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Bringing Their Stories to the Screen

This three-part film series, directed by Academy Award-winning filmmaker Paul Wagner, brings to life creative singers and instrumentalists from everyday America. It is based on Stephen Wade’s acclaimed book, The Beautiful Music All Around Us: Field Recordings and the American Experience. 

Recognizing their powerful cultural influence
The featured musicians were mostly unknown and unheralded, except in their home communities. They lived as domestics, farm laborers, state prisoners, schoolchildren, cowboys, housewives and mothers, loggers and miners. Fortunately, their music was recorded by folklore researchers in the 1930s and early 1940s who fanned out across America and off the grid to record its music.

These musicians have had a surprisingly powerful influence on our culture. They brought their own creativity to the music they received, remade, and then passed on — “amplifying tradition’s gifts.”

One by one, their musical stories have become part of the greater American soundscape.