What do Benny Goodman, Bill Monroe and Bob Dylan all have in common? All are musicians who helped to shape American music during the 20th century.
These musicians and many more will be highlighted when “America’s Music: A Film History of Our Popular Music from Blues to Bluegrass to Broadway” is presented on the Eastern campus from Jan. 11 to April 6. The program focuses on six genres of music that are considered uniquely American: blues and gospel, Broadway, jazz and swing, bluegrass and country, rock ‘n’ roll, and Latino and hip hop.
A variety of programming is planned, including film screenings, music and dance performances, lectures and exhibits. All programs are free, and the public is invited.
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“America’s Music” will begin with an opening concert and reception at 7 p.m. Jan. 11 in the Doudna Fine Arts Center Theatre. The evening will include short clips from the films in the series, as well as performances in the various musical genres. Scheduled to perform are the EIU Jazz Ensemble (jazz), Unity Gospel Choir (gospel), Scott Wattles and the Blue Suede Crew (rock ‘n’ roll), Christine Robertson (Broadway), EIU Percussion Ensemble (Latino), Flat Mountain (bluegrass) and more.
A variety of programs about “America’s Music” will be held from January through April, including screenings and discussion of the following films: “Broadway: The American Musical, Syncopated City”; “Martin Scorsese Presents the Blues: Feel Like Going Home” and “Say Amen, Somebody”; “Ken Burns’ Jazz: Swing, the Velocity of Celebration” and “International Sweethearts of Rhythm”; “High Lonesome: The Story of Bluegrass Music”; “Latin Music USA: Bridges” and “From Mambo to Hip Hop: A South Bronx Tale”; “The History of Rock ‘n’ Roll: Plugging In”; and “Walls of Sound: A Look Inside the House of Records,” a film by David Gracon, communication professor at Eastern.
In addition to presenting these films on campus, each film and discussion will be shown in a public library in East Central Illinois: Danville, Paris, Marshall, Decatur, Shelbyville and Robinson.
Various other related programming will be held on campus during the spring semester, with the “America’s Music” program ending with a closing concert at 7 p.m. April 6 in the Dvorak Concert Hall, Doudna Fine Arts Center. The evening of music and dance will include performances by Reverend Robert, Marilyn Coles, Motherlode, Mark Rubel and Friends, EIU Jazz Ensemble, Unity Gospel Choir, Pink Panthers, EIU Dancers, winners of the EIU Minority Affairs Step Show and other regional artists. Admission is free.
Related exhibits about “America’s Music” will be on display beginning Jan. 28 at Booth Library on the campus of EIU.
The “America’s Music” program is being led by Allen Lanham, dean of library services, and Paul Johnston, associate professor of jazz studies. It is being sponsored in part by Eastern Illinois University, College of Arts and Humanities, Booth Library, Doudna Fine Arts Center and the Coles County Arts Council. The program is made possible in part by a grant from the Ruth and Vaughn Jaenike Access to the Arts Outreach Program of the College of Arts and Humanities, EIU.
“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. It has been made possible by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the Human Endeavor.
During the spring semester, Booth Library’s regular hours are from 8 a.m. to 1 a.m. Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and noon to 1 a.m. Sunday.