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Part 1: The Big Bang

Episode 1 of 4

Series telling the stories of the pioneers of American roots music. The 1920s saw record companies travel rural America to record the music of ordinary people.

The first episode takes us back to 1920s America, where the growth of radio had shattered record sales. Record companies travelled rural America and recorded the music of ordinary people for the first time. The poor and oppressed were given a voice as their recordings spread from state to state.

The film introduces the early recordings of The Carter Family, the founders of modern country music, steeped in the traditions of their isolated Appalachian community. It also features Will Shade and the Memphis Jug Band, whose music told the story of street life in Memphis, and laid the foundations for modern-day rap and R'n'B.

Robert Redford narrates this meticulously researched story of a cultural revolution that changed the world.

1 hour

Last on

Mon 6 Aug 2018 02:00

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Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes


Role Contributor
Narrator Robert Redford
Director Bernard MacMahon
Producer Bernard MacMahon
Series Editor Anthony Wall
Producer Allison McGourty
Producer Duke Erikson
Executive Producer T Bone Burnett
Executive Producer Robert Redford
Executive Producer Jack White
Participant Nas
Participant Charlie Musselwhite
Participant Taj Mahal
Production Company Lo-Max


Featured in...

BBC Music Presents… Arena: American Epic

Extracts and performances from a series celebrating the pioneers of American roots music.