PBS NewsHour


Beyond The Canvas: Episode 3

What does it take to be truly happy? For many artists taking the stage, or singing their heart out, is what brings them ultimate joy. In our third episode of ​Beyond the CANVAS, we look at the emotional motivation that pushes some artists to chase their dream and leads others to decide to give it up.

AIRED: August 07, 2020 | 0:26:04

- [Announcer] This program was made possible

by contributions to your PBS station

from viewers like you.

Thank you.

- My first production that I can remember

was the best Christmas Pageant ever in Nashville, Tennessee.

I had no lines, just a little chorus parts

but that gave me a chance to look at every single person

in the audience during the show

and seeing them smile and laugh

and have feelings and emotions and from that moment on,

I said, "I'm going to do this for the rest of my life."

(funky music)

- Hi, everyone.

This is "Beyond The Canvas".

From "PBS NewsHour", I'm Amna Nawaz.

In this episode, we meet storytellers and performers

who even in their darkest moments,

found happiness and joy in their work.

You'll hear from the iconic Latin music duo

Gloria and Emilio Estefan,

♪ Do it

♪ Tonight, I promise

country singer, Kacey Musgraves,

♪ Slow burn

the legendary Joan Baez

♪They rode the big trucks till they lay down and die♪

and just now, actress Adrienne Seymour.

- When are you going to learn that?

- Now while each of these performers

has their own unique spark,

they all share a belief in the power of art

to heal and give us strength.

The artists you're about to meet

were first featured on the "PBS NewsHour"

but in this episode, you'll meet them on a new canvas

and maybe see them and their work through a different lens.

That's right here, on "Beyond The Canvas".

- "Orange Is The New Black" came about

just like any other audition.

They called me in for Black Cindy.

Immediately when I read it,

I said, "Oh my gosh, I know this girl."

To me, she represented a lot of girls

that I had run across when I had moved to Atlanta

just very fiery and speak their minds

and pop their fingers and roll their eyes

and roll their heads and just tell their truth.

And so when I read her, I said,

"I think I could embody her."

- Of course she aint smiling, she got screwed by me,

by everybody.

Suzanne, everything is broken and life is unfair.

When are you going to learn that?

- The play that I did in Shakespeare in the Park

was called "Taming Of The Shrew".

I got to work with Phyllida Lloyd

who is a phenomenal director.

And I was always afraid of Shakespeare.

Iambic pentameter and just going up on a line

and all that kind of stuff

but she really taught me how to own the language

and in that ownership, how to own the character

and once I got past that fear, I had the most amazing time.

What was so revolutionary about that experience

was that I lost my dad literally in the same time

that I was doing that show.

And so I was experiencing incredible highs

and incredible lows at the same time.

But one of the things that my dad taught me

and told me before he passed was happiness.

And so that's the thing

that I always try to embody in my work

and in my life and in who I am.

I feel like when I'm in the pocket with something,

I'll sometimes hear this little chime or this little ding

somewhere off in the distance,

and I feel like it's my dad being like,

(snaps) "You got it, you on the point girl."

My dad was very proud of me, of his children,

because one of the things he always said was,

"Do what makes you happy."

And a lot of times

when I get in very confusing places in my life

and I don't know what choice to make,

I always think about what he said,

which is do what makes you happy.

And so that's how I make my decisions.

I don't question, I just go inside of myself

and I say, "What will make me happy in this moment?"

Because that's what my dad taught me.

My name is Adrienne Seymour

and this is my brief but spectacular take

on all the characters of my life.

- The wisdom from Morey's father

is a touching and important lesson for us all.

Our next guests also seem to know a little bit

about the pursuit of happiness.

And they've spent their lives playing music

that brings us joy.

I sat down with Gloria and Emilio Estefan in 2019,

after they received the Gershwin Prize

from the Library of Congress,

the nation's highest songwriting honor.

And we talked about what keeps them together

and what keeps them going year after year.


That beat.

It is instantly recognizable.

♪ Come on, shake your body, baby ♪ do the Conga

♪ I know you can't control yourself any longer ♪

♪ One, two, three, four

Sounds from the 1980s that dominated radio and MTV.

Making Gloria Estefan and her band, The Miami Sound Machine,

including her husband Emilio Estefan,

one of the most popular musical acts of the time.

♪ Rhythm is gonna get you

♪ Tonight

Breaking through from the Spanish language genre

to number one hit on the Billboard Pop Chart.

♪ No way

We sat down with the Estefans

to learn more about their music,

their journey and their relationship.

How does this work?

- I think it's love, love and respect.

A lot of respect.

Love is absolutely the main thing,

respect and communication.

- That and he makes me laugh every single day in my life.

- Every single day?

- Every single day, in some way, sometimes not on purpose.


He makes me laugh.

Now, you know what it is?

I think we're a balance.

We are very different personality wise

but when it comes to the things

that are important in a good partnership,

we have the same values, morals,

our family come first, the priorities.

We're on the same page,

we rarely differ when it comes to business or music

so if you don't argue a lot

that really makes it for a great great life and very fast.

- You really don't argue a lot?

People will find that hard to believe.

- [Gloria] We don't.

- Love is making the other person happy.

As long as, you know, that's right, that's a secret.

I mean, sometimes you don't do things

if you think she gonna get upset.

And sometimes I do things that makes you happy

and I think that's been our secret.

- It was music that brought you together in the first place.

- It was.

They'd been playing around town.

They just played for the mayor, so we're all excited,

"Oh, good, this guy's gonna come

"to give us pointers on how to do this thing."

So, he knocks on the door, we're at my friend's house

and they open the door and in comes this guy

with a giant accordion around, you know like,

and in very short shorts,

which made it look like he was naked

because the accordion was covering the shorts.

So I was sitting on the floor

and I remember looking up and he has great legs.

So that was the first thing I saw, it was very nice.

And then a couple months after that,

my mom dragged me to a wedding.

I walk in.

And there's his band and everybody's having a blast.

It felt like a scene out of a movie for me

especially because there was a guy

playing "Do The Hustle" on the accordion.


- The guy with the legs. - It was him.

I didn't recognize him

till we kind of bumped into each other in a doorway,

and I go, "Wait a minute,"

because I hadn't seen him with the band.

I go, "You're that guy."

He goes, "You're that girl."

Then he asked me to sit in

with the band that night, a couple songs.

Then he asked me to join the band that night but I said no.

- What was it about her?

Why did you chase after her like that?

- It was not the first time that as I met her.

I mean, I just saw her singing,

I said she has such a beautiful voice.

So I said, "Why don't you come and sing with us in the band,

"it will be something totally different

"because I love her voice."

This is the best country in the whole world

and dreams can come true-

- [Amna Voiceover] And be rewarded.

Between the two of them, they've won three Grammy's

and three Latin Grammy's,

stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame,

induction into the Latin Songwriters Hall of Fame,

the Presidential Medal of Freedom

and for Gloria, a Kennedy Center Honor.

- You know, you said something once in an interview

about the first time you met Gloria.

This goes back to what you're sharing about her family.

You said when you first met her

that there was a lot of sadness

- Yes. - in her.

Where did that come from?

- Well, we left Cuba, my mom and I.

My dad took us out of Cuba because he was a police officer.

So when the coup happened on New Year's Eve,

he came home to my mom and he said,

"We're in trouble, the President just left the country."

And she told him, "Don't go back,"

and he said, "I have to go back, I'm a police officer."

"I can't abandon my post."

So then he told my mom,

"I have to get you and Gloria out

"because this is gonna get very ugly."

So I was alone with my mom

because my dad then went to the Bay of Pigs Invasion,

he was a political prisoner for two years.

So for those two years,

I started playing guitar and singing.

I sang since I talk.

It just came with me.

So music was my catharsis.

My mom would make me play for her friends

and I would like stare at the floor

because I don't like being the center of attention.

But when I sang, people would cry.

And I'd say to my Mom, "Why do you make me sing

"if people are going to cry?"


And she goes, "They're crying

"because you're moving them emotionally.

"It's not because they don't like what you're doing."

- You've now lived the majority of your lives here.

- Yes. - You were a child

when you first came, you were a teenager, right?

But you said we still have an immigrant mentality.

- Yes, we do.

- What does that mean?

- He keeps the slippers that are in hotel rooms.


He's got a stack of them like this.

I go, "Why?"

You never know.

He still likes to buy on sale, we don't owe anything.

So, that kind of thing where you're always thinking,

"This could go away, this could go away.

"You have to be safe, you have to be careful."

- You still think this could all go away?

- Of course it could, and it can.

Everybody has to really realize that things can go away.

- I think in this country, people take things for granted.

And one of the things that we take for granted is freedom.

I mean, we came to this country,

not looking for maybe a better opportunity,

we was looking for freedom.

And you know something, keeping that safe

is really keep your feet on the ground

and saying, "You know something, we're blessed

"we've been blessed with our career,

"we've been blessed with our family,

"we have the healthy kids."

I mean we're very happy people and you know something,

we are blessed that we are alive

and that we made a recovery in something that we love,

that is music.

♪ Rhythm is gonna get you

♪ The rhythm is gonna get you

♪ Rhythm is gonna get you

♪ The rhythm is gonna get you

♪ Tonight, I promise

- Like the Estefans,

the desire for freedom has always been a driving force

for country singer and songwriter, Kacey Musgraves.

But the road to success wasn't one she just walked.

It was one she carved out herself.

The Texas-born musician has now won six Grammy's

and five Country Music Association Awards.

Musgraves opened up to Jeffrey Round last year

about finding the creative freedom

to challenge the boundaries of traditional country music.

♪I'm alright with a slow burn

- [Jeffrey Voiceover] The song "Slow Burn"

opens Kacey Musgraves' show

on her sold-out tour and her new album "Golden Hour".

♪ I'm gonna do it my way

♪ It'll be alright

♪ If we burn it down and it takes all night ♪

♪ It's a slow burn

- It's just kind of a musing on myself and just kind of,

when I was making the album, kind of where I was mentally.

Just thinking that like,

it's not always about just getting to the end

or getting the biggest, the fastest,

it's about taking your time

and really enjoying the journey there.

♪Cause baby I ain't Wonder Woman♪

- [Jeffrey Voiceover] Just 30 years old,

the Texas-born Musgraves

seems to be enjoying her journey in music

and doing it on her own terms,

making the music she wants

while defying expectations

for both country music as a genre and for herself.

♪If you can't lose the weight, then you're just fat♪

Her debut studio album, 2013 "Same Trailer Different Park"

included the hit single "Follow Your Arrow."

A song that encouraged women

to break the boundaries set by others.

♪You might as well just do whatever you want♪

♪ So

♪ Makes lots of noise

♪ And kiss lots of boys

♪ Or kiss lots of girls

♪ If that's something you're into ♪

♪ Cause mama's hooked on Mary Kay ♪

"Merry Go 'Round" found similar inspiration

and earned her a Grammy for Best Country song that year,

in addition to Best Country Album.

♪ Mary, Mary quite contrary

♪ We get bored so we get married ♪

♪ And just like dust we settle in this town ♪

♪ Oh I bet you think you're John ♪ Wayne

But with her new album "Golden Hour",

she's reaching for a new and broader audience

by expanding the sounds and expectations

of a country music record.

♪ And we all know the end of the ♪ story

With songs like "High Horse"

veering into pop and electronic music

and it's garnered huge critical and popular support.

♪ And I think we've seen enough, ♪ seen enough

- With this record I was like,

"I want to reach beyond country music."

And not leave country music behind,

I want to take it with me.

I want to take my version of it to people

who normally would never even consider listening to it.

- Yeah, why was that important to you?

- I kept imagining, just reaching places

that I've never been and reaching people

that have never heard of me

but at the same time,

it was a very inwardly focused album.

I was really thinking a lot about my feelings,

I was feeling like really open enough to share them.

- You said you want to take my version of country music

- Mhm. - to people.

What does that mean, what's your version?

- Well, my version of country music

is largely

comprised of and inspired by

the roots of the genre.

I grew up singing very traditional Country

and Western music, like literally yodeling,

like wearing fringe and cowboy hats.

I mean, singing songs-

- Which you did, even in the first few albums, right?

- I did, a little bit, yeah, more so than this.

But I've always been inspired

by this huge range of other things.

I grew up listening to Shaday

and oh, my gosh, Alison Krauss

and Fleetwood Mac, Dolly Parton, the Bee Gees

and I'm like where can-

I love Imogen Heap, I love Daft Punk,

like where can these things all live together?

So I guess it is country music to me

in the sense that it's storytelling

and there are country instruments on it

but it's it's a different version of country.

I don't know, really, how do I even describe it.

♪ Wish we didn't live

♪ Wish we didn't live so far from each other ♪

♪ I'm just sitting here thinking ♪ 'bout the time that's slipping ♪

♪ And missing my mother

- So what does a song have to have for you,

to work for you?

- Oh, that's interesting.

Well, a song has to have

some element of truth to me, lyrically,

for me to be able to sing it.

I don't just get in there and go,

"Oh, I want to write a song about lady named Debbie

"and she's going through this and this."

It starts with me and it's got to come from here

or I can't sing it,

it's not gonna be believable.

♪ Now you're lifting me up, instead of holding me down ♪

♪ Stealing my heart instead of stealing my crown ♪

♪ Untangled all the strings round my wings that were tied ♪

- The road ahead for Kacey Musgraves' music

stretches long into the future

but all roads eventually come to an end.

For the legendary Joan Baez,

being able to know when to take a step back,

meant listening to her own voice.

Before Baez set off on her final tour,

she sat down with NewsHour's Jeffrey Brown

to discuss the last chapter of her musical career

and what comes next.

♪ My brothers and sisters were working the fruit trees ♪

♪ They rode on that truck till they lay down and die ♪

- My first vocal coach, very smart man, I was in my 30s.

I said, "When will I know it's time to quit singing?"

He said, "Your voice will tell you."

And it has.

- [Jeffrey Voiceover] Baez has been making music

in public since the late 1950s.

Renowned for reworkings of traditional ballads,

as folk music rose to popularity.

♪They call the Rising Sun

Her first album came out in 1960.

From early on political activism mixed with the music.

She sang at the 1963 march on Washington,

♪Tree of love

against the Vietnam War

and on behalf of many other causes over the years.

- But this is the last.

- This is the last.

- [Jeffrey Voiceover] But when we met recently

at her Northern California home

as she prepared to go back out on tour,

the 78 year old had more down to earth concerns.

- I'm not as young as I was yesterday.

- Right.

Are you feeling it as you prepare to go?

- Feeling my age?

- Yes. - Always.

- Yeah? - Mhm, stuff hurts,

you know, you're laughing.

- But you're still gonna get out there on the bus.

- I'm gonna get on that bus

and hope it doesn't completely break my whole system.

- [Jeffrey Voiceover] Last year, Baez released an album

titled "Whistle Down The Wind",

10 songs by writers she admires.

♪ So on that day and in that place ♪

♪ The President sang Amazing Grace ♪

It was her first recording in almost 10 years

and she says also her last.

- Conceptually, it was like an echo to the first album.

Josh Ritter wrote folk song.

Folk song, folk song, "Silver Blade",

the first album had "Silver Dagger".

♪ And in her right hand a silver ♪ dagger

- [Jeffrey Voiceover] The earlier song

was a traditional folk ballad of a wronged woman.

♪ But when I marked the silver blade ♪

The new line captured on this music video has a new twist.

♪ I lay buried deep beneath his ♪ wings

- In the first song "Silver Dagger",

the young maiden, her mother's threatening her,

"Don't get married.

"The guys are all like your father,"

and she caves, you know.

And in the new one, not at all.

She rides off with the guy she falls in love with.

He turns out to be a rotten guy

and he rapes her in his castle.

And instead of her crawling away

to never again have anything to do with a man,

she stabs him in the back with a silver blade.

Which, ladies, doesn't mean you have to assassinate the guy.

Just don't have to let him treat you like that anymore.

♪ Hello hello cried Henry Martin ♪

- [Jeffrey Voiceover] Baez says she's not a nostalgic person

but she has been going back to listen to her younger self.

- Yeah, I've been listening to that voice.

Its part to connecting with myself now.

- You've been listening to it just-

- Just to listen to it.

Because it's brilliant and it's one of a kind

and I can say that because my job is maintenance delivery.

And the rest of it really is a gift.

- And when you look back at that person who had that voice?

- Ballsy. - Ballsy, yeah.


- No, not ambitious.

Really, not for myself.

Probably very ambitious about the politics,

trying to get something done

and reading everything and being on top of it in that sense.

- Do you feel like the moment shaped you

or were you and others kind of shaping it?

- Well, that was a special period of time.

During which this enormous amount of talent just exploded.

And one of the problems now

is that people look back and they want that now

and you can't have it.

I mean, you can't have a repeat.

Something new has to emerge.

But yes, it formed me

and happy to say yes, I helped form it.

- [Jeffrey Voiceover] These days Baez stays active

in political causes

but warns people against romanticizing the 60s.

She calls herself a realist.

- We are facing a massive defeat,

if not the administration then its global warming.

I don't know whether my grandchild

is going to have a life,

let alone a good life.

My remedy for that is be in denial 80% of the time.

- Be in denial?

- Mhm.

- That's how you feel?

- Yes, to just put one foot in front of the other

and you take the 20% and you do your daily life

and part of that has to be

what are you going to do for everybody else?

What are you going to do for the human race?

And for that, everybody has to choose

but they have to choose.

- [Jeffrey Voiceover] She looks to young people

to speak up and take action.

- I'm not the standard bearer,

I'm not the out the front of the line.

The kids' doing that.

They really are.

And I want to support them any way that I can

because I think the kids are probably the only ones

who really get it about climate change.

I really do.

They look in their future and they say, "Do we have one?"

- [Jeffrey] Baez has a new creative outlet now.

- He is about two thirds done.

- [Jeffrey] Painting.

Portraits that once again mix politics with art.

She calls her subjects,

people like Nelson Mandela and Gloria Steinem,

"Mischief Makers".

- This is the only kind of,

I know what I'm gonna do on retire kind of thing.

It's probably not going to be fixing my roses

although that'll be part of it.

- You just used that R-word, to retire,

is that what you're doing?

- No, I've never used it before.

It's sort of like saying 80.

When I realize I'm going to be 80 in two years,

I feel just mortified and I walk down the house saying 80.

80, I'm gonna be 80, until it lost it's horror.

♪ Goodbye to my Juan, goodbye Rosalita ♪

♪ Adios mis amigos, Jesus y Maria ♪

♪ You won't have a name when you ♪ ride the big airplane

♪ And all they will call you will be deportees ♪

♪ And all they will call you will be deportees ♪


- And we certainly won't be saying goodbye

to the music of Joan Baez anytime soon.

She's left an indelible mark

that will be appreciated for generations to come.

You can see and hear much more from Baez

and the artists you met here today

on our website pbs.org/newshour/canvas

and tune in to the "PBS NewsHour" each night

for even more Canvas arts and culture reporting.

Coming up on "Beyond the Canvas",

comedic duo Steve Martin and Martin Short.

- Can you describe the moment when you first met?

- I went to Steve's house

to pick up a script for "Three Amigos".

I couldn't believe how great and beautiful this house was.

A Picasso here and a Bacon there and I said to Steve,

"How did you get this rich because I've seen your work."

And you said?

- I said, "Could you get this script tp Martin Short?


- [Amna Voiceover] Award winning costume designer

for "Black Panther", Ruth Carter.

- A costume designer is a storyteller.

She tells or he tells stories through wearable art.

And it's not only just like buying a shirt

or creating something original,

it's also giving it a little bit more of a story.

- [Ana Voiceover] Documentarians, Jimmy Chin

and Chai Vasarhelyi.

- [Jimmy] As Alex was practicing his climb,

we were practicing how we were going to shoot it.

- The risks were so high and so they had to just be perfect.

And I told the crew that the day before I was like,

"You stay focused on exactly what you're doing,

"no mistakes."

- [Amna Voiceover] And legendary actress Rita Moreno.

- There's something about sex

that always brings out the funny in me.

- Tune in next time

to meet the people in front of the camera and behind it.

I'm Amna Nawaz.

For all of us at the "PBS NewsHour",

thanks for joining me here on "Beyond The Canvas".

We'll see you soon.

♪ Rhythm is gonna get you

♪ Rhythm is gonna get you

♪ Rhythm is gonna get you

♪ Rhythm is gonna get you

♪ Tonight

♪ Deportees

♪ And all they will call you will be deportees ♪

- [Announcer] This program was made possible

by contributions to your PBS station

from viewers like you.

Thank you.