 11:47 am

Sergei Filin, artistic director of the Moscow Bolshoi Theatre's Bolshoi Ballet, was nearly blinded by an attacker on Jan. 17.
Yuri Kadobnov AFP/Getty Images

It's a story right out of the movies: The artistic director of one of the most prestigious ballet companies in the world is violently attacked. His attacker and the motive are shrouded in mystery. But behind these sensational headlines is a ballet company that is both legendary and plagued with scandals and infighting.

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2:10pm

Fri February 1, 2013
Media

For Super Bowl Ads, More Social-Media Savvy

Originally published on Fri February 1, 2013 5:17 pm

Deutsch LA

12:46am

Fri January 25, 2013
Movies

For Would-Be Sundancers, Kickstarter Can Fuel Films

Originally published on Fri January 25, 2013 7:14 am

A scene from 99% — The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film, a Sundance documentary that raised more than $23,000 on Kickstarter.
Ari Ress Sundance Film Festival

If you want to make a movie, you generally need a lot of money. And filmmakers have to be creative about raising it.

Just ask the filmmakers at the Sundance Film Festival, taking place this week in Park City, Utah. Some 10 percent of the films selected for this year's iteration of the prestigious festival raised money through the crowd-funding website Kickstarter.

In the three years since the website launched, Kickstarter-funded films have been nominated for Oscars, picked up by Showtime and HBO, and honored with awards at Sundance, South By Southwest and Cannes.

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2:18pm

Fri December 28, 2012
Music

Remembering Fontella Bass, Voice Of A Soul Classic

Originally published on Fri December 28, 2012 3:06 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The voice of a great soul classic has died. Fontella Bass sang the 1965 hit "Rescue Me." She was 72 years old and died from complications caused by a recent heart attack. NPR's Elizabeth Blair has this appreciation.

ELIZABETH BLAIR, BYLINE: It's a perfect song with a perfect voice.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "RESCUE ME")

FONTELLA BASS: (Singing) Rescue me. Take me in your arms. Rescue me. I love your tender charms. I'm rather lonely and I'm blue. I need you and your love, too. Come on and rescue me.

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1:21am

Thu December 13, 2012
Business

Etsy Crafts A Strategy For Staying Handmade And Profitable

Originally published on Thu December 13, 2012 7:03 am

Etsy, which began as a place for home crafters and small businesses to sell their goods, has experienced growing pains as it surpasses 800,000 sellers.
Courtesy of Etsy

Etsy has gotten very big, very fast. This year, sales are at about $800 million.

"Their growth on all the major metrics you want to look at has accelerated really consistently," says journalist Rob Walker.

Walker recently wrote a story for Wired Magazine with the headline, "Can Etsy Go Pro Without Losing Its Soul?" Here's why: Etsy makes money from its sellers: 20 cents every time they list an item and 3.5 percent of every sale. Today, there are some 800,000 sellers.

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3:14am

Mon October 29, 2012
Monkey See

Impersonating The President: From Will Rogers To Obama's 'Anger Translator'

Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele cooperate to impersonate President Obama in Comedy Central's Key and Peele.
Ian White Comedy Central

Political commentators will be working overtime in the countdown to the presidential election. So will political comedians, including the candidates' impersonators.

Impersonators have been part of the political landscape for so long, it's hard to imagine a time without them: Rich Little, Dana Carvey, Will Ferrell, Dan Aykroyd, Darrell Hammond, Tina Fey and other comedians have all famously done their turns as candidates. Remember "I can see Russia from my house"?

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3:44pm

Tue October 16, 2012
Books News & Features

Hilary Mantel First Woman To Win Booker Prize Twice

Originally published on Tue October 16, 2012 5:06 pm

Writer Hilary Mantel has won her second Man Booker prize. She was recognized for her book, Bring Up The Bodies. Mantel is the first British writer and woman to win the award more than once.

2:48pm

Wed October 3, 2012
Music Interviews

Delta Rae: Modern Folklore Music

Originally published on Thu October 4, 2012 2:14 pm

Delta Rae puts a new spin on loss throughout Carry The Fire.
Smallz and Raskind Courtesy of the artist

Love songs are like the meat and potatoes of most rock and pop music, but sometimes you need something different. For the band Delta Rae from Durham, N.C., inspiration for new material comes from stuff like graveyards and being stuck in the wrong job.

Delta Rae is a six-piece band that includes three siblings: Ian, Eric and Brittany Holljes. Their music is like a kind of modern folklore.

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3:58pm

Wed September 12, 2012
Religion

Anti-Islam Film May Be Connected To Libya Attack

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

We're going to hear more now about the film that was, at least in part, the catalyst for the violence in Libya, as well as protests in Egypt. Some news outlets are saying the filmmaker has gone into hiding.

As NPR's Elizabeth Blair reports, very few people have actually seen the supposed two-hour movie, if it exists at all.

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1:24am

Wed September 5, 2012
Around the Nation

The Strange Story Of The Man Behind 'Strange Fruit'

Originally published on Thu September 6, 2012 1:37 pm

Abel Meeropol watches as his sons, Robert and Michael, play with a train set.
Courtesy of Robert and Michael Meeropol

One of Billie Holiday's most iconic songs is "Strange Fruit," a haunting protest against the inhumanity of racism. Many people know that the man who wrote the song was inspired by a photograph of a lynching. But they might not realize that he's also tied to another watershed moment in America's history.

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1:29pm

Mon August 20, 2012
Remembrances

Comedy's Self-Deprecating Pioneer Phyllis Diller Dies

Originally published on Mon August 20, 2012 4:02 pm

Diller poses with a photo at her Los Angeles home in 2005.
Chris Pizzello AP

A queen of comedy has died. Phyllis Diller had audiences in stitches for more than five decades with her outlandish get-ups and rapid-fire one-liners. She died at her home, where she had been in hospice care after a fall. She was 95.

Diller was glamorously outrageous — or at least the character she created was glamorously outrageous, the one who wore wigs that made her look like she had her finger in an electrical outlet, who wore gaudy sequined outfits. She was known for her laugh and those nasty jokes about her dimwitted husband, "Fang."

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12:11pm

Tue August 7, 2012
The Record

Marvin Hamlisch, Movie And Broadway Composer, Has Died

Originally published on Tue September 18, 2012 5:22 pm

Marvin Hamlisch (left) with Liza Minnelli and Barry Manilow in 1987.
Time & Life Pictures Time Life Pictures/Getty Images

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