Mercedes Mejia

Mercedes Mejia produces interviews for All Things Considered, including the music segment Songs from Studio East. She also produces content for Stateside. Mercedes relocated to Michigan from New Mexico, where she earned her BA in Latin American Studies and Journalism. She began in public radio as a reporter at KUNM in Albuquerque. She brings extensive video production skills from her work at Univision and Edit House Production.

Her stage name is Stephie James, but friends and family here in Michigan know her best as Stephanie Hamood.

The Nashville based singer-songwriter got her start playing gigs at a coffee shop her family opened near Detroit. 

Now, after years of touring with big name bands, James is getting ready to release her debut album later this year.

“When I first go on stage I’m nervous, but as I go I feel exhilarated. I feel like I am the only one out there and that’s amazing.”

It’s that time of year again, when hunters hit the woodlands in search of that elusive Michigan delicacy: the morel mushroom.

Phil Tedeschi, vice-president of the Michigan Mushroom Hunters Club, gave me some foraging tips this month as we walked the woods of a secret location somewhere in Washtenaw County. 

For most of us, working in subzero temperatures doesn’t sound like the dream job. But the cold doesn't seem to bother World Championship ice carver Tajana Raukar.

Raukar is the owner of Ice Dreams Sculptures in Plymouth. It's cold in her studio, and she's wearing full on winter gear. 

Fans of singer-songwriter Jill Jack know she's been a mainstay of Detroit’s music scene for over two decades.

Back in October, she released her 12th full length album These Days, a nod to the Jackson Browne tune.

At the 2017 Detroit Music Awards, Jack was recognized for Outstanding Americana Artist/Group, Outstanding Americana Vocalist and Outstanding Jazz Recording for "Pure Imagination."

Desmond Jones, the funk/rock/jazz fusion band is releasing its debut album on October 10.

After meeting in college at Michigan State University and playing gigs around the Lansing area, the five-piece band has settled in Grand Rapids.

I spoke with drummer John Nowak and guitarist Chris Bota about their eclectic musical diversity. 

The Great Lakes are the largest group of freshwater lakes on the planet. But their future is uncertain.

Every year, a Native American group called the Mother Earth Water Walkers treks hundreds of miles around the Great Lakes to raise awareness of water issues in the region.

This year, the group is making its 2,000 mile trip from Duluth, Minnesota to Matane, Quebec.

Stateside producer Mercedes Mejia caught up with the group near Leamington, Ontario, and learned that the walk is more than a call to action. For many, it's a spiritual journey that connects them to each other and to other indigenous communities.

Escape rooms keep gaining popularity. 

You might have heard of them. The interactive game where you and a bunch of friends, or complete strangers, are locked in a room and have to solve a series of puzzles to get out -- oh, and you only have about an hour.  

The scenarios are endless. Think Sherlock Holmes, Indiana Jones or Jail Break. 

Patton Doyle is the co-founder of Decode Detroit, an escape room with a tech vibe located in Ann Arbor.

As part of Michigan Radio’s Songs from Studio East series we are exploring music that combines both contemporary and traditional music from around the world.

The West Michigan band “Cabildo" blends rock, folk, cumbia and ska. 

Julio Cano is from the Patagonia region of Chile. He's the lead singer of the eight member collective and he a guitarist. Cano draws inspiration from Latin American roots music like the ubiquitous cumbia style dance rhythm.

As part of our series "Minding Michigan," we explore mental health issues in our state.

Today, we introduce you to Patrick Cleland, better known as Rick Chyme.

He’s a rapper from West Michigan who's been collaborating with local artists from around the state and has several project in the works.

One of the big treats of doing Stateside live from the Charles H. Wright Museum was the live music from the Marcus Elliot Quartet. 

Elliot talked with Cynthia Canty about getting hooked on jazz,  teaching jazz at Troy High School and influences from his travels around the world, plus much more.

There’s an innovative idea from Israel that might be taking root in Detroit.

The idea is to train people in the community to respond to emergency calls.

“And they usually can get there much more quickly because they live next door or across the street, in the same apartment building, whatever the case may be, and get there before the professional EMTs arrive,” says Detroit News Business columnist Daniel Howes.

The Michigan High School Ethics Bowl competition is hosted each year by A2Ethics in partnership with the University of Michigan Philosophy Outreach Program.

“It is a judged tournament and includes a philosophical discussion and conversation,” said Jeanine DeLay, president of A2Ethics.

Michigan is one of 17 states and one Canadian province with Ethics Bowls and the program is in its third year.

Mark Masters of TDM Realtors in Flint says it's hard to keep tenants and even harder to attract new ones.

"I mean one of the first questions I get, it used to be 'is that a good neighborhood' and now it’s 'is that Flint water,'" said Masters.

Last spring he started getting calls from some of the company’s 300 renters that something wasn’t right with their water.

Michigan native Garrett Borns is better known by his stage name, BORNSHe recently released his debut album, Dopamine.

Before wrapping up his U.S. tour, BORNS will be performing at The Shelter in Detroit on Wednesday. 

Flint Eastwood has a new EP out this week. It’s called Small Victories.

The music was recorded at Assemble Sound, a repurposed church in Detroit.

Bandleader Jax Anderson says the studio played a huge factor in determining the sound of this new collection of songs.

On Assemble Sound

A combination of soccer and golf, the new sport of footgolf is gaining popularity across the nation.

According to the American FootGolf League, there are more than 250 footgolf courses across the United States, with 25 courses right here in Michigan.

“I’ve been playing soccer my whole life, and I also enjoy golf so it was just a perfect fit,” says Jon Aron, president and founder of the Michigan FootGolf Club.

A year ago, Ypsilanti singer-songwriter Chris DuPont found himself coping with depression and questioning his faith.

DuPont spoke with Michigan Radio's Mercedes Mejia about his renewed outlook on life and the stories that inspired his new album, Outlier.

The barbershop has long been a place for conversations about life, politics and neighborhood gossip.

Now, there’s a group in Detroit using that forum to get kids to think about college. The effort is dubbed the Barbershop Chats, and it's gaining recognition for the way it engages young African American boys and men.

Divorce is complicated. Even more so if there are children involved. But, for Carter Cortelyou there was another layer to his divorce that made it difficult for him to talk to about it, until now.  

In 2009, his wife came out to him — told him she is a lesbian. Since then, Cortelyou has gone through grief, isolation, financial challenges and re-entering the dating world unexpectedly.

“My first thought was there goes our 25th wedding anniversary (laughs), we were 24-years-married at the time and…there goes our 25th.”

With VHS camera in hand, Michigan native Jerry White Jr. and friends recorded over 400 hours of experimental video art and comedy sketches in a Detroit-area public access TV show they called 30 Minutes of Madness.

Jill Jack has been making albums for more than two decades. This year she was named "Americana Songwriter of the Year" at the Detroit Music Awards.

She will be performing at the Ark in Ann Arbor as part of the venue's 50th anniversary Made in Michigan showcase happening on Saturday, July 25.  

Jack talks with Stateside's Mercedes Mejia about her first gig at The Ark, about her latest music and how giving up playing at bars actually helped her career.

Ahya Simone doesn’t particularly like the word transition when she describes being a transgender woman.

Simone was born and raised in Detroit. From an early age she was drawn to the performing arts, singing in church choir and, eventually, while attending Cass Technical High School in Detroit, learning to play the harp.

But it wasn’t until she was in college at Wayne State University that Simone decided it was time to get real, and start living her truth.

Here's a video of Ahya Simone performing with her harp. 

Our special series "Poetically Speaking" highlighting poets and poetry in Michigan continues. 

Julie Babcock grew up in the late 70's and early 80's when playgrounds were full of sharp, hot metal and asphalt. 

When the City Meets the Sky is the latest album from the Marcus Elliot Quartet, dedicated to Detroit and to the leaders who helped shape the next generation of jazz musicians. 

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