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Exploring America’s music origins through film

Movie series to examine gospel, blues in first class

POSTED: January 9, 2014 1:00 a.m.

 From blues to bluegrass, the University of North Georgia will delve into the music industry unique to the United States for the next six weeks.

“America’s Music: A Film History of Our Most Popular Music” series will begin Jan. 15 with an exam of blues and gospel music. The two featured pieces will be an episode of “Martin Scorsese Presents the Blues” and the documentary “Say Amen, Somebody.”

Local gospel group The Spiritual Voices will perform at 5 p.m. in the Library Technology Center; the documentary screening will follow at 6 p.m.

UNG is one of 50 sites selected nationwide to host the six-session series featuring documentary films and scholar-led discussions of 20th century music. The free screenings will be at 6 p.m. on consecutive Wednesdays in January and February in the Library Technology Center on the University of North Georgia campus in Dahlonega.

Esther Morgan-Ellis, who teaches music at UNG, will lead the discussions about the historical context and social impact of each musical genre throughout the series.

“For more than a hundred years, the United States has boasted the most influential popular music traditions in the world,” Morgan-Ellis said. “American popular music has had a profound global impact in the commercial, cultural and artistic spheres. This film series is a wonderful opportunity to experience some of the startlingly original and deeply passionate music traditions that have arisen in America over the past century.”

The 90-minute to 2-hour sessions explore a different musical genre’s influence on American life during each session. The remaining “America’s Music” sessions are:

Jan. 22: The music of Broadway and Tin Pan Alley is featured in an episode of the Emmy-winning series “Broadway: The American Musical.”

Jan. 29: Swing jazz is covered in an episode of “Ken Burns’ Jazz” and the documentary “International Sweethearts of Rhythm.”

Feb. 12: The histories of country and bluegrass are traced in the documentary “High Lonesome: The Story of Bluegrass Music.”

Feb. 19: The emergence of rock ’n’ roll is featured in an episode of “The History of Rock and Roll.”

Feb. 26: Latin rhythms from mambo to hip hop are the subject of an episode of “Latin Music USA” and the award-winning film “From Mambo to Hip-Hop: A South Bronx Tale.”

RSVPs are appreciated to julie.housknecht@ung.edu or 706-864-1807. For more information, visit the UNG Libraries website at http://ung.edu/libraries/americas-music.php.


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