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Brinkley, Ark., Embraces 'The Lord God Bird'

A local artist's wooden cutout of the ivory-billed woodpecker graces a sign outside Penny's Hair Care in Brinkley.
A local artist's wooden cutout of the ivory-billed woodpecker graces a sign outside Penny's Hair Care in Brinkley.
Near Bayou DeView, where the ivory-billed woodpecker has been spotted.
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Near Bayou DeView, where the ivory-billed woodpecker has been spotted.

Singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens has a lofty goal: exploring each of the 50 states in song. He's already released a critically acclaimed full-length CD simply called Michigan. His latest honors the people, places and history of Illinois.

Independent radio producers Dan Collison and Elizabeth Meister were curious about how Stevens writes his songs, which, much like their own work, are filled with stories of places and people. So, they introduced Stevens to the Arkansas town of Brinkley.

Brinkley is a small farming town not far from where the ivory-billed woodpecker recently was rediscovered. News that the bird is not extinct has brought a ray of hope to the residents of Brinkley.

Producers Collison and Meister spoke with people in the town, then shared the interviews with Stevens. He wrote a song about the ivory-bill, known as the "lord god" or "great god" bird because of its breathtaking appearance. Together, they offer a portrait of Brinkley in word and song.

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