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Hudson, Faculty Review American Popular Song Nov. 13

November 5, 2003

Featuring Hudson, accompanist Ron Lewis, professor of piano, and Kristen Todd, assistant professor of music history, the program explores the evolution of American song from its roots in ragtime and Tin Pan Alley, through New Orleans Style jazz, and into barbershop-style paradigms.

The program includes well-known works like "She's Only a Bird in a Gilded Cage," "Down By the Old Mill Stream," "Just a Closer Walk with Thee, "The Man I Love," and "With a Song In My Heart," and some lesser-known examples, including "O, What a Pal Was Mary," "Always Take a Girl Named Daisy," and "Won't You Play a Simple Melody."

The program also features members of the OBU faculty Ron Davis, Jon Gruett, Paul Hammond, and John Simons in a barbershop quartet, Chris Bade, Jim Hansford, Kevin Pruiett, and Philip Todd in a New Orleans Style jazz ensemble, and Bryan Kirby and Jo Lewis as pianists.

"To me, this music will be lost as a performing area unless we revive it." Hudson said. She began studying these pieces several years ago and performs them, as she puts it "as music from my mother's piano bench. Many songs (on the program) came from my learning them when I was a kid."

Todd, who will be participating as a narrator and delivering some history of the evolution of popular song in American life, suggests that "American popular song as an art form is too valuable to let slip away. These pieces provide us with a window on the roots of what is now popular song -- indeed, popular culture. In many ways, the parallels between early 20th-century and early 21st- century popular song are striking. While now we have music videos and CD covers to illuminate the music, then they used sheet music covers to expand a song's meaning. Toward that end, we'll be showing a number of sheet music illustrations to expand our exploration into this repertory. It is indeed an interesting study."

The concert is free and open to the public. For more information, contact the Division of Music at 405-878-2306, or at