Much of America’s most popular music is coming to Kansas City, Kan., this spring and next fall.
Thanks to a $2,500 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Kansas City Kansas Community College will present a monthly series on “A Film History of America’s Popular Music – From Blues to Bluegrass to Broadway” at the West Wyandotte Library at 1737 N. 82nd St. KCKCC is the only college in Kansas to receive such a grant.
Blues and Gospel will be the focus of the first in the six-part series at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 28. The remainder of the series will include Broadway and Tin Pan Alley, March 28; Swing, April 25; Bluegrass, Sept. 26; Rock, Oct. 24; and Mambo and Hip Hop, Nov. 21.
“Each segment will feature a contextual discussion of the genre’s development, documentary footage of its stars, related artifacts, performances by local artists and refreshments,” said Cherilee Walker, KCKCC dean of humanities and fine arts who wrote the grant and is serving as project scholar.
The series will also spotlight the West Wyandotte Library’s extensive music collection which includes more than 5,000 items including CD’s and albums of every type of music – from jazz to hip hop and classical to country – and numerous books on the history and great arts from the library’s fine arts collection.
“We’re really looking forward to it,” said Laura Loveless, Wyandotte West branch manager. “A lot of people don’t realize all the types of music that’s free to check out to broaden their music horizons. I just wished this had happened sooner and lasted longer.”
Cheryl Postlewait, director of the KCKCC Library, will serve as project librarian. Both Walker and Postlewait took part in a training session sponsored by the American Library Association recently in Chicago. The West Wyandotte Library and KCKCC will be joined in presenting the series by El Centro, Inc., which will provide translations in Spanish.
Each session will feature a documentary film on the era and significance of each particular mode of music from the Tribeca Film Institute. In addition, there will be discussions putting the various types of popular music into historical context, artifacts obtained locally and from the Tribeca Film Institute and performances by local artists. As part of the grant, KCKCC will have lifetime public performance rights to the documentary films.
An outstanding vocalist, Walker has opened for such well-known artists as Willie Nelson, The Mills Brothers, John Hammond Jr. and the Four Lads and sung in more than 35 countries throughout the world with the U.S. Navy and NATO bands. Active as an Army Reservist, she sung the national anthem at Wrigley Field for the Chicago Cubs for their 2012 Memorial Day tribute to service members.
Walker will have a wealth of musical talent to draw from through students and faculty of the KCKCC Music Department.
In addition to local sponsorship KCKCC, the West Wyandotte Library and El Centro, Inc., national sponsors include the American Library Association, Tribeca Film Institute and the National Endowment for the Humanities.