Bringing the Stories to the Screen

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The Beautiful Music All Around Us, a film directed by Academy Award-winning filmmaker Paul Wagner, brings to life the stories of singers and instrumentalists from everyday America. The film explores their lives, sources, and contributions.

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, folklore researchers in the 1930s and early 1940s who fanned out across America and off the grid to record its music, caught indelible, if fleeting, representations of their artistry.

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

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