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Mississippi Moments Podcast

Since 1971, the Center for Oral History and Cultural Heritage has been preserving the memories of Mississippians from all walks of life. Our collection of over 4,000 interviews and counting has proven an invaluable resource for teachers, writers, researchers, and museums. While our collection has a recognized strength in the history of the civil rights movement and veterans' histories, the Center has collected broadly. The topics covered within the collection encompass the breadth of the state’s history.   Mississippi Moments began in early 2005 as a weekly series of radio spots broadcast statewide on Mississippi Public Broadcasting with funding provided by the Mississippi Humanities Council. Each episode features stories gleaned from hours of research, edited for time and clarity and narrated by Mississippi broadcast veteran, Bill Ellison. These stories range in topic and tone, but war stories and the struggle for civil rights receive the most attention. MSMO is not a History series. History frequently comes along for the ride, but Story drives the narrative. In 2009, the Mississippi Moments Podcast was launched as a way to make past and future episodes available online and searchable by subject. The podcast format allows us to greatly expand on the broadcast version and bonus content is a given. So give us a listen. With over 600 episodes available and new ones added each month, you are certain to find some amazing, moving stories about the diverse and colorful people who call Mississippi home.
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Now displaying: Page 1
Sep 18, 2017

Born in 1906 in Himera, Indiana, Esther Stanton was just 14 years old when she began playing piano at the local nickelodeon. These were the days of silent movies, when musicians set the mood for the flicking images on the big screen.  In this episode, she explains how live music was used to enhance the movie-going experience before “talkies” came along.

It was this experience that prepared Stanton for a career as a professional pianist. Along the way, she met several famous entertainers, like Red Skelton, one of the most beloved comedians of the Twentieth Century, who grew up in nearby Vincennes, Indiana. Stanton recalls playing piano for Skelton in home talent shows and discusses his meteoric rise to fame.

When WWII erupted, Stanton joined the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corp or WACS, serving as director of the female dance band. When the WAC became part of the regular army, Stanton chose not to reenlist because of the limited opportunities being offered them. After leaving the WAC, Stanton formed an “all-girl” jazz band with several of her former band-mates. She credits the band's popularity to the shortage of male musicians during the war.

PODCAST EXTRA: While touring with her band in the 1940s, Ester Stanton met, and became friends with, popular pianist and showman, Liberace. She remembers his friendly demeanor and devotion to his mother.

In 1954, as half of a performing duo with her husband, Stanton moved to the Mississippi Gulf Coast. She played and performed until 1966, when she retired in Biloxi.

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