Art and Culture

Art and culture

The Jackson Southernaires have released at least 30 stellar gospel albums and had a number of hits, including the seven-minute sermon and song "Too Late," performed by the late, great Willie Banks. 

Heading in to July with a slew of events and, of course, the big 4th on the Brazos celebration.

There are several fun events on the calendar for this evening, here are a couple to pique your interest… (more)

Story of a couple in England who face the unravelling of their marriage.

I'm Jim McKeown, welcome to Likely Stories, a weekly review of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and biographies.

I always look forward to reading the first novel of a new, young writer.  Hellen Cullen wrote her debut novel while in an English novel writing program.  She has an MA in theater studies from the University College Dublin.  She also has a journalism and broadcasting background.  Born in Ireland, she currently lives in London. (more)

Sofie Hernandez-Simeonidis

When school administrators and doctors realize the arts can help them do their jobs better, we should all take note.


R. H. Harris, co-founder of the Soul Stirrers in 1935, was one of the legends of gospel music - and all of that history can be heard in one of his recordings with the Christland Singers in "I'm Willing to Run."


Another amazing adventure with surprises, treachery, and suspense by Peter Heller

I’m Jim McKeown, welcome to Likely Stories, a weekly review of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and biographies.

Peter Heller is a relatively new writer, and The River is his fourth novel.  Of the three I have read, I thoroughly enjoyed the suspense and the thrills.  Peter Heller has an MFA from the Iowa Writer’s Workshop in poetry and fiction.  He lives in Denver Colorado.

Jack and Wynn are college buddies who decided to take a canoe trip through parts of Canada.  They are skilled at navigating white-water, and they have all the equipment they need.  Early in the trip, they smell smoke, but it does not seem close enough to pose a threat.  They encounter two men who are armed, and the boys warned them of the fire.  (more)

Sofie Hernandez-Simeonidis

Hearing an unexpected piano piece in church can open doors we didn’t even know existed.


Blind Willie Johnson provides a link between the spirituals and modern gospel. This brilliant steel-guitar player was a street musician in Texas in the 1930s and '40s and only recorded two dozen incredibly rare 78s and yet he is considered one of the greatese of all American musicians. 

From Dad jokes to childrens theatre... a Waco walking tour, Juneteenth celebrations and an icons 75th birthday celebration, there's plenty happening in and around Waco this week.


A tangled story of two families, intertwined by divorce and marriage

I'm Jim McKeown, welcome to Likely Stories, a weekly review of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and biographies.

Numerous individuals have urged me to read something by Ann Patchett.  But I could not uncover some special character or an interesting idea to grab onto.  I decided to forgo my Rule of 50 as a test of the efficacy of that rule.  Commonwealth is Patchett’s tenth novel.  According to the dust jacket, Ann Patchett has authored nine novels and three works of non-fiction. She was the editor of The Best American Short Stories: 2006.  She has won numerous awards, notably the PEN/Faulkner and the Orange Prize for Fiction.  She has been translated into more than 30 languages.  She co-owns Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee, where she lives with her husband and their dog, Sparky.

The story comprises three parts: the first is the intro duction to two families and a half dozen children.  Part Two mixes all these individuals.  Finally, the last is an extensive examination of these people as the family fragments and falls apart.  I had a difficult time keeping the family’s names and relations straight.  I began to understand the makeup of the family just as Part Three re-tangled them all together.  (more)

Sofie Hernandez-Simeonidis

On D-Day in World War II, a French painter came ashore with the Allied armies. His art would be forever changed because of it.


On "Standing Here Wondering Which Way to Go," Marion Williams is accompanied by the best studio musicians Atlantic Records has to offer - and the resulting 45 is one of the classics of gospel music. 


A story of Korean women who dive in dangerous waters to gather food

A few years ago, our book club read Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See.  That novel told a story of the horrific practice of “foot-binding.” Several others followed along similar lines. (more)

Sofie Hernandez-Simeonidis

The greatest works of art circulate slowly through the world.  We may only get one chance to see some of them.

I was speaking with a friend of mine recently about a particular piece of music and she commented that she would like to hear it live sometime in her life.  I agreed and later her comment got me thinking about how a direct, in-person encounter with a piece of music or a painting can literally be a once in a lifetime experience.

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The popular Skyways, led by W.C. Johnson, toured heavily in the 1960s and '70s as one of the vanguard artists of the new contemporarary gospel sound. 


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