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The River Whispers Her Name


On this special episode of Arts & Letters, we’ll be featuring a The River Whispers Her Name: A Christmas Tale, penned and performed by Jay Grelen, based on the book by the same name.

Four-year-old Rebekah Freeman wanders away from her house, her mother, father and brother, Four Door, in search of an elusive Christmas package.

The River Whispers Her Name chronicles Rebekah's misadventures beginning on the eve of Christmas Eve in the marshes of Alabama.  

As the Christmas boxes arrived in Magnolia, Art Radley would stack them in the southwest corner of the Magnolia Springs post office, and as the tradition dictated, he didn’t deliver a single Christmas package on the Magnolia River until three days before the big day. . . And when he showed up with the boat piled high, it looked more like Santa’s sleigh than the real thing …
Credit Sloane Grelen
Writer, novelist, and sweet tea connoisseur, Jay Grelen

Over his 35-year newspaper career, Jay Grelen worked for 10 newspapers including papers as far west as the Denver Post, as far east as the Myrtle Beach Sun News, and as far south as the Mobile Register

He wrote the "Sweet Tea" column for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette from 2004 to 2011. He currently is a member of Governor Asa Hutchinson's communications team.

The Damsels in Distress, Lauren and Micah Sukany

His novel April 19 is due out in 2020. His daughters inspired The River Whispers Her Name, which was first published as a three-part Christmas story for the Mobile Register in December 1995.

Thank you to musicians, singers and songwriters Tim Anthony and Frank Thurmond on the lute. A special thanks to The Damsels In Distress, who created the score.

Listen to the song "Fishing At Midnight " by The Damsels In Distress.


Thank you to actors Kyle Deen, Sloane Grelen, Michael DeAngelis, Michael Hibblen, Miles Miller, Dan Shelton, and Annika Deen as Rebekah.

Actors who contributed their voices to the episode.

Thank you to Stickyz Rock ‘N’ Roll Chicken Shack for keeping music alive and well in Arkansas.

This episode is dedicated in honor of Jay Grelen's daughters who inspired this story.

Generous funding for this episode was provided by the Arkansas Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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Executive Producer & Host: J. Bradley Minnick Producer: Mary Ellen Kubit Interns: Kaitlin Strain & Josh Enloe

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