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Dahlonega Campus to host America's music film series

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A scene from the documentary "Say Amen, Somebody," which chronicles the history of gospel music in America. Copyright 2012 George Nierenberg

From blues to bluegrass, the University of North Georgia will be taking a look at music that is uniquely American in the series "America's Music: A Film History of Our Most Popular Music." The series begins Jan. 15; all screenings will be on UNG's Dahlonega Campus and are free and open to the public.

UNG is one of 50 sites selected nationwide to host the film series, a six-session program featuring documentary film screenings and scholar-led discussions of 20th-century music. The Jan. 15 screening focuses on blues and gospel music and features a screening of "Say Amen, Somebody" and "Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues." Local gospel group The Spiritual Voices will perform at 5 p.m. in the Library Technology Center; the documentary screening will follow at 6 p.m.

Dr. Esther Morgan-Ellis, who teaches music at UNG, leads discussions about the historical context and social impact of each musical genre throughout the series.

"For more than a hundred years the United States has boasted the most influential popular music traditions in the world," Morgan-Ellis said. "American popular music has had a profound global impact in the commercial, cultural and artistic spheres. This film series is a wonderful opportunity to experience some of the startlingly original and deeply passionate music traditions that have arisen in America over the past century."

The "America's Music" series explores a different musical genre's influence on American life during each session. Funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, all sessions will be held in the Library Technology Center on UNG's Dahlonega Campus.

The series takes place on consecutive Wednesdays in January and February. Participants are welcome to join any number of sessions, which start at 6 p.m. and last about 90 minutes to two hours. RSVPs are appreciated to julie.housknecht@ung.edu or 706-864-1807.

The "America's Music" sessions are:

  • Jan. 15: The blues and gospel music are featured in an episode of "Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues" and the documentary "Say Amen, Somebody."
  • Jan. 22: The music of Broadway and Tin Pan Alley is featured in an episode of the Emmy-winning series "Broadway: The American Musical."
  • Jan. 29: Swing jazz is covered in an episode of "Ken Burns' Jazz" and the documentary "International Sweethearts of Rhythm."
  • Feb. 12: The histories of country and bluegrass are traced in the documentary "High Lonesome: The Story of Bluegrass Music."
  • Feb. 19: The emergence of rock and roll is featured in an episode of "The History of Rock and Roll."
  • Feb. 26: Latin rhythms from mambo to hip hop are the subject of an episode of "Latin Music USA" and the award-winning film "From Mambo to Hip-Hop: A South Bronx Tale."

"America's Music" is a project by the Tribeca Film Institute in collaboration with the American Library Association, Tribeca Flashpoint and the Society for American Music. For more information, visit the UNG Libraries website at http://ung.edu/libraries/americas-music.php.

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