The first in a six-week program series of documentary film screenings and scholar-led discussions of 20th Century American popular music will kick off on Monday, Jan. 27 at The University of Texas-Pan American. The series, free and open to the public, will continue on consecutive Mondays through March 3.
The series - "America's Music: A Film History of Our Popular Music from Blues to Bluegrass to Broadway" - will enlighten audiences about uniquely American Musical genres including blues and gospel, Broadway, jazz, bluegrass and country, rock n' roll, mambo, and hip hop. Its presentation at UTPA was made possible by a $1,500 grant received by the Library from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring Human Behavior. UTPA is one of 71 sites nationwide selected to host the program series, a project by the Tribeca Film Institute in collaboration with the American Library Association, Tribeca Flashpoint, and the Society for American Music.
"We are thrilled to participate in this exciting program that will introduce different types of music, show how music has been influenced by previous styles, and bridge gaps among generations of listeners," said Dr. Farzaneh Razzaghi, UTPA Library dean.
Among the documentaries scheduled are "Say Amen Somebody," "Latin Music USA," "From Mambo to Hip Hop: A South Bronx Tale," "High Lonesome: The Story of Bluegrass Music," as well as episodes from the TV series "Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues," "The History of Rock 'n' Roll," "Broadway: The American Musical," and "Ken Burns' Jazz." Dr. Richard Davis from the music faculty will lead audiences in discussion following the film screenings.
A special event in the series will be held in the UTPA Student Union Theater Feb. 24 from 11:45 a.m.-1 p.m. when filmmaker John J. Valadez will be here to present his film "Latin Music USA: The Chicano Wave." Valdez's film captures some of the South Texas musical artists who became nationally famous. A discussion with Valadez will follow the screening.
"All our programs will be held during the spring semester and we hope to see a number of winter visitors participate in them, along with students, faculty, staff and local residents," said Virginia Haynie Gause, media and marketing librarian and the film series project director.
Gause said "America's Music" is designed for a general audience and will introduce genres of 20th Century American popular music that are deeply connected to the history, culture, and geography of the United States. She said older and younger Americans alike will have the chance to recognize how the cultural landscape that they take for granted today has been influenced by the development of the popular musical forms discussed in this series. Gause noted that the series is not meant to offer an all-inclusive treatment of 20th Century popular music but instead each screening and discussion will examine an important American musical genre in the context of key social and historical developments.