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Travel the country in search of unknown 1920s artists, when the music of ordinary Americans was recorded for the first time, transforming music forever, in a three-part film narrated by Robert Redford, featuring Jack White, Nas, Taj Mahal and others.

Tune in for American Epic Tuesdays, May 16, 23 & 30 at 8:00 p.m. on Nine PBS

American Epic

Out of the Many, the One | Episode 3

Aired: 2017-05-30 12:00:001:24:26 Expires: 06/28/17 Rating: NR

Discover how America’s diverse cultures and Mississippi John Hurt transformed music.

Episode Guide:

Episode 1: “The Big Bang” - Tuesday, May 16 

At the height of the Roaring Twenties, music scouts armed with cutting-edge recording technology set out across America to capture the breadth of American music and discover the artists that would shape our world. The recordings they made of all the ethnic groups of America democratized the nation and gave a voice to everyone. It was the first time America heard itself. As told by music pioneers, their families and eyewitnesses, we travel back in time to the “Big Bang” of modern popular music with the Carter Family, Will Shade and the Memphis Jug Band.

Musicians featured: The Carter FamilyMemphis Jug Band, Charlie Musselwhite, Jack White, Nas, and Taj Mahal. Narrated by Robert Redford.

Episode 2: “Blood and Soil” - Tuesday, May 23

From the sanctified shout of the gospel church to the coal mines of West Virginia to the cotton fields of Mississippi, music provided relief from tough lives and hard times. New rhythms were born in the echoes of stomping feet, the bite of pick-axes and the ambling gait of tired mules. Almost a century later, the quest for singers remembered only as vague names on battered shellac discs brings those stories back to life.

Musicians featured: Elder J.E. BurchDick Justicethe Williamson Brothers and CurryFrank HutchisonHowlin’ WolfCharley PattonSon HouseRobert Lockwood Jr.Honeyboy EdwardsHomesick James, and Taj Mahal. Narrated by Robert Redford.

Episode 3: “Out of the Many, the One” - Tuesday, May 30

Exotic cultures spanning America are captured on record for the first time — inventing new instruments and new cultural identities as disparate voices harmonize in a musical melting pot. The myriad threads of America’s musical tapestry include Hopi priests traveling to Washington to defend their sacred snake dance; an 11-year-old Hawaiian boy who invents the steel guitar; a teenage Tejana shaking the border with a ferocious feminist tango learned from a gum wrapper; the fightingest frères on the bayou turning a lament for a pretty blonde into the Cajun national anthem; and a gentle Delta farmer who sings a nostalgic song of his hometown and inspires the greatest rediscovery of the ’60s folk revival.

Musicians featured: the Hopi Indian ChantersJoseph KekukuLydia Mendozathe Breaux FrèresMississippi John HurtTaj MahalCyril Pahinui, and Louis Michot. Narrated by Robert Redford.