America's Music: More information

"America's Music" is a film viewing and discussion series that will focus on uniquely American musical traditions and take place over the course of twelve weeks. The six sessions focus on these uniquely American musical genres: blues and gospel, Broadway, jazz, bluegrass and country, rock ’n’ roll, and mambo and hip hop.

Registration is required and at capacity for all programs. Registration is now closed.

Schedule of Events

Unit 1: The Blues and Gospel Music

Explore the birth of the blues from its African roots to its eventual prominence in places like Memphis, Chicago, New York and beyond.

Films: Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues (2004) Episode 1: Feel Like Going Home and Say Amen, Somebody (1983)

Scholar: Dr. Jim Hiller

Unit 2: Tin Pan Alley and Broadway

The 100-year history of musical theater and the story of its relationship to 20th-century American life.

Film: Broadway: The American Musical (2004) Episode 2: Syncopated City - 1919-1933

Scholar: Dr. Jim Hiller

Unit 3: Swing Jazz

Spans nearly a century of jazz styles, while also highlighting America's first integrated all-women swing band.

Films: Jazz: A Film by Ken Burns (2000) Episode 6: Swing, The Velocity of Celebration

International Sweethearts of Rhythm: America’s Hottest All Girl Band (1986)

Scholar: Dr. John McCombe

Unit 4: Country Music, from Bluegrass to the Nashville Sound

Traces the emergence of bluegrass from Appalachian descendants of Scotch-Irish settlers into a popular subgenre of country music.

Film: High Lonesome: The Story of Bluegrass Music (1994)

Scholar: Dr. Jim Hiller

Unit 5: Rock

Moving between past and present to explore the birth of the blues out of the Mississippi Delta.

Film: History of Rock ‘N Roll (1995) Part 6: Plugging In

Scholar: Dr. John McCombe

Unit 6: From Mambo to Hip Hop

How mambo—the Cuban hybrid of traditional danson fused with syncopated Afro-Caribbean rhythms—migrated to New York City from Havana in the 1940s and broke social and musical rules.

Films: Latin Music USA: Bridges (2009) and From Mambo to Hip Hop (2006)

Scholars: Dr. John McCombe and Dr. Thomas Morgan

Scholar Bios

Dr. Jim Hiller is a performer and scholar of American Popular Song and Lecturer of Music Therapy at University of Dayton. He earned his Ph.D. in Philosophy and Master of Music Therapy from Temple University. Dr. Hiller teaches a popular course entitled Development of American Popular Song and can also provide a unique point of view as a music therapist.

Dr. John McCombe is Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies in English at University of Dayton. He earned his Ph.D. in British Literature at The Ohio State University. At UD, Dr. McCombe regularly teaches courses in British literature, film, and composition, as well as occasional special topics courses on Bob Dylan, Michael Jackson, and the Beatles.

Dr. Thomas Morgan is an Associate Professor of American and African American Literature in the Department of English at the University of Dayton. His research interests focus on the politics of narrative form and the short story in late-nineteenth-century periodical culture. 

Program Schedule

Each film screening and discussion program will last 2 hours. Here is the schedule for each event:

6:00-6:15 Welcome by project director and introduction of the program's subject and film by scholar

6:15-7:10 View film 

7:10-7:20 Break 

7:20-7:50 Discussion led by scholar

7:50-8:00 Scholar wraps up discussion, highlighting important ideas from the discussion, and reminds participants about the next program's film and reading