Richard Polite was born in Charleston in 1951 and raised on Strawberry Lane before his family moved to Cannon St. near President St. After attending Burke High School, where he played football, Polite served in the U.S. Army and served one tour in Vietnam. In this interview, Polite recalls growing up in segregated Charleston and later working at the Naval Shipyard. He explains why he enjoys the job he has now held for 12 years driving a truck for the City of Charleston’s environmental services department. The job affords him the opportunity to serve and interact with the public. Hazardous working conditions and mismanagement have nevertheless led Polite and many of his coworkers to establish a union this past year. While there is no shortage of dissatisfaction among his coworkers, fear of losing their jobs in a poor economy has kept many of them on the sidelines.
Lebanese-American musician Peter Kfoury was born in Manchester, New Hampshire. His father was Lebanese and his mother Syrian. At thirteen, he learned to play guitar and soon after, he became fascinated with the oud, an old Mid-Eastern traditional instrument. He moved to Connecticut to attend college and for a few months, he took lessons with the Armenian musician George Mgrdichian. By that time, Kfoury started blending Middle Eastern music with jazz, rock, and funk. After a year, he decided to leave college and went to play music in New York. Later he returned to school and graduated as Dr. Chiropractor, the profession he has practiced for almost forty years. In the interview, Kfoury talks about the lack of diversity in the music offerings in Charleston as well as the lack of listening rooms. Responding to these voids, in 2016 he launched the World Music Cafe. John Holenko and Hazel Ketchum from Hungry Monk Music supported his efforts. Since then, World Music Cafe produces a monthly show that features three musicians of different musical traditions and styles. Finally, Kfoury talks about creating, recording and presenting his album At the Heart of Two Worlds.
Vocalist Aisha Kenyetta (a.k.a Aisha Frazier) was born in 1980, in Monetta, South Carolina. Before going to college, her life revolved around family and church activities. Kenyetta describes herself as a freelance vocalist with a powerful voice: "I'm a power singer... but when I sing, my diction is rhythmic. My voice is an extension of the percussion instruments. It's not—I'm not the violin. I'm the bass." She performs with her own band AmpSquared and several other such as Super Deluxe, Plane Jane, and the musician collective Emerald Empire. Additionally, she is the North Charleston Seacoast Church's Worship Leader. In the interview, Kenyetta discusses balancing family, day work, and music career and states she is grateful for the many opportunities to perform. At the time of the interview, Kenyetta was writing her own material.
Saxophonist Abe White was born in downtown Charleston in 1935. He attended Burke High and there he realized he could be a musician. Soon, with almost no training, he started playing at the local bars in Reynolds Avenue in North Charleston and in downtown Charleston. The job allowed him to make money and support his mother financially but also exposed him to the nightlife dangers. After graduating from high school, White joined the Air Force in administrative positions. He was stationed in Texas, Colorado, California, Florida, Germany, and Thailand. On each place, after his office hours, he pursued opportunities to play. When he returned to the civil life, he started his own business, "The Abe White Affair". In the interview, White reflects about his music and career and the long journey that took him from playing at armors and bars to his performances in local concerts and the Piccolo Spoleto Festival.
Erin McKee was born in Brooklyn, New York. Right after college, Mckee started her career as a flight attendant with National Airlines. When this company went bankrupt she joined Tower Air. In this interview, Mckee recalls some of the most dangerous, most difficult, and most satisfying moments she experienced working on international flights. In the ‘80s when she started working with the airline industry, flight attendants were expected to look attractive, they have to be slim, have their nails done, and their her hair up. It took time and work to change the requirements for applicants to meet the real focus of the position ‘the main reason that a flight attendant is on the airplane is if there's an emergency, to get you out of that airplane safely. It's not to look good. It's not to serve you meals really. You're there by law, federal regulations, to get people out of a plane in a certain amount of time if there's an emergency." At the end of '80s early '90s McKee and her coworkers organized a union to demand better regulations regarding the scheduling and number of hours they were forced to work. She became the secretary/treasurer of her union and was part of the negotiating committee. Because of her experience, she went to Washington, D. C. to testify before a legislative subcommittee about duty time legislation. Mckee moved to Charleston in 1996 and around 1998 Tower Air closed and she was out of work. She thought that her vast experience with unions would help her to find a job quickly but her background was not seen as an asset in a right to work state. She finally started working with American Income Life Insurance and then with Electrical Workers' Building Trades Local IBEW776. In 2013 she became the President of the State Labor Council (AFL- CIO).
Musician, educator, and community leader Lonnie Hamilton III was born in Charleston in 1927. He is a graduate of South Carolina State College and VanderCook College of Music in Chicago. In the interview, Hamilton reflects about growing up and developing his career in the segregated South since his beginnings at Burke High and the Jenkins Orphanage Band. He speaks about his long and gratifying career as an educator teaching music at Sims High School in Union, South Carolina and at Bonds-Wilson High School at North Charleston, South Carolina, and the many relationships he forged with his students over the years. He talks about the highlights of his performing career, playing daily on Channel 2, attaining the dream to have his own club, Lonnie's, his successful years playing at Henry's on North Market Street, and having the opportunity to compose an original song, "Ugly Way Blues" that he performed on the movie Rich in Love. Hamilton recalls the excitement he felt when he listened to jazz music for the first time in a show called Silas Green Minstrel in downtown Charleston and describes playing at Mosquito Beach as a unique and wonderful experience. Hamilton takes pride in his accomplishments, as an educator, as a musician, as a businessperson, and as a City Council member. He affirms he was able to break Charleston's racial and economic barriers thanks to his saxophone.
Musician and educator Mervin Antonio Jenkins, also known as Spec the Spectacular for his talent at rhyming and freestyle, was born in Eutawville, South Carolina in 1972. He is the first child of Mary, a schoolteacher and Melvin Jenkins, an auto mechanic worker. It was on his father's garage that Jenkins listened to Run DMC, "Sucker MC's" for the first time. Then, he would learn more about rap music and culture with his cousin from New York. In the interview, Jenkins reflects on his career as a musician and as an educator that uses rap to engage young people. He shares the challenges and rewards of his career, stating that recording with Big Daddy Cane was one of his proudest moments. He discusses the evolution of rap music and its styles and names his favorite artists. When asked about a particular Charleston/Carolinas sound, he argues that the Carolinas never developed their own rap sound and style because it was not functional for the music industry. At the end of the interview, he performs "War of the Worlds" and freestyles responding to the audience prompts.
Delia Chariker was born in born in Kingsville, Texas and when she was two moved to Clover, South Carolina where she grew up. Her earliest musical memories relate to her mother's big playful and musical family. She learned to play guitar when she was in High school. She attended college in North Carolina and after that she moved around the country playing in Nashville and California. However, making a living as a musician proved to be a struggle and she returned to school to obtain a Masters in Music therapy. She reflects about being a working musician and states this is one of the most rewarding times of her career: She is able to make a living creating music with her veteran clients and plays around town with her musician friends. Animas, her solo album reflects Chariker's deep connection with her Native American spirituality roots. At the time of the interview, Chariker was employed at the Ralph H. Johnson Veterans Affair Medical Center and was the Music Director at Unitarian Church in Mount Pleasant.
Guitarist and entrepreneur Clelia Hand Reardon was born in Huntsville, Alabama. She recalls her beginnings: taking piano lessons when she was in first grade and knowing when she was only thirteen that she wanted to be a classical guitarist. Reardon talks about her mentor and friend, Mr. Fred Sabback, and states he was the biggest influence in her career. In the interview, Reardon reflects about her prolific career as a performer and as a teacher. She remembers her experiences playing in many shows in Charleston; included Man of the Mancha, Porgy and Bess, and Jesus Christ Superstar; touring Europe twice with a jazz band, and participating in the organization of the Guitar Foundation of America international conventions and competitions. Finally, she reflects about the rewards of her teaching career.
“Sugar” is a bakery located on Cannon Street in downtown Charleston, S.C. that was founded by Bouffard and Bowick in November of 2007. Bowick, a native Tennessean, and Bouffard, a native of Vermont, have replaced an old vegetable stand with a new sweet shop. Both men worked in New York as architects, but moved to Charleston twelve years ago to pursue their dream of baking. In this interview, Bowick and Bouffard discuss their career backgrounds and inspirations, and how their background in architecture relates to the process of baking. They also discuss family connections to Charleston and local cuisine, the relationship between history and Charleston history in recipes, and how customers are attracted to the historical side of certain treats. An openly gay couple, Bowick and Bouffard also comment on the warm welcome they received upon moving into the neighborhood and what it says about how Charleston has changed in the last decade.