On a recent Sunday afternoon, 15 members of the Renaissance Street Singers gathered under a bridge in New York's Central Park. With little fanfare, they launched into a free, two-hour concert of music by Palestrina, des Prez and other composers who lived more than 500 years ago.
In the suburbs of Seattle, an ancient West-African religion is gaining followers. Yoruba, from the Yoruba people of Nigeria, has been spreading across the U.S. for the last 50 years.
The religion is particularly popular with African-Americans who find it offers a spiritual path and a deep sense of cultural belonging.
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Wesley Hurt's Yoruba story begins the night he met his wife, Cheri Profit. It was nearly eight years ago, not long after a tour in Iraq. He had just gotten off for weekend release from an Army base in Tacoma, Wash.
On her 7th birthday, a little girl named Claire disappears in a seaside Haitian village. Through Claire's fictional journey, award-winning author Edwidge Danticat shares glimmers of her own childhood in Haiti.
In Claire of the Sea Light, the protagonist's mother died during childbirth, and her father is a poor fisherman, struggling to make ends meet. Just moments before his daughter disappears, Claire's father had agreed to let a local woman adopt her in hopes of giving his daughter a better life.
Patricia Polacco has written and illustrated more than 90 picture books. Her young readers are drawn to her stories about family and growing up. She has won many awards for her illustrations, which are done in gorgeous, full watercolor. Polacco's latest book is called The Blessing Cup.
Polacco tells NPR's Jacki Lyden that early life had a profound effect on her work. Many of her books feature her grandmother, called "Babushka" in Yiddish, and take place on her grandmother's farm in Michigan.