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Archives > Guest Narrator & Author: Charles R. Smith and Dion Graham Feb 24-26

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message 1: by AudioFile (last edited Feb 24, 2016 05:40AM) (new)

AudioFile Mag | 1838 comments Hi Everyone. Aurelia posting for AudioFile. This is the place where we'll welcome 28 Days: Moments in Black History that Changed the World author and narrator combo Charles Smith and Dion Graham. Tomorrow, February 24, mid-morning at this very spot. We've been sharing the audiobook day-by-day throughout February. Here's the link to hear it! https://soundcloud.com/audiofilemagaz.... Listen to some or all of the days. See you all tomorrow!


message 2: by Dgraham (new)

Dgraham | 35 comments Hi everyone! Looking forward to beginning our chat in the morning. Sleep well!

Dion


message 3: by AudioFile (new)

AudioFile Mag | 1838 comments Good Morning, Everyone. This is Aurelia for AudioFile welcoming Charles R. Smith, Jr., author of 28 Days: Moments in Black History that Changed the World and Dion Graham, the actor/narrator extraordinaire, who’s the creative director of the 28 DAYS audiobook.

Charles and Dion will be answering your questions for the next three days. Hooray and welcome, Charles and Dion!

Here is Charles own GoodReads page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show... .

And Dion’s profile in AudioFile (he’s an AudioFile Golden Voice!): http://www.audiofilemagazine.com/gold....

28 DAYS is an illustrated chronology of 28 people and events in black history that changed the world. It starts with Crispus Attucks in the American Revolution and brings us to Barack Obama's presidency. Each day features a person or event with some prose, or text and finished with a mini biography. The audiobook is narrated by eight actors.

I’ll get the ball rolling with a couple of questions:

Charles, however did you choose these particular 28 people and events?

Dion, tell us about the ensemble of eight actors who narrate 28 DAYS.

And Charles and Dion, how did you find each other and decide to make the wonderful 28 DAYS book into this terrific audio experience?


message 4: by AudioFile (new)

AudioFile Mag | 1838 comments Dgraham wrote: "Hi everyone! Looking forward to beginning our chat in the morning. Sleep well!

Dion"


Thanks Dion!


message 5: by Kristie (new)

Kristie | 2212 comments Hi Charles and Dion. I haven't read the book yet, but it sounds very good.

Dion, I just wanted to say how much I've enjoyed your narrations of Dave Eggers' books. I'm particularly interested in how you tackled the "stream of consciousness" writing style of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. I couldn't imagine attempting to read the book on paper, but I thoroughly enjoyed your narration of it. How different was the preparation to narrate that book compared with others not written in such a unique way?


message 6: by Robin (last edited Feb 24, 2016 07:06AM) (new)

Robin Whitten (audiofilerobin) | 12 comments I've got roles with 28 DAYS, as editor of AudioFile we're sponsoring the serial, but as Robin, the editor I'm also actually posting the sound files each day. I just put DAY 24 into the serial set. Hank Aaron baseball legend today. So here's a new track of Charles & Dion's collaboration to listen to.
Are you either of you baseball fans, Dion or Charles?


message 7: by Dgraham (new)

Dgraham | 35 comments Good morning! I'm glad to be with you here. Thanks for having me. Let's get started!

Hi Robin,

Well, I WAS a huge fan of baseball growing up. My hometown team was a perennial powerhouse and I rabidly followed. I don't follow baseball so much these days. But I can't help revering great teams and players of old, like Hank Aaron.

Robin, you asked about the ensemble performing on 28 Days... They're great actors and narrators, some that you all may know and some that may be new to you. Always good to expand the family, right? You may know fantastic narrators Robin Miles, January Lavoy, and Lizan Mitchell. But you may be less familiar with talented William jackson Harper, Zainab Jah, Carter Redwood, and Jonathan Earl Peck. As I was putting the cast together I wanted to cast a diverse ensemble of great voices, great narrators and actors, to bring Charles' and Shane's beautiful book to life. They're telling our story (and that story includes everyone). Of course, I'm on there, too. :)

Here's a little heads up: if you are in NYC in the next months you can see January Off-Bway in FUNNYHOUSE OF A NEGRO at Signature Theatre. You can also see Zainab in the Bway premiere of ECLIPSED. And Will Harper will be co-starring in the upcoming NBC comedy GOOD PLACE.

I'm really proud of the work they did on 28 Days... Go on over to AudioFile's great serialization on Soundcloud and check 'em out.


message 8: by Dgraham (new)

Dgraham | 35 comments AudioFile wrote: "Dgraham wrote: "Hi everyone! Looking forward to beginning our chat in the morning. Sleep well!

Dion"

Thanks Dion!"


You're welcome!


message 9: by Robin (new)

Robin Whitten (audiofilerobin) | 12 comments Really fun to hear voices that we know, and some new people as well. Tell us about Zainab Jah--is she British, or does she just use a little bit of Brit accent for a couple of the profiles?
And so cool to know they have Broadway and TV appearances coming up.


message 10: by Dgraham (new)

Dgraham | 35 comments AudioFile wrote: "Good Morning, Everyone. This is Aurelia for AudioFile welcoming Charles R. Smith, Jr., author of 28 Days: Moments in Black History that Changed the World and Dion Graham, the actor/..."

Good question, Robin. I had the pleasure of narrating Charles' great Black Jack about boxing legend Jack Johnson. That's where we first encountered each other (Shane Evans, the illustrator of 28 Days... , also illustrated that one). I also narrated a collection of short stories that he edited called Pickup Game. Live Oak Media produced both Black Jack and 28 Days... We're longtime collaborators and I hope I get to look back and say that about Charles, too.


message 11: by Dgraham (new)

Dgraham | 35 comments Dgraham wrote: "AudioFile wrote: "Good Morning, Everyone. This is Aurelia for AudioFile welcoming Charles R. Smith, Jr., author of 28 Days: Moments in Black History that Changed the World and Dion ..."

Oh, sorry, Aurelia! Just realized that was you asking that question. I guess it is still morning, right? ;)


message 12: by Dgraham (new)

Dgraham | 35 comments Kristie wrote: "Hi Charles and Dion. I haven't read the book yet, but it sounds very good.

Dion, I just wanted to say how much I've enjoyed your narrations of Dave Eggers' books. I'm particularly interested in ho..."


Hi Kristie,

Thanks so much! I'm so glad you've enjoyed those narrations of Dave's (Eggers) stuff. I love Dave's work. We're longtime collaborators, too.

What else of his/ours have you listened to?

Preparation for A Heartbreaking Work Of Staggering Genius? Haha, I just had to take the ride. And I mean that. Beyond reading the book, taking it in and letting it work on me, I didn't do anything special (wouldn't it be more mysterious if I said I did?). With a book like AHWOSG you jut have to jump off the cliff and go. It's such a stirring, hilarious, absurd, and yes, heartbreaking (and sometimes heartwarming), book. Like life, eh? Considering that we all are living 'stream of consciousness' it seems like a good way to tell (and experience) this story. Don't we all have our own random particular internal monologues? In AWOSG, I think it all adds up to a powerful experience. Is it weird to say I had a great time narrating it? It's one of my all time favorites. So glad you enjoyed it.

Btw, that was our second collaboration after Dave's great What Is The What.

Dion


message 13: by MissSusie (new)

MissSusie | 1960 comments I look forward to listening to 28 days love Robin and January's narrations and look forward to discovering some new narrators..... I also loved your narration of Peace, Locomotion and Locomotion Woodsons poetic writing and your voice were the perfect combination.

I am also participating in the Armchair Audies and look forward to listening to X by Ilyasah Shabazz

I know you have been in the audiobook biz for awhile now, what was your first audiobook? And how did you get started?

Thanks so much for joining us!


message 14: by Dgraham (new)

Dgraham | 35 comments Robin wrote: "Really fun to hear voices that we know, and some new people as well. Tell us about Zainab Jah--is she British, or does she just use a little bit of Brit accent for a couple of the profiles?
And so ..."


Hi Robin,

Zainab is was born in England of, I think, Sierra Leonian descent. She's great. I mean, I could be continually posting about all of these artists but here's something fantatstic about Zainab as Hamlet last year. Be sure to scroll down to the clip:

http://www.upworthy.com/a-famous-amer...


message 15: by Dgraham (new)

Dgraham | 35 comments Julie wrote: "Hi Dion
Welcome to the group . Great to have you join us .

Can you tell me if all the narrators who worked on this project knew each other previously , and did the author choose the group, or ho..."


Hi Julie,

Thanks! A few of the narrators may have known each other. The common thread is that they all know me. As Creative Director and Director I chose them cause they're all great talents (and good people, to boot). What do you think?

Dion


message 16: by Dgraham (new)

Dgraham | 35 comments What a great morning. Got to sign off now but will be back with you soon!

Dion


message 17: by Charles (new)

Charles R | 16 comments Hello all, sorry I'm a bit late to the discussion but I'm here and look forward to replying to previous questions and answering new questions.
Charles


message 18: by MissSusie (new)

MissSusie | 1960 comments Charles wrote: "Hello all, sorry I'm a bit late to the discussion but I'm here and look forward to replying to previous questions and answering new questions.
Charles"


Welcome Charles!

My question for you is Did you have to do a lot of research for these stories? I liked that you gave us some new people that I had honestly never heard of, and I will be buying the CD/book combo for my library.


message 19: by Charles (new)

Charles R | 16 comments AudioFile wrote: "Good Morning, Everyone. This is Aurelia for AudioFile welcoming Charles R. Smith, Jr., author of 28 Days: Moments in Black History that Changed the World and Dion Graham, the actor/..."

Let's start with this one...Charles, however did you choose these particular 28 people and events?
I had a hard time choosing who to write about mostly because I wanted to avoid the "same old same old" names...Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, George Washington Carver, etc So, I looked for people who were the first to do something such as Daniel Hale Williams (the first surgeon to perform open heart surgery), those who did big things that we didn't hear about, like hero soldiers Henry Johnson and Needham Roberts and those who were the first in a unique field, like astronauts Mae Jemison and Guy Bluford. As I found these unique people, I made a point to diversify the subjects covered. Last, I made sure that the time period covered a broad spectrum as well. It wasn't easy, but the goal was to create a "new" version of the "same old same old" to last for years to come.


message 20: by Charles (new)

Charles R | 16 comments AudioFile wrote: "Good Morning, Everyone. This is Aurelia for AudioFile welcoming Charles R. Smith, Jr., author of 28 Days: Moments in Black History that Changed the World and Dion Graham, the actor/..."

Now this one...And Charles and Dion, how did you find each other and decide to make the wonderful 28 DAYS book into this terrific audio experience?

I would love to say I hand picked Dion to do the audio but my publisher and Live Oak (the audio publisher) are two separate entities so they chose him. It might have to do with the fact he's done a few of my books already, but I was thrilled nonetheless.


message 21: by Dgraham (new)

Dgraham | 35 comments Charles wrote: "AudioFile wrote: "Good Morning, Everyone. This is Aurelia for AudioFile welcoming Charles R. Smith, Jr., author of 28 Days: Moments in Black History that Changed the World and Dion ..."
Me, too, Charles.

d.


message 22: by Charles (new)

Charles R | 16 comments Robin wrote: "I've got roles with 28 DAYS, as editor of AudioFile we're sponsoring the serial, but as Robin, the editor I'm also actually posting the sound files each day. I just put DAY 24 into the serial set. ..."

Now this one...Are you either of you baseball fans, Dion or Charles?

I'm a big fan of baseball. The Yankees are my team and even though I was born and raised in LA, I cheered for them back then in addition to the Dodgers. Now that I've been in NY since 1991, I'm NY through and through!


message 23: by Dgraham (new)

Dgraham | 35 comments Julie wrote: "I love their voices . I've listened to all the serial parts that have been available on the Soundcloud App . I like the mixture of a lot of voices for each person's story . Very nice work, that you..."

Thanks, Julie! We are proud of it. Kudos as well to our team at Live Oak, as well.


message 24: by AudioFile (new)

AudioFile Mag | 1838 comments Charles wrote: "AudioFile wrote: "Good Morning, Everyone. This is Aurelia for AudioFile welcoming Charles R. Smith, Jr., author of 28 Days: Moments in Black History that Changed the World and Dion ..."

So in a way you'd already 'worked' together (although quite separately). This seems like it was different. More back and forth interaction. Or wasn't that necessary?


message 25: by Kristie (new)

Kristie | 2212 comments Dion, What is the What is the only other Eggers book I have read so far, but they will definitely not be my last. AHWOSG kind of blew me away. I expected not to like it, thinking that the writing style might feel pretentious or like it was trying too hard to impress me, but I found it so engaging and moving. Thanks for making it such a moving reading / listening experience.


message 26: by Dgraham (new)

Dgraham | 35 comments MissSusie wrote: "I look forward to listening to 28 days love Robin and January's narrations and look forward to discovering some new narrators..... I also loved your narration of Peace, Locomotion an..."

Hi Miss Susie,

Thanks so much for your kind words. Loved narrating Lonnie's world in Locomotion and Peace, Locomotion. That was great writing. Hope you enjoy X. I'm pleased that it's nominated.

My first audiobook? Well, my first professional audiobook was Caught Up In The Rapture (relationship drama, as I recall). But my first recording was of James Joyce's The Dead that a friend asked me to record. I was doing a show at the National Theatre in London when a friend introduced me to another actor who narrated audiobooks both here and across the pond. Sounded like fun to me. He made and introduction here once I returned to the US. That got the ball rolling. It's been 16 or 17 years now. Wow, time flies when you're having fun. :)


message 27: by Dgraham (new)

Dgraham | 35 comments Charles wrote: "Robin wrote: "I've got roles with 28 DAYS, as editor of AudioFile we're sponsoring the serial, but as Robin, the editor I'm also actually posting the sound files each day. I just put DAY 24 into th..."

Ah, yer bleedin' pinstripes now, are you, Charles? Back in the day it was my hometown Cincinnati Reds for me...


message 28: by Dgraham (new)

Dgraham | 35 comments AudioFile wrote: "Charles wrote: "AudioFile wrote: "Good Morning, Everyone. This is Aurelia for AudioFile welcoming Charles R. Smith, Jr., author of [book:28 Days: Moments in Black History that Changed the World|214..."

Haha, actually, there was no back in forth. We weren't even in the same room while we were putting it together. That would've been fun, though.


message 29: by Dgraham (last edited Feb 24, 2016 12:28PM) (new)

Dgraham | 35 comments Kristie wrote: "Dion, What is the What is the only other Eggers book I have read so far, but they will definitely not be my last. AHWOSG kind of blew me away. I expected not to like it, thinking that the writing s..."

Kristie,

I know what you mean about AHWOSG. Incredibly moving. I know folks have various strong feelings about the book. I find the title to be ironically self-deprecating on the way to being true. Shout out to Dave!

What Is The What is a great book, too--the book that Dave and I (and Valentino) met each other on. You should definitely check out the others: A Hologram For The King, You Shall Know Our Velocity, The Circle, The Wild Things, How We Are Hungry and Zeitoun (narrated well by Firdos Bamji) and Your Fathers, Where Are They... (lead narrated by my friend Macleod Andrews and a full cast. Haven't heard it, though). He also has a story or 2 that I narrated in the Ray Bradbury tribute Shadow Show.

Dion


message 30: by Charles (new)

Charles R | 16 comments My question for you is Did you have to do a lot of research for these stories? I liked that you gave us some new people that I had honestly never heard of, and I will be buying the CD/book combo for my library.

Great question! To show a side never seen, I did a ton of research on each person not just to find the details, but since it's all true, I wanted to get my facts right. I used everything from websites to books to old videos and movies. Especially for the Little Rock Nine piece. I really wanted to see the hatred in the protesters faces and see the fear and bravery in the young black students demeanor and I was able to do that with video.


message 31: by Charles (new)

Charles R | 16 comments Julie wrote: "Welcome , Charles :)

I know each of the people highlighted in these stories , in their own ways, were heroes .

I grew up in the years of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King . They were heroe..."


Who are heroes for today's youth?

That's a tough one because, sadly, the role models many of the kids have today would have never been famous years ago due to social media. I can't tell you how many kids can rattle off reality stars like nothing but can't name civil rights leaders and others that inspired my generation. I used that as motivation in writing 28 Days to show the caliber of people that truly inspire.


message 32: by Charles (new)

Charles R | 16 comments AudioFile wrote: "Charles wrote: "AudioFile wrote: "Good Morning, Everyone. This is Aurelia for AudioFile welcoming Charles R. Smith, Jr., author of [book:28 Days: Moments in Black History that Changed the World|214..."

So in a way you'd already 'worked' together (although quite separately). This seems like it was different. More back and forth interaction. Or wasn't that necessary?

There was actually no interaction. I was actually surprised that when I did hear from Arnie (Pres of Live Oak), it was to record my Author's Note because everything was done. The great thing about working with pros is they know their stuff so you just trust them to do what they do best.


message 33: by Charles (new)

Charles R | 16 comments Dgraham wrote: "Charles wrote: "Robin wrote: "I've got roles with 28 DAYS, as editor of AudioFile we're sponsoring the serial, but as Robin, the editor I'm also actually posting the sound files each day. I just pu..."

Ah, yer bleedin' pinstripes now, are you, Charles? Back in the day it was my hometown Cincinnati Reds for me...

Oh yeah Dion, I'm all about the pinstripes!


message 34: by Robin (new)

Robin Whitten (audiofilerobin) | 12 comments Charles wrote: "My question for you is Did you have to do a lot of research for these stories? I liked that you gave us some new people that I had honestly never heard of, and I will be buying the CD/book combo fo..."

Charles, so many times as I listened to one of the featured moments --like the Little Rock Nine--I looked to find more. Because you gave each one of their names, I found that Melba Pattillo, one of the students, had written a memoir--and AudioFile had just reviewed the audiobook! WARRIORS DON'T CRY
Then we were able to get the narrator Lisa Rene Pitts to comment on her recording.
You led me to this wonderful search-and-reward!


message 35: by Dgraham (new)

Dgraham | 35 comments Robin wrote: "Charles wrote: "My question for you is Did you have to do a lot of research for these stories? I liked that you gave us some new people that I had honestly never heard of, and I will be buying the ..."
Wonderful!


message 36: by Ruth (new)

Ruth Ferguson (ruthdfw) | 93 comments It must have been such a challenge to narrow the list down to 28 - if you were to release a second list (hint hint) in 2017 - who are some of the people you would consider spotlighting?


message 37: by Ruth (new)

Ruth Ferguson (ruthdfw) | 93 comments Unfortunately, there is a resistance to studying history - esp. the history that is more painful. How do you believe we can continue to encourage readers to dive into our rich history?


message 38: by Charles (new)

Charles R | 16 comments Robin wrote: "Charles wrote: "My question for you is Did you have to do a lot of research for these stories? I liked that you gave us some new people that I had honestly never heard of, and I will be buying the ..."

So happy to hear that Robin. Spread the love!


message 39: by Charles (new)

Charles R | 16 comments Ruth wrote: "It must have been such a challenge to narrow the list down to 28 - if you were to release a second list (hint hint) in 2017 - who are some of the people you would consider spotlighting?"

Another great question. There are some people who didn't make it, mostly due to subject overlap. I would have liked to included more international people but they would have been put in at the expense of others. Toussaint Louveture immediately came to mind. Others were left out because there just wasn't enough info to write something unique. I'll have to get back at you with more names later.


message 40: by Charles (new)

Charles R | 16 comments Ruth wrote: "Unfortunately, there is a resistance to studying history - esp. the history that is more painful. How do you believe we can continue to encourage readers to dive into our rich history?"
First and foremost, we have to remember that history is all about story. Growing up, in school I hated history because it was just memorization of dates and names, not stories. Any way that you can bring a story to life, you will have students engaged. I learned this from seeing my kids do spoken word biographies in school. The kids dressed up as someone and had to tell their story. And since history isn't just linear, it can create a great jumping off point for other subjects and eras.


message 41: by Michele (new)

Michele Cobb | 4 comments Dion my question is for you - as creative director on the title can you talk about what differences were required in approaching the project compared to a role as narrator alone?


message 42: by Ruth (new)

Ruth Ferguson (ruthdfw) | 93 comments Charles wrote: "Ruth wrote: "It must have been such a challenge to narrow the list down to 28 - if you were to release a second list (hint hint) in 2017 - who are some of the people you would consider spotlighting..."

Thank you!


message 43: by Ruth (new)

Ruth Ferguson (ruthdfw) | 93 comments Charles wrote: "Ruth wrote: "Unfortunately, there is a resistance to studying history - esp. the history that is more painful. How do you believe we can continue to encourage readers to dive into our rich history?..."

I absolutely agree it is about the story! That is why I always felt I enjoyed history because I was just reading true stories. But then again, perhaps I was simply blessed with one or two teachers who worked at bringing the stories to life.


message 44: by Rachel (new)

Rachel Feddersen | 2 comments Hi, guys! Question for both of you:

What are your favorite audiobooks to listen to, and why? You know, for when you don't have professional obligations, but are driving somewhere or folding laundry?

Actually, that's part two: What's your favorite place to do your listening?

Thanks!


message 45: by Kristie (new)

Kristie | 2212 comments Dgraham wrote: "Kristie wrote: "Dion, What is the What is the only other Eggers book I have read so far, but they will definitely not be my last. AHWOSG kind of blew me away. I expected not to like it, thinking th..."

Thanks Dion. They are all on my to-listen list! I'm all in on Dave Eggers (especially when you're narrating). :)


message 46: by Mohanalakshmi (new)

Mohanalakshmi | 1 comments Not really a question, more of an encourage to keep producing volumes this like! So many people I know (who consider themselves well educated) often say: "I never knew about XXX. How come they don't teach us this in school?" Hopefully with more projects like this, they will start!


message 47: by AudioFile (last edited Feb 25, 2016 04:38AM) (new)

AudioFile Mag | 1838 comments Charles, this is Aurelia for AudioFile. I've been curious, what's it like to hear the voices in your head voiced by the narrators?


message 48: by Dgraham (new)

Dgraham | 35 comments Mohanalakshmi wrote: "Not really a question, more of an encourage to keep producing volumes this like! So many people I know (who consider themselves well educated) often say: "I never knew about XXX. How come they don'..."

Couldn't agree more, Mohanalakshmi. It's important to know our history. And it is all of our history.


message 49: by Dgraham (new)

Dgraham | 35 comments Kristie wrote: "Dgraham wrote: "Kristie wrote: "Dion, What is the What is the only other Eggers book I have read so far, but they will definitely not be my last. AHWOSG kind of blew me away. I expected not to like..."

Great to know! Enjoy, Kristie. And thanks.


message 50: by Dgraham (new)

Dgraham | 35 comments Rachel wrote: "Hi, guys! Question for both of you:

What are your favorite audiobooks to listen to, and why? You know, for when you don't have professional obligations, but are driving somewhere or folding laundr..."


Hi Rachel,

I don't actually get to listen to too much. Time! But I do listen from time to time. I seem to listen most when I'm working in the kitchen. Or, right, folding laundry.
I don't know if I have a favorite kind of audiobook. Great narration is always a plus. I'm interested in all kinds of stories so anything can move me. A few years back I listened to Colum McCann's Let The Great World Spin and that knocked me out. Great writing and great narration.

Dion


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