Jacki Lyden

Longtime listeners recognize Jacki Lyden's voice from her frequent work as a substitute host on NPR. As a journalist who has been with NPR since 1979, Lyden regards herself first and foremost as a storyteller and looks for the distinctive human voice in a huge range of national and international stories.

In the last five years, Lyden has reported from diverse locations including Paris, New York, the backstreets of Baghdad, the byways around rural Kentucky and spent time among former prostitutes in Nashville.

Most recently, Lyden focused her reporting on the underground, literally. In partnership with National Geographic, she and photographer Stephen Alvarez explored the catacombs and underground of the City of Light. The report of the expedition aired on Weekend Edition Sunday and was the cover story of the February 2011 National Geographic magazine.

Lyden's book, Daughter of the Queen of Sheba, recounts her own experience growing up under the spell of a colorful mother suffering from manic depression. The memoir has been published in 11 foreign editions and is considered a memoir classic by The New York Times. Daughter of the Queen of Sheba has been in process as a film, based upon a script by the A-list writer, Karen Croner. She is working on a sequel to the book which will be about memory and what one can really hold on to in a tumultuous life.

Along with Scott Simon, current host of Weekend Edition Saturday, and producer Jonathan Baer, Lyden helped to pioneer NPR's Chicago bureau in 1979. Ten years later, Lyden became NPR's London correspondent and reported on the IRA in Northern Ireland.

In the summer of 1990, when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, Lyden went to Amman, Jordan, where she covered the Gulf War often traveling to and reporting from Baghdad and many other Middle Eastern cites. Her work supported NPR's 1991 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award for Gulf War coverage. Additionally, Lyden has reported from countries such as Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, Egypt and Iran. In 1995, she did a groundbreaking series for NPR on Iran on the emerging civil society and dissent, called "Iran at the Crossroads."

At home in Brooklyn on September 11, 2001, Lyden was NPR's first reporter on the air from New York that day. She shared in NPR's George Foster Peabody Award and Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award for coverage of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Lyden later covered the aftermath of the fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan.

In 2002, Lyden and producer Davar Ardalan received the Gracie Award from American Women in Radio and Television for best foreign documentary for "Loss and Its Aftermath." The film was about bereavement among Palestinians and Jews in Gaza, the West Bank and Israel.

That same year Lyden hosted the "National Story Project" on Weekend All Things Considered with internationally-acclaimed novelist Paul Auster. The book that emerged from the show, I Thought My Father Was God, became a national bestseller.

Over the years, Lyden's articles have been publications such as Granta, Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times and The Washington Post. She is a popular speaker, especially on mental health.

A graduate of Valparaiso University, Lyden was given an honorary Ph.D. from the school in 2010. She participated in Valparaiso's program of study at Cambridge University and was a 1991-92 Benton Fellow in Middle East studies at the University of Chicago.

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5:14am

Sat June 28, 2014
The Seams

A Modern Twist On Mexican Tradition Hits The Runway

Originally published on Mon June 30, 2014 6:36 pm

(Left) Mayan artisans from the Yucatan region hand-embroidered an armadillo onto this linen dress from Carla Fernández's Mayalands collection. (Right) This Fernandez dress is a traditional rebozo shape which honors the square root design of ancient patterns.
Ramiro Chaves/Courtesy Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

In a small shed in Tenancingo, Mexico, partly open to the sky, about a half-dozen men stand behind huge wooden looms. They pedal side-by-side, their churning feet making a beautiful harmony as they craft handmade rebozos.

Rebozos, long rectangular shawls that came into style in Mexico in the 16th century, and the huipil, a woven and embroidered blouse or dress of pre-Columbian origin, are the main elements of Mexican traditional dress.

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3:07am

Thu May 8, 2014
The Seams

The Art Of A Lost American Couturier, On Display At The Met

Originally published on Thu May 8, 2014 4:32 pm

Thursday in New York, the Metropolitan Museum of Art officially reopens its fashion galleries after a $40 million, two-year renovation.

Named for Vogue magazine's editor, the Anna Wintour Costume Center features an inaugural exhibit of the work of Charles James, a flamboyant designer considered America's first couturier. This caps days of glamorous events at the Met, including the Costume Institute's benefit gala, presided over by Wintour — with Hollywood stars.

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5:00am

Sat March 15, 2014
Pop Culture

'Baby Jane' Holzer's Flight From High Society To Warhol Superstar

Originally published on Wed May 7, 2014 12:21 pm

Socialite and actress Baby Jane Holzer, seen here in 1966, was one of artist Andy Warhol's first superstars.
Harry Benson Getty Images

In the mid-1960s, society was changing; shaking off old ideas and trying on new ones for size. There were changes on the political front, like the civil rights movement and the looming war in Vietnam, as well as on the cultural front, with new celebrities popping up on TV every night.

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5:14am

Sat February 15, 2014
Race

The Ebony Fashion Fair: Changing History On The Catwalk

Originally published on Wed May 7, 2014 12:25 pm

A backless gown with a feather-trimmed hoodie from French designer Andre Courreges, 1974.
Courtesy of Ebony

The Johnson Publishing Company, and its flagship publication, Ebony Magazine, helped to fashion the black middle-class in America for five decades. For 50 years, from 1958 until 2009, the Ebony Fashion Fair traversed the country.

The coast-to-coast show was a pageant of haute couture that created aspirations wherever it went. It was a rite of passage for black women, who flocked to it. The show also raised $55 million for African-American charities, like the United Negro College Fund or sickle-cell anemia research.

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5:04pm

Sun September 1, 2013
Remembrances

Poems As 'Stepping Stones': Remembering Seamus Heaney

Originally published on Sun September 1, 2013 6:18 pm

The poet Seamus Heaney died Friday. Heaney won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1995 and has been described as the "most important Irish poet since Yeats." Heaney was 74 years old. Host Jacki Lyden spoke to Heaney in 2008, and has this remembrance.

5:33pm

Sat August 10, 2013
History

Florida's Highwaymen Painted Idealized Landscapes In Jim Crow South

Originally published on Mon August 12, 2013 1:26 pm

Transcript

JACKI LYDEN, HOST:

And if you're just joining us, this is WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Jacki Lyden.

In the winter of 2012, I came across a story on a drive through central coastal Florida in the town of Fort Pierce. Route 1 is now dominated by strip malls and fading condos, but the Florida of the 1950s and '60s was a candy-colored Eisenhower, Kennedy space-age dream of flaming red Poinciana trees and untamed beaches.

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5:10pm

Sat August 10, 2013
Arts & Life

Audio As Art At New York Exhibit

Originally published on Mon August 12, 2013 1:26 pm

Transcript

(SOUNDBITE OF ARPEGGIO)

JACKI LYDEN, HOST:

Arpeggios ricochet through three speakers and envelop us. We're on the modernist Bauhaus staircase at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, listening to techno-inspired electronica. This piece is part of a new exhibit, "Soundings: A Contemporary Score," that opens today.

BARBARA LONDON: I wanted work that pushed limits, pushed boundaries.

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6:46pm

Sat August 3, 2013
Arts & Life

Bespoke Suits And Perfect Cravats At 'Dandy' Exhibit

Originally published on Sun August 4, 2013 10:43 am

Sartorial Anarchy #5, 2012. Ike Ude, photographer. In his Sartorial Anarchy self-portraits, New York-based Nigerian-born artist Ike Ude creates composite images of the dandy across geography and chronology. Ude photographs himself in disparate ensembles, pairing, for example, a copy of an 18th-century Macaroni wig with other carefully selected vintage garments and reproductions.
Courtesy of Leila Heller Gallery Ike Ude

When you hear the word dandy, what do you think of?

Maybe the song "Yankee Doodle Dandy," which dates all the way back to the Revolutionary War, and compares the colonists to foppish, effeminate idiots: the dandies.

But a summer exhibit at the Rhode Island School of Design Museum, closing Aug. 18, aims to reclaim the term. It explores dandyism through the ages, linking to the cutting edge of men's fashion and style. The name of the show is "Artist, Rebel, Dandy: Men of Fashion" — which does still leave you wondering what you might see.

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4:54pm

Sat September 22, 2012
Fine Art

The Landscape Art Legacy Of Florida's Highwaymen

Alfred Hair, Harold Newton, Al Black, James Gibson and Mary Ann Carroll were all part of the original Highwaymen.
Photos by Gary Monroe

If you traveled by way of Florida's Route 1 in the '60s and '70s, you might have encountered young African-American landscape artists selling oil paintings of an idealized, candy-colored, Kennedy-era Florida. They painted palms, beaches, poinciana trees and sleepy inlets on drywall canvases — and they came to be known as the Highwaymen. The group made thousands of pictures, until the market was saturated, tastes changed, and the whole genre dwindled.

Roadside Innovation

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3:15am

Thu July 5, 2012
Southword

Meet Al Black: Florida's Prison Painter

Originally published on Thu July 5, 2012 10:25 pm

Al Black is one of Florida's 26 officially recognized "Highwaymen" — a loosely affiliated group of artists who began painting in the 1960s, some of whom are still at it today.
Courtesy of Gary Monroe

In the 1960s, Al Black could be found cruising up and down Route 1 in his blue-and-white Ford Galaxy — with a trunk full of wet landscape paintings.

At the time, he was a salesman who could snatch your breath away and sell it back to you. As artist Mary Ann Carroll puts it, he could "sell a jacket to a mosquito in summer."

"A salesman is a con-man," Black readily admits himself today. He's a storyteller. And does he have stories to tell.

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