University of Chicago Laboratory Schools announce 9-month educational program based on the "American Epic" films, music and book

Beginning on October 10, 2017 and running across 15 grades, from Nursery to High School


NEW YORK, Oct. 11, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- The Emmy-nominated American Epic films directed and co-written by Bernard MacMahon and executive produced by Robert Redford, T Bone Burnett and Jack White tell the story of how music scouts in the Roaring Twenties set out across America and discovered the artists that shaped our musical world. The films have garnered widespread acclaim for their historical research and fostering a new understanding of American history.

Legacy Recordings logo. Division of SONY Music Entertainment. (PRNewsFoto/Legacy Recordings)

The University of Chicago Laboratory Schools founded by legendary progressive American educator John Dewey in 1896 has over 2,015 students enrolled in 15 grades. Former alumni include President Obama's children Malia and Sasha, Sherry Lansing former CEO of Paramount Pictures and the first woman to head a Hollywood studio, Edward H. Levi, the 71st United States Attorney General and Geoffrey Ward the seven-time Emmy award-winning screenwriter and author.

American Epic producer and co-writer Allison McGourty commented, "John Dewey believed that art was the most effective mode of communication that exists. He believed every person was an artist. He also fervently believed in democracy and espoused pragmatism which is the practical application of ideas. These are three of the core tenets of American Epic, so the partnership was a perfect fit for us. We were so pragmatic we actually rebuilt the 1920s recording system to see what we could learn from it."

The inaugural Kistenbroker Family Artist In Residence program features two of the films creators, Director Bernard MacMahon and Creative Producer/Writer, Allison McGourty, as "Artists in Residence."

Lab School Board Chair David Kistenbroker stated "this program is designed to further Lab's mission by bringing practicing artists to campus, in various capacities, to work directly with Lab students. The artist in residence concept—successfully tested in other ways at Lab—has the potential to ignite creativity in entirely new and unexpected ways," says Mr. Kistenbroker. "By working side-by-side with leading artistic practitioners, our students and our faculty benefit. It is absolutely consistent with how John Dewey envisioned a community of learners."

Since 2006 McGourty and MacMahon have been on a mission to rescue and preserve the history of the United States through their vast American Epic project. They have travelled to over 37 states, interviewing hundreds of families and scouring attics and basements, collecting vintage film footage and hundreds of photographs that haven't been seen in nearly a century.

Says Director Bernard MacMahon "America's greatest export to the world is music. In the 1920s the first sound recordings of all the ethnic groups of America democratized the nation and gave a voice to all its people. For the first time, a woman picking cotton in Mississippi, a coal miner in W. Virginia or a tobacco farmer in Tennessee could have their thoughts and feelings heard on records played in living rooms across the country. No documentation of these extraordinary events survives and nearly ninety percent of the music masters have been destroyed. A vital part of American cultural history has been lost - until now."

Says Allison McGourty. "The most important aspect of American Epic is preserving and making accessible this vast archive for future generations to come. We are committed to making this vital history available to schools across America and this program will help to make that a reality. American Epic will foster an appreciation of the arts and technology in the younger generation, and will leave a lasting legacy for decades to come."

Music Department Chair, Rozalyn Torto said, "This will be a school-wide initiative. The team will help create interdisciplinary curriculum for students in Nursery through High School."

Says Ms. Heusing, who has been instrumental in helping to realize Lab Arts, "Our hope for this program is that it will raise the profile of Lab's arts programs, and enable us to recruit students who have an interest in art. We can provide an exceptional experience for all our students by creating more opportunities for our faculty to explore and put into practice new ideas for teaching and learning in the arts."

Says Elton John "American Epic is more than a music documentary, this is history."

Steve Martin said " Everything about American Epic is flawless."


SOURCE Legacy Recordings

For further information: Tom Cording, 1-212-833-4448,