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November 7, 2021 2:06 pm

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CBS Sunday Morning / Jane Pauley

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November 7, 2021 2:06 pm

Depression remains the leading cause of disability worldwide, affecting almost 300 million people; half of whom can't find lasting relief from drugs or therapy. As Lee Cowan reports, a new experimental treatment using a fast-acting approach with targeted magnetic stimulation, called SAINT (Stanford Accelerated Intelligent Neuromodulation Therapy), has achieved significant success in trials. With electric cars seen as the future of the American auto industry, companies are ramping up the production of batteries, which require lithium. Ben Tracy looks at efforts to increase lithium mining in the U.S., and the struggle over its environmental costs. Bob Costas, a longtime fixture of sports and Olympic TV coverage, is bringing his passion to a new HBO discussion show, "Back on the Record with Bob Costas." The veteran broadcaster and commentator talks with Jim Axelrod about examining the junctions of sports and culture. A son of working actors, Benedict Cumberbatch rocketed to worldwide fame in the BBC series "Sherlock," and to the heights of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Doctor Strange. Now, the Oscar-nominated actor is being praised for his performance as a bullying cowboy in Jane Campion's psychological drama, "The Power of the Dog." He talks with Tracy Smith about filming a period western, family, and gratitude for a stellar career. Those stories and more on this week's "CBS Sunday Morning," with host Jane Pauley.

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Our CBS Sunday morning podcast is sponsored by Edward Jones. College tours with your oldest daughter. Updating the kitchen to the appropriate decade.

Retiring on the coast. Life is full of moments that matter, and Edward Jones helps you make the most of them. That's why every Edward Jones financial advisor works with you to build personalized strategies for now and down the road. So when your next moment arrives, big or small, you're ready for it. Life is for living. Let's partner for all of it.

Learn more at edwardjones.com. Good morning. I'm Jane Pauley, and this is Sunday Morning. Feeling particularly well rested today?

After all, most of us had an extra hour to sleep in. So why are we still yawning when we walk into the kitchen? It turns out that yawning is universal. We all do it. But why?

A cosmic question that our Faith Salie will set out to answer. Just watch this, and this, and this, and try not to yawn. When people yawn in classrooms or in front of other people, it actually represents an attempt for them to maintain attention and focus, and it indicates that they're actually paying attention to you.

Coming up on Sunday morning, we learn why we, and almost all other vertebrates, yawn. A century ago, Pauley Adler was one of the more famous, or should we say infamous, women in America. Her house of ill repute had a who's who of clients.

Everyone from gangsters to celebrities. John Dickerson looks back on the life of a notorious New York madam. Pauley Adler was the party girl turned professional madam, whose little black book contained some very big names. One of the most famous New York politicians ever was FDR.

That's right. And Pauley claimed that FDR was a client. That was a real shock to me.

A night at Pauley's place, ahead on Sunday morning. Actor Benedict Cumberbatch has portrayed plenty of women as heroic characters on film, from Sherlock Holmes to Dr. Strange. But as he tells Tracey Smith, his latest role is a bit of a departure, even for him.

25 years since our first rung together. For his new movie, The Power of the Dog, actor Benedict Cumberbatch wanted to be convincing as a 1920s cowboy, so he immersed the character in the film. He was also the director of the 20s cowboy, so he immersed himself in everything except soap and water. And did you fully embrace it in that you did not shower? Yeah.

I mean, not for the whole shoot. That would be kind of dangerous. I think I might have become a biohazard. Can you whistle Benedict Cumberbatch and the smell of success later on Sunday morning. That kind of thing. That's pretty good. Then Tracey looks into an ancient material that could power the future. Jim Axelrod has the play by play on the extraordinary TV career of Bob Costas. Lee Cowan tells us about an important advance in conquering depression, plus a historic night at the opera and more on this Sunday morning for the 7th of November 2021.

We'll be back in a moment. Depression. It's our leading disability affecting some 300 million people worldwide. And at least half of those people can't find lasting relief with medication.

Lee Cowan examines a new treatment that could be a breakthrough. In her garden outside San Francisco, Deirdre Layman tries to keep her demons at bay. I'm technically bipolar. For most of her life, medication and therapy have helped keep her depression under control.

You can have episodes of a quiet time where the disease doesn't appear. But when it does appear, for Deirdre, it's like tumbling head first into depression's deepest abyss. I just drop off a cliff. Clark, her husband, says one of the scariest episodes came back in 2018.

It wasn't just depressed, it was suicidal in a matter of hours. I said, Clark, oh my God, the chatter's starting and I can feel it's coming. This negative chatter about no one's gonna love me, I'm ugly, I'm a burden. No one would miss me if I killed myself. That's what the chatter was telling you. The chatter was telling me this.

Clark hid all the knives, all the pills too. You finally told my family and then as each of them called, I said goodbye. I wanted to die. This is a brain emergency, right? And we need to meet this with a really significant intervention. She was referred to Dr. Nolan Williams, the director of Stanford University's brain stimulation lab in Palo Alto, California. He was running a trial for an experimental treatment using targeted magnetic stimulation.

It's called SAINT. That stands for Stanford Accelerated Intelligent Neuromodulation Therapy. We treat it like a brain disease.

We find the spot to stimulate the brain back into not being suicidal, not being depressed. You can see the progress in photos of Deirdre's first SAINT treatments just days after the suicidal crisis began. She went from a blank stare to eating to actually smiling all in one day.

I had no chatter, none. Within 24 hours she was totally normal. Were you surprised? Initially I couldn't believe it and that at some point it just struck me that we'd found something that was really, really important. The American Journal of Psychiatry just published the findings of SAINT's latest clinical trial.

Almost 80 percent of the study's participants saw their severe depression go into remission. That's huge. Yeah. It's huge.

It's huge. You feel that there's no light in your life. And how long were you living that way?

It's been there all my life, since I was 20. One of Dr. Williams' first patients was 83-year-old Merle Becker, who tried everything to relieve her depression. How many different kinds of treatments were you on? Meds for more fingers than you have on your hand. She's a therapist herself specializing in depression, so she knows what she's talking about. Most people with a history of depression, particularly serious depression, feel a sense of shame. This is something very deep inside, a heaviness in your body.

You're in a tunnel and there's no way out. Her husband Bill has been by her side for 41 years and he's seen firsthand how SAINT makes Merle feel more in control. Okay, we're going to start you, okay?

Okay, I'm ready. SAINT builds on existing therapies for depression called transcranial magnetic stimulation, or TMS, but it uses a targeted and fast-acting approach. Dr. Williams uses an MRI to pinpoint the exact spot in Merle's brain that is underactive in her depression and stimulate it with a magnetic coil. We're trying to up-regulate, kind of buff up the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex back to its normal state so it has a sense of control. So what you're basically doing is telling this to turn that off.

Yeah, that's right. SAINT's magnetic pulses are set to replicate the way the brain communicates with itself, and repetition of those pulses essentially teaches the brain how to maintain its balance. All of a sudden they're looking at you in the eyes, they're smiling more spontaneously, and then by the end of the week they are telling you they feel totally well and back to their normal self. How you doing?

Fine. It can be exhausting and it's rarely a one-time thing. Merle has been doing maintenance treatments periodically for the last four years.

Okay, did it go good? But so far, no serious side effects. By the third day it was like, Dad, you feel better. Now there are two larger trials of SAINT underway, funded by the National Institutes of Health, including one that is testing SAINT in a hospital setting during a brain emergency, like a suicidal episode. Essentially they're under observation. That's right, they're under observation and the scary statistic is the highest likelihood of a subsequent suicide attempt or completion is in those months after the discharge. Dr. Williams sees SAINT as something that hospitals could use as almost a fast-acting antidepressant to stabilize suicidal patients who may, after a week of intensive treatments, leave the hospital feeling safe. It really changes not just numbers on a page but kind of people's perspective about their life, right? They'll turn around and say, you know what, I feel totally differently about my depression now, I'm empowered. Deirdre Layman's perspective became bright again.

She went back to school to finish her college degree. Do you feel depressed anymore? No. Not at all? Not at all.

Not at all. This intervention is something that has shown them that it's really their brain, it's not something about, you know, them personally, that deep self, but it's really a brain disease that we can identify and really treat and move. For Merle Becker, it's given her something she hasn't had in a long, long while. Hope. Hope. Hope.

I hope the younger me is out there watching this. Recently, the FDA gave SAINT breakthrough status, which means it's one step closer to becoming available. So where do you see this treatment going in five, ten years? It will change the world. You think?

Yes. It's a big statement. Oh, it's a game changer. Researchers generally don't like to go too far out on the game changer limb, but Dr. Nolan Williams hopes he's inching closer every day. It feels like it could be.

It's at a point now where I think we have enough data to say it's real, you know, and if it does what we've seen in other folks' hands, it very well could be. President Biden says he wants half the cars made in this country to be fully or partly electric by the end of the decade. That's millions of cars, trucks, and SUVs, all powered by lithium-ion batteries. Ben Tracy tells us more about lithium, the new oil. In the mountains of northern Nevada, the fuel of the future lies in the shadow of the past.

This is gorgeous. Yeah, and it's crazy to think that 16 million years ago this was the site of a giant volcanic eruption. This area is called Thacker Pass, and volcanologist Tom Benson has been searching the world for places just like it. He says an eruption here millions of years ago left behind the keys to unlock the electric vehicle revolution. It's called lithium, the lightest solid element on that chart most of us only periodically remember from high school chemistry. Rechargeable lithium-ion batteries are what power our cell phones, computers, even toothbrushes, and are now the fuel for all those electric vehicles starting to roll off the assembly line. What's the connection between volcanoes and lithium? Pretty much all lithium comes from volcanoes. In the coming years when people are driving their electric cars down the road, there's a good chance the lithium in that battery will come from here.

Yes, that's that's the hope. Benson works for Lithium Americas, a mining company that owns the rights to Thacker Pass, the largest known lithium deposit in the United States. The company expects to potentially extract 80,000 tons of lithium a year. That's enough to power about a million vehicles. So none of this looks particularly high-tech. No, it's not.

Jonathan Evans is president of the company. It's really the blood in a battery. Without it, the batteries won't work. With automakers pledging to soon make most of their vehicles electric, lithium demand is expected to increase as much as tenfold in the next decade. Right now, most of it is mined in Chile and Australia, and almost all of it is processed in China. The United States has just one lithium producing mine in southern Nevada, providing less than two percent of world supply. Is it an option for the U.S. not to be in this field and to let other countries supply this? I think the answer is no. We have a lot of competitors in the world that if we don't do something about it, others are going to be happy to.

And one of those countries is China. Yes. How far behind are we? Years.

Decades. The future of the auto industry is electric. There's no turning back. Jumpstarting the switch to EVs is key to President Biden's plan to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030 to slow climate change.

This sucker's quick. The Department of Energy has released a national blueprint for lithium batteries. It says relying on other countries creates a strategic vulnerability for the U.S. economy.

So we are right to the beginning of this journey, and therefore what's ahead of us is so huge. Alan Swan is president of Panasonic Energy North America. That's a lithium-ion battery, it's a 2170. He runs the largest lithium-ion battery factory in the world, just outside Reno, Nevada. It produces 2 billion batteries each year.

All of them are for just one electric car maker, Tesla. Do you guys ever shut down? Does this ever take a break?

No, no, never, never stop. 24-7, 365 days a year, we don't stop. The batteries are made on the Panasonic side of this massive facility known as the Tesla Gigafactory.

And then these robots humming along to the theme from the Super Mario Brothers video game drive them to the Tesla side where they are put inside the cars. What do we as a country need to do, or what do companies need to do to meet this new demand? We don't have a supply chain here in the United States. We have to work hard at that, and if we get that right, we're going to rock in America, which will be really powerful. Are we going to see more battery factories like this all over the country?

Yeah, fundamentally, yes. I mean, it's not even touching the bottom of the barrel at this point, so there's a long way to go. Those factories will need a lot of lithium.

It's a huge variety of things. It could be cell phone batteries, laptop batteries. Which is why J.B. Straubel, the CEO of Redwood Materials and a former Tesla executive, says all those lithium batteries need to be recycled. The sheer number of batteries and the sheer number of vehicles is massive, so if there is no scaling ahead of time and no solution ready, it could become a big challenge. Trucks arrive at his Carson City warehouse every day, loaded with boxes of old batteries from electric cars to power tools. His company is partnering with Ford to help turn old batteries into new ones.

Ford just announced plans to build two massive battery manufacturing plants in the U.S. I think, you know, recycling the batteries is a must. You know, the material is sort of coming at us, and we don't really have a choice of, you know, should we or should we not recycle it. Lithium is now so valuable, it's called white gold. There's believed to be billions of dollars worth of it here at Thacker Pass alone, and while it may be essential to a greener future, getting it out of the ground comes with its own environmental cost. The claim that this would be a green mine is extremely dangerous.

Max Wilbert is part of a group of protesters who have been camping out on the Thacker Pass mine site since January. He says lithium is not the silver bullet many believe it to be because of the impact of mining on the land and the large amounts of wastewater created by lithium extraction. If we're trying to move away from fossil fuels, is the environmental impact at a site like this the lesser of two evils?

You know, that's a really good question, but I think the problem is that's the wrong framing. Global warming is a huge problem, but in this attempt to save the planet from climate change, people are actually believing that we can save the planet by destroying it. Lithium Americas admits there will be environmental impacts, but claims new mining technology will lead to less damage.

The company plans to begin its operation next year, potentially creating a lithium boom town in nearby Winnemucca, Nevada. If you believe in climate change, if you are worried about competitiveness, if we're worried about jobs being lost, then assets like this, development like this in the US is necessary. This is Intelligence Matters with former acting director of the CIA, Michael Morell. Bridge Colby is co-founder and principal of the Marathon Initiative, a project focused on developing strategies to prepare the United States for an era of sustained great power competition. The United States put our mind to something we can what people are saying and what we kind of know analytically and empirically is our strategic situation, our military situation is not being matched up with what we're doing. Follow Intelligence Matters wherever you get your podcasts. Nigma is an extremely well-designed machine. Our problem is that we're only using men to try to beat it.

What if only a machine can defeat another machine? It's Sunday morning on CBS, and here again is Jane Pauley. He's been a sleuth, a scientist, and a superhero, but Benedict Cumberbatch's latest role required a brand new skill set. He's in conversation with our Tracy Smith. 25 years since our first run together. 1900 and nothing. It's a long time. Not too damn long.

In the new Netflix film, The Power of the Dog, Benedict Cumberbatch is a cowboy in 1920s Montana who can ride, rope, and roll a smoke with the best of them. I wonder what little lady made these. What little lady made these? Actually, I did, sir. My mother was a florist, so I made them to look like the ones in our garden. Oh, well, do pardon me.

They're just as real as possible. He's also a world-class bully who seems to take delight in tormenting some of those around him. Uh, now, gentlemen, look, see, that's what you do with coif. It's really just for wine drips. Oh, you got that, boys. Only for the drip. The movie is both a searing psychological drama and a meditation on toxic masculinity.

On the set and with director Jane Campion's encouragement, Cumberbatch also dug deep into what it meant to be a real working cowboy. And did you fully embrace it in that you did not shower? Yeah, I mean, not for the whole shoot. That would be kind of dangerous, I think. I might have become a biohazard, but I did for a whole week and a bit at the beginning of the, uh, of the shoot, um, at the beginning of rehearsals rather, I did, yeah.

For more than a week? Yeah, that's quite something in the 21st century to just not wash. You had to learn so many different skills. I mean a ludicrous number of skills. For the record, the 45-year-old actor cleans up pretty well. Can you whistle? I can. He says with a bit of an in-breath, um, that kind of thing. That's pretty good.

And there's talk he might also clean up at next year's Oscars, which is no surprise to anyone who's seen him on screens big or small. Shut up, everybody. Shut up. Don't move.

Don't speak to breathe. I'm trying to think. This is how the wider world came to know Benedict Cumberbatch, the 2010 BBC series Sherlock. You went from working actor to famous actor in a span of what, 90 minutes basically? Yeah, yeah.

It was like a sort of, uh, 12-year overnight success in 90 minutes. Wearing lipstick. You weren't wearing lipstick before. I, uh, I refreshed it a bit. Sorry, you were saying?

I was wondering if you'd like to have coffee. It seems that he'd been waiting for it all his life. Born to a pair of working actors, young Benedict considered law school for a moment before following his parents onto the stage. They gave me a very securing upbringing and offered me every opportunity with my education, with their upbringing of me, through love and a lot of resources to give me the choice to do anything but being an actor, to do something a little bit more secure, less peripatetic. And I threw it all back in their face by becoming an actor. I've never been a man of many words. And there's nothing I could say that you haven't heard.

He has managed to make them proud and they let him know it early on. There was just one moment in a car park after I'd played Sally Arie in Amadeus at the university. Dad sort of got hold of my shoulders and went, look, you're better at this than I ever was, or ever will be, and I support you and I can't wait to see what you do. I mean, yeah, every time I say that, I get a lump in my throat. It's such a huge thing for a man to say to his son, or for any parents to say to any child. And just to give that level of blessing, that egoless love, it floored me.

And that and making both of them proud really is a sort of essential ingredient to what motivates me day to day. I'm designing a machine that will allow us to break every message every day instantly. Cumberbatch got an Oscar nod for The Imitation Game as the British mathematician who helped crack the Nazi's secret code. But lately, he's been playing a different kind of hero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I'm Dr. Stephen Strange.

I need you to come with me. Oh, uh, congratulations on the wedding, by the way. Were you at all apprehensive, just coming from working actors and theater, were you at all apprehensive about taking on a Marvel role? Um, in what sense? In just the sense that it's, it's Mainstream entertainment, Mainstream, exactly, box office. Nope. Not at all.

Not really. I still, I still, I still think it needs integrity. It needs someone, it needs someone to be fully invested in trying to make a piece of make believe of here and now of storytelling work in the moment. You capture something with a cat, perhaps because you yourself are an outcast. He's expanded his storytelling powers with a production company.

They did this year's film about a Victorian artist who paints cats. But as the father of three small children with wife Sophie Hunter, he says he's more selective about what he takes on. The priorities I have in my life, there's nothing quite like my family in my work life. So whatever work, which is a huge deal, it offers me a great deal of life experience and opportunity. Nothing as anyone with children knows compared to that, so. No, nothing compares. No, not really. It has to be very, very worthwhile for me to leave home.

Sort of a lonesome place out here, Pete. Where's he get in the swing of things? Of course, in acting as in life, the most worthwhile ventures are often the toughest. Playing a cruel cowboy was both a physical and emotional hill to climb. But Benedict Cumberbatch sees all of it as a gift. You know, the gratitude of being able to do what you do that you love doing for a living is just I still pinch myself about that.

Don't tell producers because they'll probably come to me with lower offers, but it's the truth. It's like it is. It's a what a gig. What an amazing way to live a life. The roaring 20s, the jazz age, that time in American history, perhaps best remembered for its music, dance, nightlife and something else.

John Dickerson takes us back in time. During the roaring 20s, F. Scott Fitzgerald said, the word jazz went from first meaning sex to then dancing and then music. You could get all three at New York Madame Polly Adler's, where sex dancing and music was also the order of priorities for her patrons. Adler is the subject of Madame by Pulitzer Prize winning author Debbie Applegate, a biography that is also a story of America bursting into the modern age with new roles for women, new rules for couples and parties that flowed into rooms down the hall. Adler arrived from Russia at age 13 and got her American start in a sweatshop.

Give me a sense of the factory life. They're usually rather dark places. One of the things she quickly realizes is she has no control over the rest of her life, but she has control over her free time. So she starts going to the dance halls. She also goes to Coney Island. She adores Coney Island. Coney Island definitely teaches people the idea that you can just meet strangers. The boy will pay for your hot dog, pay for your amusement ride, pay for the dance hall. But the expectation was that there would be at least some sort of romantic prospects and sometimes a lot more on one such Coney Island date.

Adler says she was raped by the foreman at her factory, traumatized and later pushed out of her cousin's home where she had been living. Polly makes a choice. There's really one way that people enter the sex trades, and that is when you look at how much money you can make compared to your current situation.

It starts to look like a sign of self-respect, that I'm going to take care of myself. And Polly said, I could hardly have picked a better age in which to be a madam. She enters the sex trade just as prohibition is getting started. Prohibition is one of the greatest examples of unintended consequences in American history. So all of a sudden you get rid of the saloons, but now you have secret speakeasies. You write that even if you just wanted to get a beer, you had to suddenly rub elbows with somebody who was a criminal. And that seems glamorous all of a sudden.

You would never have spent time next to a gunman or a con man, but now all of a sudden you're sitting next to Lucky Luciano and Heath, the guy providing the booze. The broader culture changed. It was the bees knees for flappers with their jelly beans on their arms to get sozzled from jag juice at parties, which made it a short moral leap to Polly's if you had the money. The difference between Polly and most of her peers was that she was young, hip, fresh. She was of the generation. So she updated the oldest profession in the world to the jazz age.

That's right. One of her first big moves to try to broaden her reputation was to go to the nightclubs with a full bevy of her prettiest girls in tow. And they would go from nightclub to nightclub as a sort of billboard. She even had her own business card.

And just who was calling? Between her run from 1920 to just after World War II, her clients, Applegate says, included comedians like the Marx Brothers, well-known band leaders. The best documented of all her famous clients was Desi Arnaz. Sports figures. One of her more famous clients was Joe DiMaggio, who by all rumor did not like her satin sheets because his knees kept slipping.

So she was sent out for playing cotton sheets for Jolt and Joe. And crooners like old Blue Eyes himself. Frank Sinatra was a well-known womanizer, a well-known user of prostitutes. At Polly's, you could find the writers who built the New Yorker, tycoons and lots of politicians often doing deals with the gangsters. One of the most famous New York politicians ever was FDR.

That's right. And Polly claimed that FDR was a client. That was a real shock to me. I will say up front that I was never able to prove that. I found circumstantial evidence to suggest that that was perfectly possible and maybe even likely. There was this code that allowed men of that class to have these relationships under wraps. So it's not implausible. Roosevelt was well-known for loving stag parties. And as you point out, stag parties at the time, they didn't just play p-knuckle. Exactly. If that information had gotten out, he might not have been president. I think, well, quite likely.

I mean, I think almost certainly. But Polly didn't parrot what she heard or saw. And for the most part, she knew how to pay off the right people. Though on occasion, the vice cops would drag her to the woman's courthouse anyway. So at her height, how many people did she have on the take? How many people was she having to pay off? She could never even say how much. There were thousands and thousands of dollars every month.

No doubt about it. She would say as much as maybe $50,000 a year in a bad year. So the cost of overhead. That is, the cost of overhead on top of everything else.

On top of the condoms, the towels, the laundry. Adler was said to have quipped, it was a business doing pleasure with you. Which makes it sound like everything in her life was just Jake. It wasn't. Her gangster pals filled the morgues. Her girls were commodities. Do we forget the dangers in romanticizing the Jazz Age? That tension between glamorizing the Jazz Age and trying to describe its underbelly in realistic ways was something I felt the whole time. It is glamorous.

It is fun. But the underside was just constantly there in a way that it's easy to forget if you're watching the old movies. One of those old movies, A House is Not a Home, was based on Adler's autobiography, which she wrote from retirement in Los Angeles in 1952. The book was a smash success.

The 1964 movie, released two years after Adler's death, was not. Hi, Polly. Oh, hi, Lorraine. Hello, Matt. Hi, Polly. It made the woman once called New York's Empress of Crime look like a den mother.

The silver screen couldn't come close to the real thing. Is her story an American story? Oh, very much. I mean, she herself says I'm a classic American success story from $5 a week to my first fur coat to my Park Avenue apartment to worldwide fame. It's not necessarily the best American success story, but it's certainly not out of the mainstream. It's a first for New York's Metropolitan Opera and a first for trumpeter and composer Terrence Blanchard. Sunday Morning Contributor Hua Shu has their story.

The Metropolitan Opera in New York opened its season with a production by jazz trumpeter and composer Terrence Blanchard. It's an interpretation of the memoir written by Sunday Morning Contributor Charles Blow. He describes his anguish growing up in small town Louisiana in the 1970s and 80s. What drew you to Charles Blow's story? It was the notion of being isolated in your own community. Blanchard, who began playing the trumpet when he was nine, related to the feeling of having a kind of dual existence.

Out in the street hanging with your friends, and then being that kid who has to break away from that and walk to the bus stop with his horn in his hand on a Saturday, you know, wasn't a cool thing to do in my neighborhood. You translate some of the feelings into music. You have to allow yourself to be vulnerable while I was working on it. While I was working on it and there were many moments in my solitude where I was just in tears. There once was a boy of peculiar grace.

That line gets me every time. Terrence Oliver Blanchard was raised in New Orleans in a home that was filled with opera. Your father was a huge opera fan. What did opera represent to him?

Sophistication. Highest level of art. Whenever there was a masterpiece performance on PBS, he said, hey, come here, come here.

Listen, listen. See, now that's music. That's music.

Blanchard's passion? Jazz. Today he's a six-time Grammy winner and also a two-time Oscar-nominated film composer. He's been working on movie soundtracks since the late 80s. First, as a trumpeter on films like Do the Right Thing. How did you and Spike Lee begin working together?

I was just hired as a session player and I sat down at the piano and started playing. Spike walked by and heard it. He goes, man, what's that? I said, oh, it's just something I'm working on.

And then he goes, can I use that? Wanna hear this one first or one before? Yeah, let me hear the one before, so it's not gonna be this one. Blanchard has composed the scores for 15 of Spike Lee's movies. When did you feel like you were a composer? When we did Malcolm X. It was the first time that I felt like I was connected emotionally to something that I was writing for film.

The film I knew had to be powerful. Amateurish. Amateurish, right.

This ledger book from the early 1900s contains the Met's internal notations about opera submissions. Uninteresting, right? Not suitable for the metropolitan. It's funny that they take themselves so seriously that he writes out in metropolitan each time. I know, thank you.

There's not that much space. In its 138 years, America's leading opera house and largest performing arts institution had never staged an opera by a black composer. The arts are supposed to be the things that bring us together, that throw away all of those notions of bigotry and intolerance, right? So it breaks my heart to think that William Grant Still approached the Met and was turned away. William Grant Still, known as the Dean of African American Composers, submitted three operas for the Met over a 20-year span. In the 20s and 30s, what kind of opportunities existed for William Grant Still?

None. Everything was measured by what happened here at the Met. This is the place that makes the statement for the rest of the world. These are all people whose works didn't make it on that stage.

And Mrs. Horatio Parker, Mrs. Frances Thurber, Gertrude L. Thomas, William Grant Still, women, African Americans. People wanted to perform here. They saw this as the pinnacle. And the commentary is just so dismissive. So dismissive. Do you think there's some racial component to this rejection? Do you think there's racial component to this?

Listen, man, there's misogyny all over this too with all of these women that were rejected, right? But this time, it was the Met that reached out to Blanchard. Called me up and said, we want to put your opera on at the Met. Because I'm like, did this really just happen?

And all of a sudden, boom, and it blows up and takes off like a runaway freight train. Performances of his opera quickly sold out. And that should be a big lesson to arts organizations around the country. It's time.

It's time for us to move on. Nobody loves classics more than me. Listen, I'm a jazz musician who loves Bird, John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk. But I'm not trying to be them. I'm trying to find the sound for my generation.

I am, I am like Christ's way. In reviews, the production has been praised as being unlike any other opera. For Terence Blanchard, it was an opportunity to take risks. I haven't been to the opera since, you know, a third grade field trip. Oh, wow.

Okay. There are times when my ears would catch up to what was going on. I'm like, wait, are they, did they just sing a profanity? Yes, exactly, exactly. It's not like we're trying to be profane for the sake of being profane.

Just kind of ramp the energy up. Now that you've caught the opera bug, are you working on another one? Well, that's the thing. The Night of the Gala, man, you know, on behalf of the Met, we like to commission Terence to write another opera for us.

I was like, whoa, okay. I just want to get a nap in between, if I could. Thank you for listening. Please join us when our trumpet sounds again next Sunday morning. Like Maggie has for more from this week's conversation, follow the Takeout with Major Garrett on Apple podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-29 10:01:25 / 2023-01-29 10:16:27 / 15

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