Jack White’s documentary series American Epic will tell the story of artists and talent scouts who began recording blues music across the U.S. in the 20’s.
A “four-part television event,” the series is a co-production between White, Robert Redford and T Bone Burnett. The series collected over 20 film festival official selection honors worldwide.
White says: “A lot of these songs changed the world. They changed popular music and popular culture around the world for the last 100 years.” White’s views are echoed by Redford – who narrates, and Elton John, who calls it “an important cultural document.”
American Epic will premiere on PBS May 16. The documentary is accompanied by The American Epic Sessions, a film featuring new performances by contemporary musicians, using century-old equipment. Guests include White, John, Beck, Willie Nelson, the late Merle Haggard, Taj Mahal, and the Alabama Shakes – who described the experience as “one of the coolest things we’ve ever done.”
A 100-song box set of archive recordings and some from the new sessions will hit stores May 12, in collaboration between Sony Music’s Legacy Recordings and White’s Third Man Records. A book, American Epic: The First Time America Heard Itself, will be released by Touchstone May 2.