Podcast: An Oral Narrative of a Life in Music

As part of the DOC 425 Documentary Film Seminar at Lehigh University, I made a short podcast for my final project. As a beginner to digital media, the idea for me was to engage with the activities that go into ‘documenting’ someone’s life and understand what a narrative arc looks like in developing oral narratives. 

For my podcast, I chose to make a podcast on my friend and piano teacher, Stephanie Shelton who lives in South Bethlehem. Stephanie is her late 60s, and has been a piano teacher and church pianist for a large part of her life. Originally from California and born to parents who were performers and musicians, music has been integral in shaping her life. I met Stephanie in a chance encounter early August shortly after my move here from India. The aim of the podcast for me is to learn about the medium of the podcast, reflect on the relationship between sound and knowledge, and simultaneously record my growing friendship with Stephanie which has been made possible by music.  

Part of my interest in documenting our conversations was to think about the impact music has outside the life of musicians who make music within an industry for recording and distribution purposes. Stephanie is a musician in her own right, enveloped in playing religious music that frames the rhythm that moves churchgoers to sing the hymns but is also involved in developing her practice of music pedagogy in training students for years. The intended audience is anyone who is interested in music, oral narratives, race relations in the 50s-60s in America and female friendship.

In this segment, Stephanie begins by telling us a little bit about her younger years on the road with her parents, Damita Jo and Steve Gibson performing along the Chitlin’ Circuit. We then  learn about her musical journey, learning to play the piano and about her growing relationship to music over the years.