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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.

Genres: History | Music
Station: PBS (US)
Rating: 0/10 from 0 users
Status: Ended
Start: 2017-05-16

American Epic Season 1 Air Dates


S01E01 - The Big Bang Air Date: 16 May 2017 21:00 -

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At the height of the Roaring Twenties, music scouts armed with cutting-edge recording technology set out across America to capture the breadth of American music and discover the artists that would shape our world. The recordings they made of all the ethnic groups of America democratized the nation and gave a voice to everyone. It was the first time America heard itself. As told by music pioneers, their families and eyewitnesses, we travel back in time to the "Big Bang" of modern popular music with the Carter Family, Will Shade and the Memphis Jug Band.


S01E02 - Blood and Soil Air Date: 23 May 2017 21:00 -

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From the sanctified shout of the gospel church to the coal mines of West Virginia to the cotton fields of Mississippi, music provided relief from tough lives and hard times. New rhythms were born in the echoes of stomping feet, the bite of pick-axes and the ambling gait of tired mules. Almost a century later, the quest for singers remembered only as vague names on battered shellac discs brings those stories back to life.


S01E03 - Out of the Many, the One Air Date: 30 May 2017 21:00 -

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Exotic cultures spanning America are captured on record for the first time - inventing new instruments and new cultural identities as disparate voices harmonize in a musical melting pot. The myriad threads of America's musical tapestry include Hopi priests traveling to Washington to defend their sacred snake dance; an 11-year-old Hawaiian boy who invents the steel guitar; a teenage Tejana shaking the border with a ferocious feminist tango learned from a gum wrapper; the fightingest frères on the bayou turning a lament for a pretty blonde into the Cajun national anthem; and a gentle Delta farmer who sings a nostalgic song of his hometown and inspires the greatest rediscovery of the '60s folk revival.


S01E04 - The American Epic Sessions Air Date: 07 June 2017 01:00 -

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American Epic Actors

Robert Redford(Narrator)



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