What's New

'America's Music' Like You've Never Heard it Before

By: Marcey Evans

'America's Music' is coming to the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library (3030 Poplar Avenue), starting September 12.

See America's Music FREE Concert Schedule!

A hand-clapping, toe-tapping good time is coming to the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library (3030 Poplar Avenue) for America’s Music, a series of films, discussions, and musical presentations.

Wang-Ying Glasgow, Adult Services Coordinator of the Memphis Public Library and Information Center, is event organizer. Below, she discusses the high notes of America's Music.

Q: What is America’s Music?

A: America’s Music is a six-part public program series featuring documentary screenings, scholar-led discussions, and live performances of 20th century American popular music. The full program’s name is America’s Music: A Film History of Our Popular Music From Blues to Bluegrass to Broadway. It was created by the Tribeca Film Institute in partnership with the American Library Association, and the National Endowment for the Humanities, in consultation with the Society of American Music.

Q: What kinds of music can music lovers expect during the six-part program?

A: The six sessions will focus on what is considered uniquely American music genres: Blues and Gospel, Tin Pan Alley and Broadway, Jazz, Bluegrass and Country, Rock and Roll, and Mambo and Hip Hop.

Q: What big names (musicians) will attend America’s Music?

A: The musicians who are performing are Alvie Givhan and Earlice Taylor for Blues & Gospel; Joyce Cobb will perform Tin Pan Alley and Broadway; Jeremy Shrader is a wonderful Jazz performer; Cypress Creek of Tennessee will perform Bluegrass and Country; Matt Tutor will perform Rock and Roll; and Luis Bonilla will perform Mambo and Hip Hop. Luis Bonilla is the musician from New York.

Q: How much does each concert cost?

A: Free, free, free! That’s the best part! Not only do you learn something, but you get the free live performance with some of the best musicians that Memphis can offer, and one is from New York.

Q: Who is the scholar(s) leading discussions for America’s Music?

A: The scholar who will lead each session is Dr. Jack Cooper, the associate professor and director of Jazz Studies and Studio Music at Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music at the University of Memphis.

Q: How did the program come to the Memphis Public Library and Information Center?

A: This is really a grant that we applied for. Fortunately, we received it. There are two libraries in the state of Tennessee that received this grant, and we were one of them.

Q: Why is America’s Music such a novelty for the Memphis community or the everyday music lover?

A: Memphis is a city with a rich music heritage. So, we definitely can get a lot of good performers. We are proud to be known as the home of the Blues and the birthplace of Rock and Roll. Memphians are exposed to a lot of music, but in this series people will see documentaries offering background on the music, and then a professor will lead discussions before a live performance. It’s a learning opportunity. It’s a full package!

See America's Music FREE Concert Schedule!

America’s Music is a project of the Tribeca Film Institute in collaboration with the American Library Association, Tribeca Flashpoint, and the Society for American Music. America’s Music was made possible by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the Human Endeavor.

Local sponsors for the program include Honey Scheidt, the Memphis Library Foundation, and the Friends of the Library. Local partners are the Memphis Public Library and Information Center in tandem with the City of Memphis, the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music, the University of Memphis, and the Memphis Music Commission.