AMERICA AT WAR is an invigorating march down the American timeline all the way back to the country´s origins, dramatizing how important Popular Song has been to the success of the wars we have had to wage in our 200+ year history.
Songs that every American child used to know and should still know have their roots in the key conflicts that truly have made America The Land of the Free and The Home of the Brave: the Revolutionary War (“Yankee Doodle”), The War of 1812 (“The Star Spangled Banner”), The Mexican-American War (“The Marines’ Hymn”), the Civil War (“Rally ´Round the Flag,” “Dixie,” “Tramp, Tramp, Tramp,” “The Bonnie Blue Flag,” “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”), the Spanish-American War (“Go Tell the News to Mother,” “A Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight”); in the twentieth century, the countless inspirational, often humorous, always poignant songs of two World Wars including those of George M. Cohan and Irving Berlin; and even into contemporary times with the songs that have braced Americans during both the Gulf War and currently in the ongoing war that began on September 11th.
War is an ugly but necessary hardship to endure as the price for a civilized, free life, now and always. The songs sung in wartime have done as much or more than anything to fortify our brave Armed Forces and the American public waiting safely back at home. These stirring words and melodies born of historical events are as pure a reflection of a free, vital People as anything that exists, a celebration of that uniquely American ability to create beauty and hope out of anything, even the brutality of armed conflict.
When Walt Whitman proclaimed “I hear America singing!” he meant in both good times and bad, and these wonderful songs bear that out.
If you would like to engage Fred Miller for one of his Lectures-in-Song, please contact him directly at any time. For a full listing of all Lectures, click here.
Fred Miller’s Lectures-In-Song comprise a series of solo programs, each an historical, anecdotal and musical profile of some great personality or important aspect of American Popular Song. These Lectures are delivered by singer/pianist/narrator Miller at the piano, and each reflects his lifetime passion and appreciation for great music. He studied classical piano in his hometown of Albuquerque from ages 7-15 but early on gave up any notion of music as a profession. At that time, Fred assumed a musical career was either one devoted to the rigid discipline of classical music or being a freewheeling rock star, and he accurately decided he had no aptitude for either. However, at age 22, upon hearing Ella Fitzgerald sing Cole Porter, he found his calling and life’s mission.
Through the Seventies and Eighties, Miller studied and absorbed in minute detail the life and times and songs of nearly all the great American composers and lyricists who thrived during Broadway & Hollywood’s Golden Age between the two World Wars. In 1987, he founded Silver Dollar Productions in order to produce operettas, dramas, musicals and small cabarets. Silver Dollar Productions required ensemble casts, props, costumes and, most significantly, the challenges of publicity and selling tickets, and for a dozen busy years, the company presented an unbroken string of varied and highly lauded performances.
In 1999, Miller was simultaneously underwritten by both his local Hunterdon County Library and the Art Alliance of Philadelphia to present a series of six solo Lectures-In-Song, each devoted to one of the premiere Broadway/Hollywood songwriters: George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, Richard Rodgers, Jerome Kern, and Harold Arlen.
In presenting history, biography and psychology while sitting at a piano singing the superlative songs of his heroes, Miller has found a single performing medium that utilizes most of his intellectual and musical passions.The list of Lectures-In-Song that began with six in 1999 is now more than seventy(and growing!), a joyful tribute to the boundlessly rich field of American Popular Song.