Talia Schlanger

Talia Schlanger is a host and radio producer at World Cafe, produced by WXPN, the public radio service of the University of Pennsylvania. Schlanger joins the World Cafe team straight from CBC, Canada's public broadcaster, where she hosted a triple-A radio show on Saturday and Sunday mornings. She was the on-camera host for two seasons of the CBC television series CBC Music: Backstage Pass, which saw her interview some of Canada's best and brightest artists. Schlanger also hosted several prime-time music TV specials for CBC, including the Quietest Concert Ever: On Fundy's Ocean Floor featuring Serena Ryder, CBC Music SongCamp and the CBCMusic.ca Festival Special 2015. Schlanger served as the the interim host of CBC Radio 2's Canada Live and was a regular guest host on CBC Radio One's flagship artist and culture show q. She also filled in on Canadian current-affairs radio shows including As It Happens, Day 6 and Because News. Some of her favorite music interviews include St. Vincent, Tanya Tagaq, John Fogerty, Barenaked Ladies and Grimes.

Schlanger's first project at CBC was as a producer for CBC Music Presents: The Beetle Roadtrip Sessions, a cross-country rock 'n' roll road trip which won a Canadian Screen Award in 2014. She was also the digital producer for Hockey Night In Canada Song Quest, CBC Music's search for the next great hockey song.

Born and raised in Toronto, Schlanger is a proud alumna of Ryerson's Radio and Television Arts program. She's also a professional actress, singer and voiceover artist. Schlanger spent most of 2012 performing in the first national tour of Green Day's rock opera, American Idiot, at various theatres throughout the United States. (She thought she would be really cool when she met Billie Joe Armstrong after he watched American Idiot. She was not cool at all.) She has also performed on stage with Mirvish Productions' original Canadian company of We Will Rock You, as well as in the ensemble and understudying lead roles in Scaramouche, Oz (Canon Theatre, 2007/2008), and in Mamma Mia! (Royal Alexandra Theatre, 2003/2004).

I usually try and squeeze a little extra singing out of my favorite guests. Like, "Oh that song was important to you when you were a kid? How did it go? Do you remember the first song you wrote and will you sing some of it?"

"Who are you and why are you calling me?" According to Dawn Landes, that's what Country Music Hall of Famer Fred Foster said when she rang him up out of the blue and asked Foster to produce her new album. Foster founded Monument Records, he signed Dolly Parton and he produced most of Roy Orbison's hits in the 1960s. These days, he's in his late eighties and mostly retired.

Leave it to Matt Mays to infuse a daytime studio visit with the spirit of a super sweaty, late night at your favorite dive bar. Mays performs big rock songs from his latest album Once Upon a Hell of a Time featuring the sound of three simultaneous guitars and one heck of a growl. Mays credits Melissa Cross' "The Zen of Screaming" with saving his vocal life.

"What inspired this song?" That's one of the most basic questions we ask artists when they share new music. Sometimes that question leads to an interesting answer, sometimes it leads to a cryptic answer, but rarely does it lead to a flight across the country to spend a day at the zoo with a remarkable nearly 9-year-old girl and her family.

Today's guest made me cry in a church and I'll never forgive him. Dermot Kennedy was performing a showcase for SXSW. It was super dark, Kennedy was standing up there at the altar wearing this black sweatshirt and holding a guitar, and from the moment he opened his mouth, it was like hearing someone drag their own heart through their vocal cords and send it right up to the heavens: relentless emotion. It was like time stopped.

Normally when a guest sits down for a World Cafe interview, our producers or I help them adjust their microphone to the correct distance and angle. And if a piece of technology is misbehaving, we'll sort it out and hopefully our guest will be none the wiser. Not Vanessa Parr. On the day she visited the World Cafe studio, Parr couldn't resist adjusting her own mic to absolute perfection and helping us troubleshoot some finicky recording software. Call it an occupational hazard for someone who is used to making other people sound their very best day in and day out.

It is overwhelming and profound to imagine just how many molecules and how many mountains Aretha Franklin has moved with her music. From the deeply personal, private moments of listening she has summoned in every individual listener, to the church choirs who have sung her arrangements, to the collectives that have raised their voices to the gospel of her songs, and stretching all the way up to the divine.

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