Art, Dance, Drama, and Music

Sincere Forms of Flattery: Blacks, Whites, and American Popular Music

In this presentation, Billy Stevens demonstrates how historic interactions between African Americans and European Americans shaped the evolution of American popular music. With its roots in slavery and the fusion of musical traditions brought from both Africa and Europe, American music is a natural outgrowth of the unique culture of the American South.

Requirements: 
Lectern (Mr. Stevens brings his own sound system)

Samson and Delilah: From Pulpits to Pop Stars

Billy Stevens demonstrates the impact of Negro spirituals on American popular music with a fascinating journey spanning a century of American history. Using archival recordings of two songs based on the biblical story of Samson and Delilah, “My Soul is a Witness,” and “If I Had My Way,” Stevens describes how spiritual songs contributed to American popular music while transforming African American culture into the mainstream.

Requirements: 
Lectern (Mr. Stevens brings his own sound system)

Discovering Elvis: Tracing Traditions to the Soul of the King

The story of the discovery and rise to fame of this teenager from Tupelo parallels the musical interaction between black and white communities defining American popular music from the early 1800s to the present day.

Requirements: 
Lectern (Mr. Stevens brings his own sound system)

America’s Music Down to Its Roots

This presentation looks at the past, present and future of what has become known as Roots music in the United States. The historical origins of various types of music including Blues, Folk, Country and Bluegrass, are examined, along with key figures in the development of these genres. The lecture raises questions about the meaning of “Roots” music and the search for “authenticity” in discussing such music. The current state of Roots music, the impact of the internet, MySpace, YouTube and other online means of sharing music are examined.

Requirements: 
LCD projection system, screen

Rockabilly Head to Toe

Rockabilly music came of age in America in the 1950s. The style evolved out of post-war country-boogie, hillbilly, and rhythm & blues. Between 1945 and 1954 these disparate musical styles crossed paths and developed the hybrid known as rockabilly. While many people are familiar with the early artists of the genre, such as Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley, there were literally hundreds of lesser known artists who enjoyed regional fame through the music.

Requirements: 
LCD projection system, screen

Outside the Frame: The Astonishing Life of Whistler’s Mother

This program, complete with slides, focuses on Anna Whistler’s life in nineteenth-century America, Czarist Russia, and bohemian London, where she lived with her eccentric son, the brilliant artist James McNeill Whistler. William McNeill, a relative of Anna, traces the history of the Whistler’s Mother portrait from a nineteenth-century masterpiece to a twenty-first century American icon and popular culture object of caricature.

Requirements: 
Two 20-foot extension cords, an AV cart

Tango! The Song! The Dance! The Obsession!

This program helps spread the joy of Argentine tango. It features stunning dance segments from video films of international tango shows. While giving a brief history of tango music and dance, William McNeill explores its growing popularity in NC. In addition to demonstrating the musical elements—pulse, rhythm, and melody—he illustrates a few dance steps. He explains how tango involves not only the body but also the soul. McNeill aims to intrigue and delight all those who are fascinated by tango’s beauty and mystery.

Requirements: 
30” TV (or larger) with DVD player and remote control

Fannin’ the Heat Away: A Celebration of the Art and Social History of the Handheld Church Fan

In a program of old-fashioned show-and-tell, William McNeill celebrates a vanishing relic of southern Americana: the handheld church fan. While showing his large collection of vintage church fans, he explores their place in Protestant Christian art and reveals how the fans have served as devotional icons. He also illustrates the important role church fans have played in the world of advertising and in the kitsch visual culture of the American South.

Requirements: 
Two 20-foot extension cords, an AV cart

Roots Music and the American South

Nowhere is the rich cultural diversity of the American South more evident than in its music. From the high, lonesome sound emanating from Appalachian hollers to the “lowdown shaking chill” of blues performers in Delta juke joints, Americans, and Southerners in particular, have long expressed their worries, fears, hopes and aspirations through music.

Requirements: 
Lectern

Southern Craft: A Revival in the Mountains

At the end of the nineteenth century, mountain craftsmen formed the cornerstone of a revived interest in things handmade. Ideas concerning the value of work inspired a craft revival that flourished well into the twentieth century. At issue were varied interpretations of cultural traditions, implications for regional identities, methods of promotion and education, and the aesthetics of traditional objects. In the mountain South, shared ideas concerning quality and resourcefulness contributed to an unintentional community of patrons and makers.

Requirements: 
Lectern, LCD projection system
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