Naomi Arenberg | Folk on WGBH


Naomi Arenberg  Naomi Arenberg

"Room for dancing is important!"

Background: At age 13, I discovered the power of radio while recovering from a car accident at home in rural southeastern Massachusetts. I was not allowed to read or watch television for a month, and pretty soon a small, portable radio — and the music it brought — seemed like my best friends. Forever grateful to Ellington for reminding us that there’s only “good music and bad music.” It’s a privilege to listen to lots of good folk and international music and to share some of it with listeners.

Nickname(s): Nao, Big Hair.

First album I ever owned: Peter, Paul & Mary’s 10 Years Together and Joan Baez’s David’s Album, both gifts for my 15th birthday.

Five desert island albums: Joan Baez, Vol. 1; the soundtrack to Ken Burns’s The Civil War; Sweet Honey in the Rock, Live at Carnegie Hall; the Beatles, The White Album; Beethoven: Trio for Piano and Strings No. 7 in B flat, Op. 97, "Archduke," with Pablo Casals (cello), Sándor Végh (violin), and Mieczyslaw Horszowski (piano) in a live performance.

Favorite podcast: PRI’s The World

Greatest place to see live music: Any comfortable living room or favorite outdoor festival, provided there’s a skilled engineer assisting. And room for dancing is important!

Most memorable concert: Pete Seeger at Town Hall in New York, April 1981. As he sang out, Pete gazed upward, seeming to find inspiration from above. After the show, mesmerized by the power of Pete’s songs, I looked up in the same direction and discovered that he’d been gazing at the second balcony.

Favorite movie about music/musician: Gumboots, a wonderful documentary about South African musicians and dancers

Favorite book about music/musician: Deep Community, by Scott Alarik, with terrific photos of musicians

When not listening to folk music, I listen to The World, the NPR news programs, BBC News, A Prairie Home Companion, Splendid Table

Finest moment on the air: Talking with Joseph Shabala, founder and director of Ladysmith Black Mambazo.

Most embarassing moment on the air: That story might be a bit too racy for this website.

If I weren't a radio host, I'd be singing with a band (which I still sometimes do in public) or work in some area of international diplomacy.

The best part of my job is weaving together all kinds of music from many parts of the world to share with listeners. Hosting festivals and concerts, where I can see how deeply the music impacts all of us.

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