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Legacy of Cedar Falls musician continues nearly four decades after his passing

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Talk of Iowa, hosted by Charity Nebbe

A country blues artist whose life and music was featured at the Hearst Center for the Arts earlier this year is now being recognized posthumously with the 2022 Melendy Spirit Award from the Cedar Falls Community Foundation.

Musician Eddie Bowles grew up in New Orleans where he learned to play guitar alongside Louis Armstrong and Kid Ory. After getting married in 1911, he moved to Cedar Falls in search of work. He was one of the first Black residents in the city where he lived until he passed away in 1984, at the age of 100. He was an extraordinary musician who lived a full and compassionate life. Thanks to the recent work by Jim O’Loughlin and students from the University of Northern Iowa, a compilation of Bowles' work can be heard online, and Iowans can take an augmented reality tour of the sites in and around downtown Cedar Falls that played a significant role in his life.

Later in the episode, Talk of Iowa host Charity Nebbe talks with the creative forces behind The Machine Stops, an opera premiering this month in Coralville that was inspired by a science fiction story by British author E.M. Forster.


  • Jim O'Loughlin, languages and literatures department head and professor, University of Northern Iowa
  • John Lake, composer
  • Cecile Goding, librettist
Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa
Samantha McIntosh is a talk show producer at Iowa Public Radio. Prior to IPR, Samantha worked as a reporter for radio stations in southeast and west central Iowa under M&H Broadcasting, and before that she was a weekend music host for GO 96.3 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.