Carrie M. Best/A Digital Archive

Elvis Presley. Bill Haley and the Comets. Fats Domino. The hit makers of early rock 'n' roll were not what Carrie Best had in mind that Sunday afternoon in 1954 when she turned on the radio in search of a little relaxation. She couldn't find a radio station that offered the kind of inspiration she was looking for. And so, Best hit the air waves with her own radio show, a mixture of poetry and music she called The Quiet Corner.

On her very first broadcast she offered up a concoction as opposite rock'n'roll radio as can be imagined, a recitation of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's The Day is Done, followed by a 78 rpm recording of Robert Schumann's Traumeri by violinist Mischa Elman. She rounded out the hour with more poetry and musical gems from the sacred to the operatic.

As unconventional as the show was, it found an audience. Best spent the next 12 years entertaining her listeners with what she called her portraits in poetry and music.

The show, she wrote in her 1977 autobiography That Lonesome Road, was one of the most satisfying experiences of her professional life. She liked most of all that it allowed her to draw on the storehouse of poems she had memorized dating back to childhood, among them this favourite from black American poet Paul Laurence Dunbar. Listen as Best recites a passage from the poem When Malindy Sings for friends at a party held in honor of her 93rd birthday.