From blues, jazz and country to funk, rap and rock’n’roll, the United States is as much a patchwork quilt of musical genres as it is a cultural melting pot. A new IMAX film premiering soon at the Tennessee Aquarium IMAX 3D Theater shows how this many-voiced chorus came together to create America’s musical song.
On June 21, the Tennessee Aquarium will cap off Chattanooga’s daylong celebration of Make Music Day by hosting an evening of musical performances at the IMAX 3D Theater leading up to the premiere of America’s Musical Journey.
This new film by giant-screen experts MacGillivray Freeman (Everest, National Parks Adventure) is narrated by Morgan Freeman and hosted by Grammy Award-nominated R&B artist Aloe Blacc. From the infectiously brazen sound of New Orleans jazz bands to the sizzling beat of Miamian salsa and conga artists, Blacc embarks on an American musical road trip that reveals how the intermingling of cultures gave birth to styles and sounds that have been treasured and iterated upon all over the world.
“A movie about American music is really a movie about the human experience,” said screenwriter/editor Stephen Judson. “There’s something exciting that happens when different cultures come together as they have through the last couple hundred years of American history and one of the things that happens is incredible creativity.”
“In America, we have always experienced how music brings us together. You have a nation where people can have many differences of opinion and lifestyle but then you can go to a concert and everybody’s there sharing equally in that joy.”
Among the film’s featured artists is Tennessean singer and banjo virtuosa Willow Osborne. In the film, the 17-year-old Pigeon Forge native visits the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville with Blacc to discuss the origins of bluegrass and country music. Ms. Osborne will be the featured artist and speaker at the Tennessee Aquarium IMAX 3D Theater on June 21.
For her part, she says she hopes the film’s message about the power of music to inspire and entertain resonates with audiences, especially younger viewers.
“I really hope that kids see this film and say ‘I want to play music,’” she said. “Music is so important. Life should be filled with music.”
Ms. Osborne’s appearance will cap off an evening packed with music to enjoy and to create. Before the 7 p.m. debut of America’s Musical Journey on Chattanooga’s largest screen, the theater lobby will echo with the sound of West African percussionist and singer Kofi Mawuko and acoustic art-pop trio Spinster.
For those interested in making their own music that evening, the Creative Discovery Museum will be on hand with boomwhackers to satisfy would-be percussionists and a make-your-own instrument activity aimed at younger guests. The Chattanooga Symphony and Opera will offer up a musical petting zoo where guests can lay hands and fingers on a variety of instruments.
Register online for the America’s Musical Journey 3D premiere event on Thursday, June 21, from 5:30-8 p.m. attnaqua.org/events-programs
America’s Musical Journey3D will be shown daily at the Tennessee Aquarium IMAX 3D Theater at 6 p.m. with additional screenings at 9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays beginning June 22.
For more information or to purchase tickets online, visit tnaqua.org/imax/americas-musical-journey-3d.
Seven Musical Notes You May Not Have Known (Until now):
- Only 18 percent of people report hearing music in their dreams.
- Elvis is inducted into five Halls of Fame – Country, Rock’n’Roll, Gospel, Rockabilly and R&B.
- Music stimulates more parts of the brain than any other human activity.
- Fisk University’s Jubilee Singers started touring in the 1870s to raise funds for the university and helped spark Nashville’s musical reputation.
- The words “cool,” “hip,” and “funky” come from slang used by early jazz musicians in the 1920s.
- The “chills” you sometimes get when listening to music are caused by the release of dopamine in your brain.
- Despite global fame, Louis Armstrong chose to live in a humble house in Queens, NY and often played for the neighborhood kids. His home is now a museum.
Cast of America’s Musical Journey 3D:
- Aloe Blacc
- Jon Batiste
- Gloria Estefan
- Emilio Estefan
- Ramsey Lewis
- Doctor John
- Willow Osborne
- The Fisk Jubilee Singers
- Pause Eddie
- Donnetta “Lil Bit” Jackson
- The Flying Elvi
- Lil Buck
- Maya Jupiter
- Amelia Rudolph
- Melecio Estrella