Hollywood & The Great Depression
There is no better way to experience the continuous, dramatic shifts and spirit in twentieth century American life than to delve into its popular music. To that end, pianist/singer/narrator Fred Miller has been presenting his extensive series of Lectures-In-Song for nearly a decade. Each of the 60+ different Lectures examines through anecdote and song some personality or important aspect of America´s Golden Age of Popular Song.
Fred´s original series of 6 Lectures-In-Song: Popular Song As American History moves from era to era beginning with the late 19th century thru both World Wars and beyond, ending on the time line at that abrupt, pivotal moment [really just a few months] when the President was assassinated and the Beatles arrived [1963-1964]. There is one final 7th program, a postscript to this series, showcasing the musical high points on the American scene from 1965 on.
Although it would be impossible not to mention Gershwin, Porter, Berlin, Rodgers, Mercer and the dozens of other giants covered in previous Lectures-In-Song, this series focuses almost entirely on songs, songwriters, performers and personalities not mentioned previously.
1892-1919: “How Ya Gonna Keep ´Em Down On The Farm?”
Immigration, World War And The New Music
1920-1929: “Happy Days Are Here Again!”
The Jazz Age And The Birth Of Radio
1930-1937: “Who´s Afraid Of The Big Bad Wolf?”
Hollywood And The Great Depression
1938-1945: “Sentimental Journey”
WWII And The Big Bands
1946-1956: “Music! Music! Music!”
Postwar Prosperity And The Rise Of Rock
1957-1964: “Try To Remember”
The Youth Culture Takes Over
1965-1988: “How Do You Keep The Music Playing?”
Social Upheaval And The British Invasion
In all seven installments of Popular Song As American History, Miller points out various historical items of popular culture, lingo, new inventions, crazes, commercial products and most importantly, the popular songs of each distinct American era.
America has never been the same since 1964, and neither has her popular music. Our country´s history and her music apparently move in tandem.
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.