Geoffrey C. Ward, writer of a major new book and 19-hour
documentary (directed by Ken Burns) on the subject, discusses the joys and wonders of our native art form
Reflections on the Rat Pack
Everybody knows what they did. This is what they meant.
A singer’s journey through the life of Irving Berlin
Bessie Smith was the greatest blues singer of all time; and her influence still permeates popular music though almost no one listens to her records. An appreciation by an eminent jazz singer.
LOCKED IN A STRANGE, TESTY COLLABORATION lit by the fires of a burning world, George M. Cohan and James Cagney produced a masterpiece of popular history in which everything is true except the facts
ALBERT MURRAY SEES AMERICAN CULTURE AS AN incandescent fusion of European, Yankee, frontier, and black. And he sees what he calls the “blues idiom” as the highest expression of that culture.
Wynton Marsalis believes America is in danger of losing the truest mirror of our national identity. If that’s the case, we are at least fortunate that today jazz’s foremost performer is also its most eloquent advocate.
You’ve probably never heard of them, but these ten people changed your life. Each of them is a big reason why your world today is so different from anyone’s world in 1954
It’s the fastest-growing music in America. It’s a three-billion-dollar-plus industry. Cable stations devoted to it reach sixty-two million homes. And yet, says one passionate follower of country music past and present, its story is over.
A veteran recalls the everyday courage of a threadbare generation
Ethel Waters was an innovative and terrifically influential singer, and she broke through racial barriers in movies, theater, nightclubs, radio, film, and television, opening doors for everyone who came after her. She deserves to be much better remembered.
It opened fifty years ago and changed Broadway forever
The great Czech composer arrived on these shores a century ago and wrote some of his most enduring masterpieces here. Perhaps more important, he understood better than any American of the day where our musical destiny lay.
Seventy-five years ago this month, a not especially good band cut a record that transformed our culture
Robert Johnson died in obscurity in 1938; since then he has gradually gained recognition as a genius of American music. Only recently have the facts of his short, tragic life become known.
It didn’t last long. But we never got over it.
Lorenzo Da Ponte, New York bookseller and Pennsylvania grocer, was a charming ne’er-do-well in the eyes of his fellow Americans. He happened, also, to have written the words for Don Giovanni and The Marriage of Figaro .
The men and women who labored in the ghostly light of the great screen to make the music that accompanied silent movies were as much a part of the show as Lillian Gish or Douglas Fairbanks
The great tenor came to America in 1903, and it was love at first sight—a love that survived an earthquake and some trouble with the police about a woman at the zoo
The ceaseless clatter of cheap pianos from a mid-Manhattan side street was once music to all America
… illuminated by the hand-tinted slides that helped make it a hit
Americans don’t hesitate to say anything they please about a public performance. But the right to do so wasn’t established until the Cherry Sisters sued a critic who didn’t like their appalling vaudeville act.
How a young New York society matron named Alice Shaw dazzled English royalty with her extraordinary embouchure
An Inquiry Into the Origins of Jazz
But was Louis Moreau Gottschalk America’s first musical genius or simply the purveyor of sentimental claptrap?
The Story Behind a Legend
An Interview With the King of Swing
The story of the world’s longest-running radio program and the extraordinary American music it helped make popular
Jenny Lind and P.T. Barnum