My Mixtape | KALW

My Mixtape

What's your favorite song? Or a song that holds meaning for you? KALW News has been asking these questions to people all around the Bay Area and here's what we've found.

Want to share your own story of a significant song? Click here to find out how.

My Mixtape: "My Queen Is Ada Eastman," by Sons of Kemet

Apr 19, 2019

Oakland author Dickson Lam, whose award-winning memoir was released in 2017, brings us "My Queen Is Ada Eastman," by Sons of Kemet.

Sons of Kemet is a modern British jazz group with a sound that bounces around with mixes of jazz, rock, carribean folk, hip hop, and more. We recommend listening somewhere you can dance.

My Mixtape: "Amor Eterno," by Rocío Dúrcal

Apr 19, 2019

Have you ever had a song so powerful it hurt too much to listen to? Santa Cruz based Natalie Tan-Torres brings to us a song that, for her, can only be listened to sparingly. After two years of avoiding "Amor Eterno," Natalie gives it a listen and explains to us why it holds such an impact.

Rocío Dúrcal is a singer and actress from Spain with an esteemed Latin Grammy Award. Listen to her sing and see if you can hold back the tears.

My Mixtape: "Both Sides Now," by Joni Mitchell

Apr 13, 2019

Lisa Forkish is a singer-songwriter, educator and self-described “Love Warrior,” based out of Oakland, CA. She has released four solo albums and is founder and director of five-time national champion a cappella group Vocal Rush.

She brings to us Joni Mitchell, who has been a big influence on her since she was a young girl. The song "Both Sides Now" is full of metaphors and solid life philosophy, give it a listen!

My Mixtape: "Love Theme from Spartacus," by Yusef Lateef

Apr 11, 2019

Michael Orange is the executive director and founder of Matatu in Oakland, CA. Today he shares with us a song from Yusef Lateef's 1960's album Eastern Sounds, a cover of the "Love Theme" from the movie Spartacus.

Nathan Tan is a fashion designer, artist, and owner of the clothing company New Skool, and today he brings us a hit from KRS-One. 

Listen to "Step Into a World," part of KRS-One's third solo album released in 1997, to get a taste of a conscious rap song you can dance to.

My Mixtape: "Summertime," by George Gershwin

Apr 5, 2019

Van-Anh Vanessa Vo is a wildly talented traditional Vietnamese instrumentalist and composer, who graduated from and taught at the Vietnam Academy of Music. 

Today she brings to us a classic 1935 opera song from Porgy and Bess that, for her, carries unexpected similarities to Vietnamese weather.

My Mixtape: "After Darkness," by Zakiya Harris

Mar 30, 2019

Oakland singer and songwriter Zakiya Harris performs under the name Sh8peshifter, fusing an afro-eclectic mix of soul, dance, and theater. She brings to us "After Darkness," a meaningful song of her own.

Listen to Zakiya muse on our culture's fear of darkness and the positivity that could potentially come from it in this edition of My Mixtape.

Dominique Gelin is a local comedian and co-producer of many bay area comedy showcases. In one of the most informative My Mixtapes yet, she graces us with her wit, wisdom, and one of her favorite tunes.

Did Eisenhower have black friends? How has the United States used music to show the world they were cool? Listen to a little Dave Brubeck Quartet to find out!

My Mixtape: "River," by Joni Mitchell

Mar 23, 2019

Playwright, stage actor, and sports columnist for the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, Chuck (CW) Nevius, shares with us a favorite from Joni Mitchell. It's a dreamy Christmas song unlike any other; give it a listen and see why it's one of Chuck's favorites!

My Mixtape: "Testify," by Dianne Reeves

Mar 22, 2019

Destiny Muhammad is a local recording and performing artist, band leader, composer, and producer. Her new album, Sonic Legacy, is a tribute to the legendary jazz harpist Alice Coltrane. 

She brings to My Mixtape another source of inspiration, Dianne Reeves, whose music might just keep you grounded when times get tough.

My Mixtape: "The Whale Song" by Big Tree

Mar 8, 2019

Anne Yumi Kobori is a Bay-Area based theatre professional and teaching artist. She believes in live theatre as a unique and powerful form of human connection.

She brings to us a band that formed in the basements of Sarah Lawrence College, and explains what it is that makes "Whale Song" so cute.

My Mixtape: "Tezeta," by Mulatu Astatke

Mar 7, 2019

San Francisco’s Tommy Guerrero started his career as a professional skateboarder in the 1980s and has been invested in music since his youth. He released his latest project, Dub Tunes, in Febuary 2019. 

Today he brings us a sweet lullaby of a song from Mulatu Astatke, one of the pioneers of the ethio jazz genre. Give it a listen and see how quickly you forget your troubles. 

My Mixtape: "Guess Who I Saw Today," by Nancy Wilson

Mar 2, 2019

Born and raised in San Francisco, Jamie Zee has been performing professionally for over 7 years and is currently attending the California Jazz Conservatory in Berkeley.

She finds a lot of inspiration in jazz singers like Astrud Gilberto, Ella Fitzgerald, and Sarah Vaughn, and today she brings us one of her favorites by Nancy Wilson. Listen in to find out what makes "Guess Who I Saw Today," so mysterious.

My Mixtape: "I Say a Little Prayer," by Aretha Franklin

Mar 1, 2019

Ruby Mountain is a singer, songwriter, and producer with an eclectic style. She grew up performing Afghan songs with her father while experiencing all of the soul, r&b, and hip hop that the Bay Area had to offer.

Today she brings us a song close to her heart: "I Say a Little Prayer," by Aretha Franklin.

My Mixtape: "Inner City Blues," by Marvin Gaye

Feb 23, 2019

Actor, comedian, filmmaker, and peace advocate Donald Lacy has produced local plays, radio theater, comedy shows, and more. He insists we listen to, in his opinion, the best album ever created: Marvin Gaye's What's Going On. It was a time when Gaye decided to stray from his usual flavor and speak out about the injustices in our society, and "Inner City Blues" exemplifies just that.

My Mixtape: "I Keep Forgettin'," by Michael McDonald

Feb 22, 2019

Michael Marshall kicked off his career as former lead singer for the musical collective Timex Social Club. Mike Meezy, aka "The Soul of the Bay," transitioned to a solo career in the 2000's and dropped his latest album, Grown and Sexy, in 2018.

He brings to us a classic from Michael McDonald, which was for him, the song that started it all.

Today's mixtape is brought to you by our own Audio Academy fellow, Porfirio Rangel!

Kat Robichaud is a local powerhouse of theatrical rock and creator of Misfit Cabaret, a fluid reimagination of the variety show. She brings to us "Faust," by Paul Williams  for a raw take on love and the music industry. "Faust" is from Phantom of the Paradise, the musical rock opera.

My Mixtape: "Laws of the Universe," by Toro y Moi

Feb 15, 2019

Oakland cartoonist and educator Breena Nuñez Peralta explores narratives rarely touched on in mainstream cartoons. She draws about the experiences of the Afro-Latinx diaspora and queer people of color. Her art is inspired by her own sense of not “fitting in.”

When she needs a break, she likes to listen to beats she can move her body to. Check out one of her favorites, Toro y Moi's "Laws of the Universe."

My Mixtape: "Human," by Sevdaliza

Feb 11, 2019

Toni Cannon, local acro-dancer and massage practicioner, brings us a song that he loves to perform to: Sevdaliza's "Human." 

Sevdaliza is an Iranian-Dutch singer, songwriter, and record producer, with renditions of "Human" sung in both English and Portuguese. We've incorporated bits of both in today's mixtape. Give it a listen and see what this experimental electronic music has to teach you about being human. 

My Mixtape: "A Lonelier Woman," by The Singing Bois

Feb 8, 2019

Beatrice Thomas is an artist coach, grant strategist, and multidisciplinary artist & performer, who is passionate about grants education and artist entrepreneurs. Also known as Black Benatar, she has performed at events such as Drag Queen Story Hour and Black Benetar's Black Magic Cabaret.

Beatrice shares with us an extremely touching song by The Singing Bois, a retro quartet based in Oakland. Part boy band, part Rat Pack, The Singing Bois have been telling queer and trans stories through music since 2014. 

My Mixtape: "New Bully in the Town," by Laughing Clowns

Feb 2, 2019

San Francisco taxi driver, writer, and zine-creator Kelly Dessaint chronicles his experiences on the road through his column with The Examiner, I Drive S.F., and in zines such as his Behind the Wheel series. He brings us one of his favorite songs, "New Bully in the Town," and discusses the fronts we sometimes put on when we're feeling afraid.

Jeremy Wheat, local comedian and host of Altered Images on, brings us a classic from everyone's favorite puppet. It was written in 1970 by Joe Raposo and sang by Jim Henson as Kermit the Frog, then covered by many other musicians over the decades. Listen in to see if the wise words of a frog still ring true today.

My Mixtape: "String Quartet No. 8," by Dmitri Shostakovich

Jan 26, 2019

Contemporary classical composer Sahba Aminikia came to San Francisco as a refugee. Born and raised in Iran in the '80s, he left as a young man to study music in Russia, and was a graduate student at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Sahba shares with us a tension-filled Shostakovich piece written in the '60s. He tells us how it taught him a lesson about contemporary classical music.

My Mixtape: "The Show Must Go On," by Queen

Jan 25, 2019

Russell Blackwood, director of local theater troupe Thrillpeddlers, shares a sentimental story of the first time he heard Queen's "The Show Must Go On." Spoiler Alert: it involves a lot of tears. Listen to the final song on the final album to be released in Freddie Mercury's lifetime and see what it has to teach you about endings.

My Mixtape: "Are You My Love?" by Kelley Stoltz

Jan 19, 2019

San Francisco based singer-songwriter Anna Hillburg has played in countless bands over the past 20 years. Her second solo-album Really Real is out with Oakland's California Clap. Check out her neighbor Kelley Stoltz, someone she listens to when looking for her own source of musical inspiration.

My Mixtape: "Personal Jesus," by Depeche Mode

Jan 18, 2019

Drag performer, emcee, filmmaker, and actor Peaches Christ shares a lifechanging hit from Depeche Mode. Listen in to hear what "Personal Jesus" means for Ms. Christ.

My Mixtape: "La Bamba," covered by Los Lobos

Dec 20, 2018

Alexa Chavez, a dancer with Ballet Folklórico México Danza, tells us about her time spent touring with Los Lobos. One of Los Lobos' most famous hits is their cover of "La Bamba," which was originally adapted from a Mexican folk song by Ritchie Valens, pioneer of the Chicano rock movement. Los Lobos have been giving it new life since 1987.

My Mixtape: "Feeling Good," by Nina Simone

Dec 19, 2018
Album: I Put a Spell On You


Local screenwriter Kelli Colaco shares a classic by Nina Simone. Listen in to see how she combines "Feeling Good" with Suzuki martial arts in her acting classes.

My Mixtape: "Deserve a Parade," by Kev Choice

Dec 17, 2018


Pianist, composer, and MC Kev Choice represents Oakland hard. He started learning the piano in seventh grade at Westlake Junoir High near Lake Merritt and recently composed a piece for the Oakland symphony. He wrote this song in homage to the Oakland Warriors but explains why it's not only big name sports stars who deserve a parade.

Rhodessa Jones is co-artistic director of the San Francisco-based performance company Cultural Odyssey and director of The Medea Project, a performance workshop committed to incarcerated women's social and personal transformation. She brings us a song by Otis Redding that made her want to come to San Francisco and explains why it is able to hold such strong meaning.