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: "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.

My Mixtape: "STOP TRYING TO BE GOD," by Travis Scott

Dec 8, 2018

Rapper, writer, and educator Maddy "MADlines" Clifford, part of the Oakland based hip-hop duo FR333 and teacher of hip hop lyricism, history, and performance, picks "STOP TRYING TO BE GOD," by Travis Scott. She thinks everyone needs to hear it, including you. Give it a listen and see what you can learn about being attached to control.

My Mixtape: "Golden," by Jill Scott

Dec 7, 2018

Artist Karen Seneferu, founder and co-curator of the exhibit and movement-building platform The Black Woman Is Godfinds inspiration in "Golden," by Jill Scott, and explains why it reminds her of her father.

My Mixtape: "En el Úlitmo Escalón," by Trio Los Condes

Nov 29, 2018


Local writer, performer, and three-time "Best of the Bay" Comedian Award winner Marga Gomez shares a song that is written by her father, Wille Chevalier, and is very close to her heart. Listen to what "En el Último Escalón" has to say about her family's lessons on love.

Meg Norse from Indiana gets nostalgic with this early 2000's song from Broken Social Scene. She says the androgynous vocals paired with the raw lyrics are enough to break any adolescent's heart.

My Mixtape: "Saviour," by Jacob Collier

Nov 28, 2018

Oakland born percussionist, singer, and actress Sheila E. shows her respect for 24 year old Jacob Collier, who plays all of the instruments in his dynamic song "Saviour."

My Mixtape: "Rock Steady," by Aretha Franklin

Nov 27, 2018

Local actor, writer, and comedian Don Reed says "Rock Steady" is an Aretha Franklin song that's guaranteed to get you moving. He memorized it back in the 70's so that he could impress his childhood crush. Does it work on you, too?

My Mixtape: "If I'm Unworthy," by Blake Mills

Nov 27, 2018

Lewis Gallardo of Sweet Lew and the Sweet and Lows breaks down one of his favorites from Blake Mills. He says the song reminds him of this idea he had, which is that "you take your guitar and you don't try and emulate other guitarists, you try to emulate other artists. Whether they be vocalists or pianists or horn players...[Mills's] guitar playing has such a weird perspective, it's pulling from so many different things."

My Mixtape: "Foggy Mountain Breakdown," by Earl Scruggs

Nov 23, 2018

Turntablist, composer, and San Francisco native DJ Qbert shares some of his best inspiration with us. Listen to Earl Scruggs jam on the banjo and see if you can catch any hints of Qbert's scratching.

My Mixtape: "Suspiria," by Goblin

Nov 23, 2018


San Francisco composer and producer Marc Kate picks Goblin's suspenseful theme song for Suspiria. Try not to get spooked as he shares about his haunting experience watching the movie at Roxie Theater in the Mission.

My Mixtape: "Everybody Loves the Sunshine," Roy Ayers

Nov 20, 2018

Producer and rapper Tajai Massey, one of the founding members of Souls of Mischief and part of the hip hop collective Hieroglyphics, explains how Roy Ayers's "Everybody Loves the Sunshine" really does feel like a sunny day.

My Mixtape: "She Lives On My Block," by Chicano Batman

Nov 19, 2018

This Mixtape is brought to you by our own summer volunteer, Marco Siler-Gonzales. He recommends this Chicano Batman piece for post-climbing drives through the mountains. Check out his reporting on!

My Mixtape: "Awake," by Tycho

Nov 15, 2018


My Mixtape asks people from the Bay Area and Beyond to contribute a song that is meaningful to them. In this installment, Vanessa Hua, an award-winning, best-selling author and columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, tells us why she picked this song by Tycho.