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The ‘America’s Music’ film discussion series comes to WKU

americasmusic WKU Libraries is hosting “America’s Music: A Film History of Our Popular Music from Blues to Bluegrass to Broadway” series to enlighten audiences about uniquely American musical genres including blues and gospel, Broadway, jazz, bluegrass and country, rock n’ roll, mambo, and hip hop. This six-week program series will feature documentary film screenings and scholar-led discussions of 20th century American popular music.

“America’s Music” is a project by the Tribeca Film Institute in collaboration with the American Library Association, Tribeca Flashpoint, and the Society for American Music. “America’s Music” has been made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the Human Endeavor.

“We are thrilled to participate in this exciting program that will help introduce different types of music, show how modern music has been influenced by older styles, and bridge gaps among generations” said Bryan Carson, WKU Libraries professor and coordinator of the project.

In order to understand popular music genres and the eras they represent, the series will consist of several sessions dealing with different musical genres that were born from—and reflect—uniquely American aspects of our history and culture. Most sessions will have a short film, which will be introduced by an expert in that genre. After the film, the expert will discuss what the musical style means to American culture, and will lead an interactive discussion. The sessions and films are as follows:


Thursday, March 28

Topic: “The roles of Women and the Sociology of Popular Music” by Dr. Steven Groce, WKU Dept. of Sociology

Helm Library in Room 100 on WKU main campus, 7 p.m. This program does not have a film; discussion only.


Tuesday, April 2

Film: High Lonesome: The Story of Bluegrass Music

Speaker: Erika Brady, WKU Folk Studies program

WKU Music Hall, Choral Rehearsal Room, 7 p.m.


Tuesday, April 9

Broadway: The American Musical Episode 2: Syncopated City

Speaker: Michelle Dvoskin, WKU Department of Theatre & Dance

WKU Music Hall, Choral Rehearsal Room, 7 p.m.

Without Broadway musicals, there would be no Glee. But, while the roots of American music theatre run deep, it took the social and cultural setting of Prohibition and the 1920s-era Big Apple to make Broadway into the “great white way.” This is the era when Broadway became America’s main street.


Tuesday, April 16

Film 1: Martin Scorsese Presents: The Blues Episode 1: Feel Like Going Home

Film 2: Say Amen, Somebody

Speakers: Clay Motley, WKU Honors College, and John Edumunds, Gospel Artist

WKU Music Hall, Choral Rehearsal Room, 7 p.m.

Popular music reflects not only where people are now, but where they came from. While American musical genres across ethnic lines, they often begin with shared cultural heritage. Blues and Gospel music first arose in the African-American community because of its shared cultural history. Just as Bluegrass came from a Celtic/British Isles heritage concentrated in the Appalachian region, the Blues also developed within the Mississippi Delta. Clay Motley will talk about the Delta heritage and its effects on Blues music.

Gospel music developed as an important way of bringing a more popular style of music into the church, while bringing religion into popular music. It also provided an important outlet for both male and female African-American vocalists at a time when there were not many outlets. Our Gospel expert will be Bowling Green’s own John Edmonds of The John Edmonds’ Gospel Truth.  Edmonds—one of the most famous Gospel musicians of the 1960s and 1970s—had a career spanning five decades and five continents. Having personally met many of the people interviewed in the film, Edmonds will bring his own unique perspective to the history of Gospel music.


Tuesday, April 23

Film 1: Ken Burns Presents Jazz, Episode 6: The Velocity of Celebration

Film 2: International Sweethearts of Rhythm Marshall Scott, WKU Music Department WKU WKU Music Hall, Choral Rehearsal Room, 7 p.m.


Tuesday, April 30

Film 1: Latin Music USA Episode 1: Bridges

Film 2: From Mambo to Hip-Hop: A South Bronx Tale

Speaker: Audrey Gossom (DJ Diamond), WKU Alumnus and local Hip-Hop DJ

WKU Music Hall, Choral Rehearsal Room, 7 p.m.

Contact: Jennifer Wilson, (270) 745-6977.

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