Bringing the Stories to Life

Based on Stephen Wade’s book The Beautiful Music All Around Us: Field Recordings and the American Experience, this three-part film series brings to life the stories of creative singers and instrumentalists from everyday America.

Recognizing their powerful cultural influence
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. The musicians were mostly unknown and unheralded. They lived as domestics, farm laborers, state prisoners, schoolchildren, cowboys, housewives and mothers, loggers and miners.

Yet, they 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 stories have become part of the greater American soundscape.