‘Questions That Matter’ on the ‘Path to Grace’

Pulitzer Prize winner Jane Smiley and the Yalobushwhacker Big Band - and more!

Friday, April 5 – Sunday, April 7 – The Thacker Mountain Radio Hour rocks two great authors, two cool musical acts, plus the Yalobushwhacker Big Band!

Author: Jane Smiley – The Questions That Matter MostReading, Writing, and the Exercise of Freedom

Author: Ethel Morgan Smith – Path to Grace: Reimagining the Civil Rights Movement

Music: Sharo and Bill Perry – Tribute to Bill “Howl-N-Madd” Perry

Music: Chelsea Lovitt You Had Your Cake, So Lie In It

Hosts: Jim Dees with Paul Tate and the Yalobushwhacker Big Band with the Thacker Horns and guest vocalist Mary Frances Massey

(Original air date: Nov. 3-5, 2023)

Air times:

Friday, April 5 – 6 am (CT) WYXR 91.7 FM Memphis, TN

Saturday, April 6 – 3 pm (ET) WUTC 88.1 FM Chattanooga, TN

7pm (CT) Mississippi Public Broadcasting

9pm (CT) Alabama Public Radio

Sunday, April 7 

3 pm (ET) WUOT | 91.9 FM, Knoxville

2 pm (MT) KNCE 93.5 | Taos, New Mexico



Jane Smiley

Jane Smiley, winner of the Pulitzer Prize in fiction, is also an unparalleled observer of the craft of writing. In The Questions That Matter Most (Heyday) Smiley offers penetrating essays on some of the aesthetic and cultural issues that mark any serious engagement with reading and writing.

With enthusiasm and meticulous attention, Smiley examine the works of Charles Dickens, Anthony Trollope, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Louisa May Alcott, Mark Twain, Willa Cather, Franz Kafka, and Jessica Mitford, among others.

Jane Smiley is a novelist and essayist. Her novel A Thousand Acres won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1992. Her novel, Some Luck, was long-listed for the 2014 National Book Award.

Smiley lives in Carmel Valley, California.

Ethel Morgan Smith

In Path to Grace: Reimagining the Civil Rights Movement, (University Press of Miss.) Ethel Morgan Smith shines light on unsung heroes of the civil rights movement, the ordinary citizens working behind the scenes to make an impact in their communities.

Through eleven original interviews with teachers, parents, volunteers, and more, Smith highlights the contributions these figures made to the civil rights movement. Also included are interviews with such esteemed figures as writer Gloria Naylor, poet Nikki Giovanni, fashion designer Ann Lowe, and educator Constance Curry.

Smith has been a Fulbright Scholar (Universität of Tübingen, Germany); Rockefeller Fellow (Bellagio, Italy); Visiting Artist (American Academy in Rome); and DuPont Fellow (Randolph Macon Women’s College).


Sharo and Bill Perry

Coming from a musical family, Sharo Perry has a 20-year career singing, playing bass keyboard, songwriting, modeling, and dancing. She has toured the U.S. and abroad, mostly with her late father, blues musician Bill “Howl-N-Madd” Perry. Her releases include the album Brand New Day and the single, Black Beauty.

Bill Perry, Jr. is a jazz/hip-hop pianist, composer and filmmaker. His most recent project is the live-action mini-series, POW! His musical releases include, Beyond The Darkness and Phantom. He also wrote and produced Mother Universe and All Her Children, a visual concept album which features five musical movements.

Both Perrys appeared on the ABC-TV civil rights drama, Women of the Movement. Bill Perry, Jr. appeared on NBC’s Young Rock as well as in the 2022 Morgan Freeman film, Paradise Highway.

Chelsea Lovitt

Chelsea Lovitt is a “Nashville-based, Mississippi-born, New Orleans-lived songwriter immersed in the traditions of country, soul, rock ‘n’ roll, and bluegrass, and her bona fides on guitar and fiddle match her vocal chops, which go from pure honky-tonk to rockabilly to folk and rock ‘n’ roll.”

Her releases include the singles The 440, and Truck Stop Waitress, the 5-song EP, Mossy Stone and the full-length album, You Had Your Cake, So Lie In It.