America's Music Provides a Six-Week Tour Through Our Nation's Tuneful Heritage

For Immediate Release:
March 29, 2013
Contact: Lorenzo Butler
America's Music Provides a Six-Week Tour Through Our Nation's Tuneful Heritage

Blues. Jazz. Country. Gospel. Bluegrass. Broadway. Rock. Latin.

Among America's many contributions to world culture is our music. From the work chants of the Mississippi Delta to the Celtic-tinged tunes of Appalachia, from the musical theater stage to the Hit Parade tunes churned out by Tin Pan Alley, American music is recognized everywhere.

The lingering heritage of American popular music is explored in America's Music: A Film History of Our Popular Music from Blues to Bluegrass to Broadway, a six-week film/discussion series to be held at the Kansas City Public Library in April and May 2013 through a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The library was one of 50 institutions chosen to host America's Music programs.

Additional support comes from the Tribeca Film Institute, the American Library Association, and Tribeca Flashpoint.

Each of the six programs -- presented on Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m. at the Plaza Branch, 4801 Main St. -- covers a specific musical genre created in the United States.

The evening begins with excerpts from acclaimed documentary films about music, followed by a presentation by Andrew Granade, associate professor of musicology and chair of the Composition, Music Theory and Musicology Division of the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance.

Guests artists will be featured at select events, and a key component of the series is audience participation, with patrons asking questions and commenting from the floor.

Signature Programs
Tuesdays in April and May   
Plaza Branch, 4801 Main St.  
All programs begin at 6:30 p.m.  
A 6 p.m. reception precedes each event.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013 
The Blues and Gospel Music
Featuring excerpts from the films Martin Scorsese Presents the Blues: Episode 1, Feel Like Going Home (2004)and Say Amen, Somebody (1983).
Special guests: Blues authority Lindsay Shannon and Delta blues player Pat Nichols.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013 
Swing Jazz
Featuring excerpts from the films Ken Burns' Jazz: Episode 6: Swing, the Velocity of Celebration (2001) and International Sweethearts of Rhythm (1986)
Special guest: Jazz expert Chuck Haddix.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013 
Broadway and Tin Pan Alley
Featuring excerpts from the film Broadway: The American Musical, Episode 2: Syncopated City (1919-1933) (2004)
Special guest: Broadway historian William Everett.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013 
Country and Bluegrass
Featuring excerpts from the film High Lonesome: The Story of Bluegrass Music (1994)
Special guests: Bluegrass pickers Jack Burlison and Jim McGreevy.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013 
Featuring excerpts from the film The History of Rock n Roll: Episode 6, Plugging In (1995)
Special guest: Bob Walkenhorst, singer/songwriter/guitarist for The Rainmakers.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013 
Latin Rhythms from Mambo to Hip Hop
Featuring excerpts from the films Latin Music USA, Episode One: Bridges (2009) and From Mambo to Hip Hop: A South Bronx Tale (2006)
Special guest: Area rapper Denzel Williams.

Admission is free for all events. RSVP at or call 816.701.3407.


Presented as part of the Library's Missouri Valley Sunday series, The Band that Made Radio Famous, presented by UMKC music historian Chuck Haddix, examines the career of the first Kansas City jazz band to achieve national recognition, the Coon-Sanders Nighthawk Orchestra, on Sunday, April 21, 2013 at 2 p.m. at the Central Library, 14 W. 10th St. 

Haddix is the director of UMKC's Marr Sound Archives, a collection of 250,000 sound recordings. He joined the staff of KCUR-FM in 1984 as a jazz producer and a year later created the long-running blues, jive and zydeco program "Fish Fry" a year later. He is the author of Kansas City Jazz: From Ragtime to Bebop - a History.


Films about various aspects of American popular music will be screened on Saturdays at 1:30 p.m. and Mondays at 6:30 p.m. in April in the Stanley H. Durwood Film Vault at the Central Library, 14 W. 10th St.

Monday, April 1, 2013 
8 Mile (2002)
Marshall Mathers - better known as Eminem - stars in this semi-biographical tale of a young Detroit resident determined to make it in the world of rap. Curtis Hanson directs. With Kim Basinger and Britanny Murphy. (110 minutes: R)

Saturday, April 6, 2013 
Leadbelly (1976): Gordon Parks directs this biopic about roots bluesman Huddie Leadbetter (Roger E. Mosley), who continued to make music even while doing time on a chain gang. (126 minutes ; PG)

Monday, April 8, 2013 
Mo' Better Blues (1990): Not only is Spike Lee's drama about the rise and fall of a trumpeter (Denzel Washington) set in the world of jazz, in its free-flowing style it approximates the playing of jazz. (129 minutes; R)

Saturday, April 13, 2013 
A Great Day in Harlem (1994): In 1958 photographer Art Kane took a group portrait of 57 of NYC's greatest jazz players gathered on the stoop of a Harlem brownstone. Jean Bach's joyous documentary recreates that momentous day through interviews with the participants, making the 55-year-old photograph come alive. (60 minutes; NR)

Monday, April 15, 2013 
Cadillac Records (2008): A fictionalized account of the founding of Chicago's Chess Records and the blues giants - Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters, Etta James, Chuck Berry, Howlin' Wolf - who made up its roster of talent. With Adrian Brody, Mos Def, Beyonce Knowles, Jeffrey Wright, Cedric the Entertainer. (109 minutes; R)

Saturday, April 20, 2013 
American Graffiti (1973): A pre-Star Wars George Lucas directed this tuneful charmer about recent high school grads (Richard Dreyfuss, Ron Howard, Cindy Williams) preparing to leave for college in 1962. Their long night on the town is choreographed to an astonishing collection of early rock recordings. (110 minutes; PG)

Monday, April 22, 2013 
Coal Miner's Daughter (1980): The quintessential rags-to-riches country music saga of Loretta Lynn is brought to life by director Michael Apted and actress Sissy Spacek, who won an Oscar for her performance. (125 minutes; PG)

Saturday, April 27, 2013 
Every Little Step (2008): Real-life dancers struggle through auditions for a Broadway revival of A Chorus Line; meanwhile Adam Del Deo and James D. Stern's documentary probes the show's history and creative team. (96 minutes; PG-13)

Monday, April 29, 2013 
The Mambo Kings (1992): In the 1950s two brothers (Armand Assante, Antonio Banderas) leave Cuba for America, hoping to establish themselves as Latin music sensations. Percussionist Tito Puente makes a guest appearance as himself. (104 minutes; R)


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