Jack White Recruits Elton John, Nas, Beck for Music History Project

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Jack White performs live. Photo by Teresa Sedó, 2012, via Wikimedia Commons.

Rock purist Jack White is putting together music for a film project called “American Epic” that chronicles the roots of American music.

At the center will be a four-hour documentary produced by T Bone Burnett and actor Robert Redford (who also acts as narrator). For the soundtrack, many modern musicians are providing covers of American music history touchstones.

The five-disc box set, “American Epic: The Sessions,” uncovers newly restored tracks from the earliest days of recorded music. Knowing White, it seems like a dream project, and rest assured he has enlisted several notable musicians to help. Among them is Elton John, who sings with White on the track, “2 Fingers of Whiskey.”

Among the other artists to be included are Nas, who covers “On the Road Again” and “One Mic,” Beck on “Fourteen Rivers, Fourteen Floods,” and even veteran blues musician Taj Mahal who covers the delta blues standard by Charley Patton, “High Water Everywhere, Part 2.”

Burnett recently outlined the importance of this period in history and of uncovering this music in an interview with Variety:

Essentially it was a time when the United States was at its best, when it went into the country and recorded the poorest people in the nation and broadcast their songs and stories all around the world. That was the greatest act of democratization in American history.

The documentary “American Epic” began airing on PBS this week, and the soundtrack is due for release on June 9th but available for pre-order now.

 

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