Gwen Thompkins hosts Music Inside Out on WWNO in New Orleans.
Up until recently, she was an NPR foreign correspondent covering East Africa. She was based in Nairobi, Kenya, reporting on the countries, people and happenings from the Horn to the heart of Africa.
Since arriving in Africa in 2006, Thompkins has reported on the toppling of the Islamic Courts Union government in Somalia, ethnic violence in Kenya, insecurity in Darfur and Sudan's first nationwide elections in a generation. She has also written a series on the Nile River, traveling from the shores of Lake Victoria to the Mediterranean Sea. Heading south, she has reported stories from South Africa and Antarctica.
From 1996 to 2006, Thompkins was senior editor of Weekend Edition Saturday. Working with Scott Simon she learned — among other things — that when a horse walks into a bar, the bartender has to say, "So, why the long face?"
While at Weekend Edition, Thompkins also reported from her hometown of New Orleans. In the months following Hurricane Katrina, she and senior producer Sarah Beyer Kelly filed stories on the aftermath of the storm and the rebuilding efforts.
Before coming to NPR, Thompkins worked as a reporter and editor at The Times-Picayune newspaper.
A graduate of Newcomb College at Tulane University, Thompkins majored in history and Soviet studies. While on a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship, she was in Eastern Europe when the Berlin Wall fell. Fortunately, she says, she was not injured.
Ma Rainey's Black Bottom made its debut last year with a striking cast of characters, but it was Branford Marsalis' job to make the music take flight.
The Latin American Library at Tulane University is digitizing a whopping collection of Cold War-era, must-hear entertainment — Spanish language radionovelas made by Cuban emigrés in Miami.
African-Americans in the city have paraded in spectacular regalia inspired by Native American motifs for more than a century. The song of the Mardi Gras Indians exudes joy, defiance — and mystery.