IT ALL STARTED WHEN…
Songmasters’ executives asked themselves a simple question:
What would happen if we used historically important American songs to teach kids about American history and civics?
So much creative energy, passion, and vision along with so many questions and possibilities emerged as we gave this question serious thought.
Now, several years later, with seed funding from the Ford Foundation and with more than 80 founding advisors, current experts and partners from the worlds of education, civil society, business, media and entertainment joining, guiding and collaborating with us, we have an answer: The American Road®
This project is our collective vision. Together, we have developed a fully-integrated educational, community engagement and media program slated to reach 16 million students within three years of launch.
This project is a labor of love for Songmasters and an expression of the deep belief of we have that music unites and moves us; history shapes us; and our communities – and they way we relate to each other in them – determine our lives powerfully.
We also believe in the power of media and technology to do good. We know that media, technology and popular culture have dramatically changed the way young people receive and process information, learn about the world around them, and find their “place” in this new world. We know that young people have an affinity for music and celebrity, and that both can and will resonate throughout their lives.
And we believe the dawn of the 20th century to now – a period of upheaval, change, and acceleration, of advances and setbacks in achieving and balancing rights and responsibilities, a period that began with silent movies and first-ever recorded songs in which technology has changed every aspect of life – is a superb foundation on which to prepare a new generation in new ways and with new tools to become informed, active and engaged members of their communities and this country.
Knowing these things, we came to this answer to our question: historically important American songs let us capture the experiences of every generation in its own voice, offering a unique lens through which to tell the compelling story of how, in modern America, we created the country we are today and set our future path toward a more perfect union.
Using music in this way captures the long spiral of each generation’s efforts to express their experience of this journey, building voice by voice and era by era on the gains and losses, hopes and challenges of others. Music reveals a fresh perspective on the long path of modern American history, how it brings us to now and shapes our common future. It lets us tell this story though many voices and in many different ways to show our common humanity. It allows us to invite and give opportunity to young people to add to this story in their own voices and with their own creativity.
On the pages that follow, you will learn more about our work, our people, and our progress on The American Road.
Among our supporters, we are honored to have received the recognition and endorsement of the late Congressman John Lewis (D-GA) just days before he passed away. In a letter to the Secretary of the Smithsonian, he gave tribute to his lifelong Congressional friend and colleague, the late Rep. Amo Houghton (R-NY), who also championed this project and worked with Rep. Lewis successfully to garner broad bi-partisan and bi-cameral interest and support for The American Road.
We hope you will join us on The American Road. The journey belongs to all of us.