The Kirkland Town Library (KTL) and Hamilton’s Burke Library are joint recipients of  a $2,500 National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) grant to fund a program  “America’s Music: A Film History of Our Popular Music from Blues to Bluegrass to Broadway.” The grant will enable KTL and Burke Library to host a six-week program series featuring documentary film screenings and scholar-led discussions of 20th century American popular music. The series will begin in September 2013.

The series is designed to enlighten audiences about unique American musical genres including blues and gospel, Broadway, jazz, bluegrass and country, rock ‘n’ roll, mambo and hip hop. KTL and Burke Library are among 50 sites nationwide selected to host this program series.

“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. The program has been made possible by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities:  Exploring the Human Endeavor.

Lydia Hamessley, program director and Hamilton College professor of music, said, “We’re happy to participate in this exciting program that will introduce the Hamilton College and Clinton communities to American music through films and documentaries that explore traditional and contemporary musical styles. Live musical events will supplement the film series and will feature local and guest artists.”

“We’re excited about piloting this unique partnership between Hamilton College and the Kirkland Town Library,” added Anne Debraggio, KTL director. “The films shown will alternate between an on-campus venue and the library. All the films and the majority of the supplemental programming are free and open to all ages.”

“America’s Music,” designed for a general audience, will introduce genres of 20th century American popular music that are deeply connected to the history, culture and geography of the United States. Older and younger Americans alike will have the chance to recognize how the cultural landscapes that they take for granted today have been influenced by the development of the popular music forms discussed in this series.

The onset of the 20th century brought pervasive changes to American society. During the early part of the century, these social changes combined with new technologies to create a mass market for popular music that evolved over the next hundred years. Each of the six programs in the “America’s Music” series will examine an important American musical genre in the context of key social and historical developments, with events in American music history acting as a catalyst for that examination.

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