Triple Take 23: Secret Sisters

secret-sisters-triple-takeIt’s the most wonderful time of the year … and a pair of Alabama songbirds will help fans celebrate during their Christmas tour.

Sisters Laura and Lydia Rogers perform as The Secret Sisters. The duo, raised in Greenhill, near Muscle Shoals, will perform Friday in Montgomery for the city’s Christmas tree lighting and Saturday in Florence, opening for Rosanne Cash. Learn more about both shows at

The Rogers sisters have also been at work on a third album, tentatively scheduled for spring release. When we asked them for the book, film and album that shaped them before they came on the podcast Triple Take, it was easy to see how their influences shape their work.

Laura picked Harper Lee’s “To Kill A Mockingbird,” Disney’s “Peter Pan” and Gillian Welch’s “Revival.” Lydia selected “A Little History of the World” by E.H. Gombrich, “Ever After” and “Extraordinary Machine” by Fiona Apple. Attention to writing, melody and story tie those works together.

Laura Rogers on “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee:

“It’s interesting how no matter what age you read it at, it brings something new into your thought process every time you encounter it.”

Lydia Rogers on “A Little History of the World” by E.H. Gombrich:

“It made me think about the fragility of life and how quickly good people can turn into terrible ones. I think this is a really good time to be reminded of that. We need to decide whether we want future generations to thank or blame us for where they are.”

Laura Rogers on Disney’s “Peter Pan”:

“It’s so magical but also kind of sad, because when you’re an adult and you’re watching it you’re like, man, childhood is so great. You’re so innocent, and you’re completely unaware that there’s this big world that could go completely wrong at any moment.”

Lydia Rogers on “Ever After”:

“She’s (Cinderella’s) portrayed more as a woman fighting for what she believes in than a girl in a ballgown falling in love. That really connected with me and she was portrayed as this strong, smart and unique person instead of just a girl who is just in love and a romantic.”

Lydia Rogers on Fiona Apple’s “Extraordinary Machine”:

“One woman can inspire and be powerful and also subtle at the same time. … That just really connected with me. Now that I think about it, I really believe that album made me start consider doing music for a living. She’s so unapologetically herself while also being a profound songwriter.”

Laura Rogers on Gillian Welch’s “Revival”:

“The songwriting is on a level I would equate with Harper Lee as far as storytelling and being able to wrap up so many thoughts and even so many unspoken ideas into such a short amount of time. … If you’re writing a standard-length song, you have only a few minutes to get a really good story across or a really good point or make whatever you’re trying to say very clear. It’s almost impossible, even, to say what you need to say in the amount of time that is the standard. But Gillian is the master of that.”

Like what you hear? Open iTunes or the podcast app on your iPhone and search Triple Take to subscribe, or do the same in the podcast subscription service of your choice. We’ll release new episodes every Monday morning. We also love suggestions for future guests, which you can make in the comments below.

Triple Take 22: Author and actress Fannie Flagg

fannie-flagg2016 marks 25 years since Fannie Flagg’s breakout novel, “Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe,” was adapted for the silver screen. Next year will be the novel’s 30th anniversary.

But even as she marks such momentous anniversaries, Flagg’s work continues. Her latest, “The Whole Town’s Talking,” is scheduled for Nov. 29 publication. Flagg will return to her hometown, Birmingham, Dec. 9 for an on-stage discussion of the novel, in conversation with FOX6’s Janie Rogers. The free event begins 7 p.m. at The Lyric Theatre. Register at

On the latest episode of Triple Take, Flagg shared insight into how special this event will be. Flagg’s father and grandfather were film projectionists, and her father worked at The Lyric Theatre during her childhood. She also spoke about three of her great influences: the Nancy Drew series, musical theater and the film “Gigi.”

Fannie Flagg on Nancy Drew

“I think there’s a lot to be said for popular culture. It connects us and we identify with it. I am not a person that is a literary snob. I love things that I can relate to. Basically what I still today read are very sort of uplifting things with a happy ending. I’m sorry, I just like that.”

Fannie Flagg on musical theater and the renovation of Birmingham’s theaters

“It’s terrific and it says a lot about our hometown that they care so much about preserving things. A lot of those beautiful movie palaces have been destroyed.”

Fannie Flagg on “Gigi”

“The movies gave us an idealized version of the world and when I was growing up, it was very positive. The messages were positive and there was a lot of comedies. They really didn’t dwell on the dark side of life and the seedy side of life. They showed only the best of human nature. I still kind of do that. … I sort of retained that wanting to write about nice people because I happen to believe that the world is full, still, of really nice people that never get written about.”

Like what you hear? Open iTunes or the podcast app on your iPhone and search Triple Take to subscribe, or do the same in the podcast subscription service of your choice. We’ll release new episodes every Monday morning. We also love suggestions for future guests, which you can make in the comments below.

21: Some of our favorite segments about racial identity and civil rights

shuttlesworth-dinnerWe’ve amassed quite a few recommendations since this podcast launched in April. Triple Take is a podcast about the books, albums and films that shape us, and we’ve had little repetition of picks. Save for “To Kill A Mockingbird,” which has shown up three times, each guest has selected art different from his or her predecessors.

Even so, themes have developed. Many guests have talked about race relations, civil rights and identity issues. (We’re based in Birmingham, after all, site to so many historic moments in the civil rights movement.) In honor of this week’s Annual Fred L. Shuttlesworth Human Rights Award, we’re revisiting three such segments.

The Shuttlesworth award is the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute’s highest individual honor. This year’s recipient is U.S. Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C. In a press release, the institute said Norton is “an iconic torch-bearer for the legacy of the civil rights movement and as a hero to the powerless and disenfranchised.”

The awards celebration will take place Saturday at The Lyric Theatre. The event will include music by Dr. Henry Panion III and orchestra, Eric Essix, Belinda George Peoples and the Birmingham Sunlights. Ticket prices start at $100 and are available at

In this episode, Elizabeth Hughey talks about Public Enemy’s “Fear of a Black Planet,” Edward Bowser discusses “Malcolm X” and Victor Luckerson talks about “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” Each offers insight into how these works influenced their understanding of human and civil rights issues and how that affects them moving forward.


EPISODE 6: Elizabeth Hughey on Public Enemy’s “Fear of a Black Planet”

“We had black history (in school), we had sections on the civil rights movement in Birmingham, we watched ‘Eyes on the Prize’ in our philosophy classroom. But at the time when I watched that, I was like, wow, that’s rough. I’m glad that’s over. I didn’t understand how far we were in Birmingham from being liberated and equal and a peaceful place for everyone. So that voice coming through on this album, this very powerful voice and the words we were saying, I was like whoa. There is a big world out there and I don’t know it yet.”

Hughey’s other picks were “Play” by Moby, “Orlando” by Virginia Woolf and “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.” Hear the full episode here.


EPISODE 7: Soul in Stereo blogger Edward Bowser on “Malcolm X”

“We saw that Detroit Red was a horrible person, and even when he ascended to become Malcolm X, he still had to learn and grow in that role. The last half of the movie, the last third of the movie, we saw that he overcame his own prejudices within the Muslim community. It was just so much growth and so much real poignant understanding.

At that point, it was really something that stuck with me because it showed that even people we consider icons or heroes are just as flawed as we are.

“There is this perception in our country that in order to have racial tolerance, we have to say we’re all the same. Everyone’s the same. You’re no different than me, blah, blah, blah. No, I’m very different than you. And that’s great, because those are the experiences that make us different.”

Bowser also selected “Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry” by Mildred D. Taylor and Missy Elliott’s “Supa Dupa Fly.” Hear the full episode here.


EPISODE 4:’s Victor Luckerson on “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain

“You realize that it’s (the n-word) for the use of creating a certain world, a fictionalized version of what really existed at that time. I guess for me, that validated the use of it. I wasn’t upset about it. … I thought it was kind of trickier because a lot of times in your writing, especially writing for a publication, you’re sort of hamstrung by what your pub thinks is appropriate. I remember one time in college, as editor of the paper, someone had chalked racial slurs across campus and we had a front-page story about it. I wanted to use the n-word written out without abbreviations, without censorship. I thought it was important for people to see the word, see the impact of it, to get the visual feeling you would have gotten if you saw it on campus that day. … I saw using the word could be powerful, written out in its entirety.”

Luckerson also talked about Outkast’s “ATLiens” and The Chappelle Show. Hear the full episode here.

Like what you hear? Open iTunes or the podcast app on your iPhone and search Triple Take to subscribe, or do the same in the podcast subscription service of your choice. We’ll release new episodes every week. We also love suggestions for future guests, which you can make in the comments below.

Triple Take 20: ‘Homegoing’ author Yaa Gyasi

yaa-gyasiYaa Gyasi’s upbringing made her curious about the relationship between a country from which slaves came and the place to which they were brought. She’s a Ghana native, but Gyasi spent most of her life in America. Her family left Ghana when she was a small child, and she lived in Huntsville from age 9 through high school, when she graduated from Grissom High School.

Those influences gelled in her bestselling debut novel, “Homegoing.” The book earned her a spot on the National Book Foundation’s “5 Under 35” list, as well as critical acclaim from all over.

Gyasi is the subject of this week’s episode of Triple Take, the podcast in which we discuss how books, films and music shape us. She said “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” by Lauryn Hill, Toni Morrison’s “Song of Solomon” and the movie “Love & Basketball” played a significant role in her development. Each of those artworks has black women at the center, and that helped Gyasi recognize that she, too, could make a living as a creative person.

Yaa Gyasi on “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” by Lauryn Hill

“There is this different atmosphere that you come into when your first work is wildly acclaimed. Before you write the first thing, you get the luxury of believing that no one will ever read it or see it or listen to it. That’s a kind of freedom; you get to make your book or your album or your piece of art look or feel exactly the way you want it to. You get to challenge yourself in certain ways because there’s no audience yet. After that piece of art is released and you see all these eyes on you, it can of course change your perception of how you work because you’re suddenly aware that the next thing you do, people will see.”

Yaa Gyasi on “Song of Solomon” by Toni Morrison

“It made say sooner than maybe I would have that I wanted to be a writer. I think that was something I had kept inside for many years. Morrison’s work allowed me to feel confident enough to tell people that that’s what I wanted to do with my life.”

Yaa Gyasi on “Love and Basketball”

“I was immediately struck by the power of the female characters in that movie. It’s different than other romantic comedies–or romantic dramadies, as it were. There’s this sense that she doesn’t have to relinquish anything of herself to fall for this guy.”

Like what you hear? Open iTunes or the podcast app on your iPhone and search Triple Take to subscribe, or do the same in the podcast subscription service of your choice. We’ll release new episodes every Monday morning. We also love suggestions for future guests, which you can make in the comments below.