America’s Music Film Series
America's Music Film Series 

The Blues and Gospel Music | Latin Rhythm from Mambo to Hip Hop | Broadway and Tin Pan Alley |
Swing | Country and Blue Grass | Rock ‘n’ Roll

About America's Music

America's Music is a six-week series of public programs created by the Tribeca Film Institute in partnership with the American Library Association, National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Society for American Music.

Programs feature documentary screenings and scholar-led discussions of 20th-century American popular music. Six sessions will focus on uniquely American musical genres: blues and gospel, “Broadway,” “jazz,” “bluegrass and country,” “rock 'n' roll,” and mambo and hip hop. See the films included in the program.

The series is open to the public. Download the programs sessions for scholar essays, suggested readings, discussion points and additional films on the genres. And join America's Music Facebook Group for updates and where you can chat with scholars and music fans. If you're on Twitter, use the hashtag #americasmusic.

Access this online guide to locate library resources about the different music genres highlighted in the film series.

All film screenings are free and open to the public.

If you have questions about the America’s Music film series at Rollins College please contact Susan Montgomery, Public Services Librarian, at 407-646-2295 or by email at

The Blues and Gospel Music

Tuesday, September 10
4 – 6 p.m.
Bush Auditorium, Bush Science Center

Martin Scorsese Presents the Blues: Episode 1, Feel Like Going Home
Martin Scorsese (2003)

Director Martin Scorsese (The Last Waltz, Raging Bull, Gangs of New York) pays homage to the Delta blues. Musician Corey Harris travels through Mississippi and on to West Africa, exploring the roots of the music. The film celebrates the early Delta bluesmen through original performances (including Willie King, Taj Mahal, Otha Turner, and Ali Farka Toure) and rare archival footage (featuring Son House, Muddy Waters, and John Lee Hooker).

Accolades for the film include:
Grammy Award Winner – Best Historical Album
Emmy Award Nomination – Outstanding Non-Fiction Series
Emmy Award Winner – Outstanding Cinematography for Non-Fiction Program

Learn more about the film >>

Say Amen, Somebody
Produced and Directed by George T. Nierenberg (1983)

This 1982 documentary breaks down the roots of gospel music and examines the lives and careers of a handful of since-departed gospel stars who helped create the genre from which so many other forms of music flowed.

Accolades for the film include:
Screenings at Telluride, New York, Toronto, London, Cannes Film Festivals
Boston Society of Film Critics – Best Documentary of the Year
One of 10 Best Films of the Year: People Magazine, Rolling Stone, Miami-Herald, At the Movies, Chicago Sun Times

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Latin Rhythm from Mambo to Hip Hop

Wednesday, September 25
4 – 6 p.m.
Cornell Fine Arts Museum

Latin Music, USA: Episode One: Bridges
Pamela A. Aguilar and Daniel McCabe (2009)

Narrated by Jimmy Smits, this documentary traces the rise of Latin jazz and the explosion of the Mambo and the Cha Cha Cha as they sweep the U.S. from East to West and the influence Latin Music has on R&B and rock ‘n’ roll through the 1960s.

Accolades for the film include:
IDA Documentary Award

From Mambo to Hip Hop: A South Bronx Tale
Henry Chalfant, Elena Martinez, and Steve Zeitlin (2006)

From Henry Chalfant (co-director of Style Wars), this hour-long documentary tells a story about the creative life of the South Bronx, beginning with the Puerto Rican migration and the adoption of Cuban rhythms to create the New York salsa sound; continuing with the fires that destroyed the neighborhood, but not the creative spirit of its people; chronicling the rise of hip-hop from the ashes.

Accolades for the film include:
ALMA Award – Best Television Documentary

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Broadway and Tin Pan Alley

Wednesday, October 9
4 – 6 p.m.
Bush Auditorium, Bush Science Center

Broadway: The American Musical, Episode 2: Syncopated City
Produced by Michael Cantor (2004)

With the advent of Prohibition and the Jazz Age, America convulses with energy and change, and nowhere is the riotous mix of classes and cultures on Broadway. It’s the age of “Whoopee” and the “Charleston,” Runnin’ Wild and the George White Scandals. The Gershwin brothers, the minstrels of the Jazz Age, bring a “Fascinating Rhythm” to an entire nation. Innovative songwriting teams like Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart ignite a new age of bright, clever lyrics with the massive hit “Manhattan.” But as the Roaring Twenties come to a close, Broadway’s Jazz Age suffers the one-two punch of the “talking picture” and the stock market crash, triggering a massive talent exodus to Hollywood and putting an end to Broadway’s feverish expansion.

Accolades for the film include:
Emmy – Outstanding Nonfiction Series
Emmy – Outstanding Sound Mixing for Nonfiction Program
Golden Satellite Award – Best Documentary DVD

Learn more about the film >>

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Swing Jazz

Wednesday, October 23
4 – 6 p.m.
Bush Auditorium, Bush Science Center

Ken Burns’ Jazz: Episode 6: Swing, the Velocity of Celebration
Ken Burns (2001)

The pulsing Kansas City sound of Count Basie's Band came to New York and quickly reignited the spirit of swing. Soon Basie's lead saxophonist, Lester Young, challenges Coleman Hawkins for supremacy, matching the old sax-master's muscular sound with a lighter, laid-back style of his own. Young teams with Billie Holiday for a series of masterful recordings. By the decade's end, Chick Webb has achieved national fame by taking a chance on a teenage singer named Ella Fitzgerald.

Accolades for the film include:
Five Emmy nominations
Television Critics Association Award – Outstanding Achievement
Writers’ Guild of American Award – Best Documentary

Learn more about the film >>

International Sweethearts of Rhythm
Greta Schiller and Andrea Weiss (1986)

From the Piney Woods School in the Mississippi Delta to the Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York City, this toe-tapping film tells the story of the International Sweethearts of Rhythm, America’s first integrated all-women swing band. A 16-piece band with a strong brass section, heavy percussion, and a deep rhythmic sense, the Sweethearts were not just a novelty but featured many of the best female musicians of the day.

Accolades for the film include:
Oberhausen, Leipzig, New York Film Festivals
Silver Award – Philadelphia Film Festival
Blue Ribbon – American Film Festival

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Country and Blue Grass

Wednesday, November 6
4 – 6 p.m.
Bush Auditorium, Bush Science Center

High Lonesome: The Story of Bluegrass Music

Rachel Liebling (1994)

This 1991 documentary frames its historical survey around Bill Monroe, the father of Kentucky bluegrass. As Monroe visits his old Kentucky home, now dilapidated and full of memories, the film traces the emergence of bluegrass from Appalachian descendants of Scotch-Irish settlers, and a variety of bluegrass greats (including narrator Mac Wiseman) offer informative anecdotes, accompanied by evocative archival footage and concert performances from the bluegrass festival circuit.

Accolades for the film include:
Chicago International Film Festival – Gold Plaque
Atlanta Film Festival – Best Feature Documentary
Houston International Film Festival – Silver Award
American Film Festival – Red Ribbon

Florida Folksinger Chris Kahl will be performing at Winter Park Public Library on Wednesday, Nov. 13 from 7:00 - 8:00 pm.

Chris Kahl will take audiences on a "Musical Journey Through Florida" with a folk-style performance highlighting key aspects in Florida history.  This show features original songs that cover a wealth of Florida history, characters, and folklore.

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Rock ‘n’ Roll

Wednesday, November 20
4 – 6 p.m.
Bush Auditorium, Bush Science Center

The History of Rock n Roll: Episode 6, Plugging In
Susan Steinberg (1995)

Executive produced by Quincy Jones and respected writers Peter Guralnick and Greil Marcus listed as consultants, this series serves as an introduction for neophytes and a refresher course for experts. Beginning in the pre-rock days of bluesman Muddy Waters and boogie woogie master Louis Jordan and continuing through the death of Kurt Cobain and the birth of the Lollapalooza festival in the mid-1990s, along the way dozens of big-name performers are on hand to lead us through the story.

Accolades for the film include:
National Emmy Nomination
C.I.N.E. Golden Eagle Award winner