American Epic is a new three-part documentary about “the birth of modern music” and old recording technology, executive produced by Jack White, T Bone Burnett, and Robert Redford.
In addition to the documentary there will also be a full-length film called The American Epic Sessions.
Watch a clip from the film, featuring Jack White collaborating with Elton John on an original blues song titled “Two Fingers of Whiskey”.
More About the American Epic Sessions:
The American Epic Sessions arrives June 6th on PBS. Its corresponding soundtrack comes June 9th digitally and on CD formats via Columbia, and June 16th on vinyl through White’s own Third Man Records.
American Epic is a journey back in time to the “Big Bang” of modern popular music.
In the 1920s, as radio took over the pop music business, record companies were forced to leave their studios in major cities in search of new styles and markets. Ranging the mountains, prairies, rural villages, and urban ghettos of America, they discovered a wealth of unexpected talent. The recordings they made of all the ethnic groups of America democratized the nation and gave a voice to everyone. Country singers in the Appalachians, blues guitarists in the Mississippi Delta, gospel preachers across the south, Cajun fiddlers in Louisiana, tejano groups from the Texas Mexico border, Native American drummers in Arizona, and Hawaiian musicians were all recorded. For the first time, a woman picking cotton in Mississippi, a coal miner in Virginia, or a tobacco farmer in Tennessee could have their thoughts and feelings heard on records played in living rooms across the country. It was the first time America heard itself.
Virtually no documentation of these extraordinary events survives and nearly ninety percent of the recording masters have been destroyed. A vital part of American cultural history has been lost.
Over a four-part series, a companion book, a soundtrack featuring 100 remastered songs, an educational outreach program, and a historical archive, American Epic rescues this history. The remarkable lives of America’s seminal musicians are revealed through previously unseen film footage and photographs, and exclusive interviews with music pioneers, their families and eyewitnesses to the era.