Let’s just assume Jack White doesn’t sleep. His latest adventure finds him working with producer T Bone Burnett, and director-actor Robert Redford to executive produce a three-part documentary, a feature-length film, and a collection of recordings all titled American Epic.
British filmmakers Bernard MacMahon and Allison McGourty helmed the multi-faceted series, which “takes us on a journey across time to the birth of modern music, when the musical strands of a diverse nation first combined, sparking a cultural renaissance that forever transformed the future of music and the world,” per a press release.
The American Epic documentary “is set in the late 1920s when record company talent scouts toured America with a recording machine and for the first time captured the raw expression of an emerging culture.” White added that the invention of the phonograph gave the underprivileged and oppressed a chance to speak their mind in song. “What they were allowed to say on phonograph recordings, they were not allowed to speak in public or in person,” he said. “That is an astounding thought.”
The American Epic Sessions film captures today’s legends using that same machine for “a once-in-a-lifetime chance to relive the experience of the founding mothers and fathers.” Said legends include: White, Elton John, Willie Nelson, Beck, Nas, Alabama Shakes, Merle Haggard, Taj Mahal, Raphael Saadiq, The Avett Brothers, Los Lobos, Bettye LaVette, Steve Martin & Edie Brickell, and many, many more.
Columbia Records will issue the more contemporary performances. Meanwhile, Sony Music’s Legacy Recordings will be responsible for the archival recordings, which have been restored by Lo-Max Films, Nick Bergh, and Peter Henderson. Naturally, Third Man Records will release a deluxe box of vinyl records.
“This is America’s greatest untold story,” Redford says in a press release. “It’s an account of the cultural revolution that ultimately united a nation.”
The magic begins this fall on PBS and BBC Arena. Watch a preview below.