Regular SWLing Post readers know that I’m a huge fan of the late Willis Conover. I just learned, via the Arts Journal blog, about an amazing collection of Conover audio archives that are now being shared online:
“The music program at the University of North Texas has graduated hundreds of jazz artists who went on to successful careers as professionals.[…]
Under Maristella Feustle of the university’s library, there is an archive devoted to the late Willis Conover of the Voice of America[…]. Conover’s VOA programs sent jazz around the world. For a quarter of a century he was one of the nation’s most valuable cultural diplomats. As of today, parts of the Conover archive are online and open to the public, thanks to a grant from the Grammy Foundation.[…]”
Those of us at the Willis Conover Facebook page are trying to get support for a postage stamp in honor of the great Voice of America jazz broadcaster, one of the great voices of shortwave. The recognition for this fine broadcaster and supporter of America’s music is long overdue. Please sign! Thank you–Marie Lamb.
As you’ll hear in this interview, Willis Conover actually supported a stamp in honor of the late and great Duke Ellington. Perhaps it’s time we support a stamp honoring Willis Conover. Click here to sign the petition.
The Voice of America provided Cuban jazz trumpeter, pianist and composer, Arturo Sandoval with a source of inspiration through Jazz. In a recent interview with NPR, Sandoval stated:
“We used to listen every day, every single day, [to] Voice of America. [It] was a shortwave radio program, and they play everything in jazz music. That was the only way we have to hear that kind of music and to be connected with the music we love. I was in the obligatory military service for three years when the sergeant [caught] me listen[ing] to the Voice of America, and then they put me in jail because I was listening to the voice of enemies.”
David Goren, Shortwaveology author and producer for Jazz at Lincoln Center, released a JazzStories Podcast today featuring VOA broadcaster, Willis Conover. Willis Conover is a noted name in both Jazz music and international broadcasting. His characteristic deep and articulate voice guided many shortwave listeners behind the iron curtain, into the realm of Jazz music.
During the Cold War with the Soviet Union, the United States had a secret weapon: Willis Conover’s “Jazz Hour,” carried on the shortwave radio signals of The Voice of America across Russia and Eastern Europe:. Starting in 1955 and running for over forty years, ‘Jazz Hour’ nurtured generations of jazz musicians who grew up under the restrictions of Communism. On this edition of Jazz Stories we hear Willis Conover and two outstanding jazz musicians, Czech bassist George Mraz and Russian trumpeter Valery Ponomarev – both of whom learned about jazz from his broadcasts.