Narrated by Robert Redford, the film depicts how the music of ordinary Americans was recorded for the very first time. The segments depict the extraordinary story set in the late 1920s when record company talent scouts toured the States with a recording machine and for the first time captured the raw expression of an emerging culture. The filmmakers follow the recording machine’s trail across the United States to rediscover the families whose recordings would lead to the development of blues, country, gospel, Hawaiian, Cajun and folk music without which there would be no rock, pop, R&B or hip hop today. The series culminates with the American Epic Sessions, featuring contemporary artists in recording sessions using original recording equipment from the era. The full three part series and The Sessions will also air in several other international territories with the BBC (United Kingdom), ARTE/ZDF (France and Germany), and Canal Plus (Spain) among them.
The Sessions is an album of exclusive new recordings produced by Jack White and T Bone Burnett. Among those taking part were Elton; Alabama Shakes; Beck; Merle Haggard (with Willie Nelson); Bettye LaVette; Nas; Los Lobos; Raphael Saadiq; and Jack White.