Growing up, actor Octavia Spencer remembers being inspired by the story of Madam C.J. Walker, one of America's first black, female, self-made millionaires. Born on a plantation in 1867, Walker eked out a living washing clothes for white families before building an empire selling hair care and makeup products to women of color.
The singer-songwriter earned a name for himself while playing with Drive-By Truckers and The 400 Unit, but on his new album — written after he got sober — Isbell finds a new level of emotional honesty. Here, he talks with Terry Gross about his life and plays songs from Southeastern.
The novelist has a new novel set in Alabama which features, among other characters, two memorable prostitutes. Brown has also started writing for television. She talks about the increasing presence of gay people in mass media, and her own experiences as an out lesbian.