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Kansas’ only non-profit American roots music school
To teach, promote and support the advancement of all forms of American music and its influences, and to pass on the grand traditions of American-based roots music to future generations.
What the Americana Music Academy Provides
Nestled at the southern end of downtown, Americana Music Academy offers group and private music lessons in a relaxed setting with some of the region's most notable pickers, players and songwriters. In addition, Americana provides Music Therapy for the disabled community in Lawrence and the greater Kansas City area. Americana is also building Kansas’s first American Roots Music Archive.
In the future the Academy will provide music outreach programs, first for Northeast Kansas and later for the entire state.
Americana is doing more than just teaching music lessons. It is creating a regional folk life center so that Lawrence and the surrounding cities and towns will have greater access to the musical folk culture of this area.
The Americana Music Academy History
The Americana Music Academy, located in Lawrence, is Kansas’s only non-profit American Roots Music School. The Academy first opened its doors in January of 2002 and has been providing the area with affordable instruction in American roots music instruments such as banjo, mandolin, folk and country fiddle styles, bluegrass guitar and much more.
About American folk music
American folk music, also known as Americana, is a broad category of music including country music, gospel, old time music, jug bands, Appalachian folk, blues, Tejano and Cajun and Native American music. The music is considered "American" because it is either native to the United States or here varied enough from its origins that it struck musicologists as something distinctly new; it is considered "roots music" because it served as the basis of music later developed in the United States, including rock and roll, rhythm and blues, and jazz.
Roots musical forms reached their most expressive and varied forms in the first two to three decades of the 20th century. The Great Depression and the Dust Bowl were extremely important in disseminating these musical styles to the rest of the country, as Delta blues masters, itinerant honky tonk singers and Latino and Cajun musicians spread to cities like Chicago, Los Angeles and New York. The growth of the recording industry in the same approximate period was also important; increased possible profits from music placed pressure on artists, songwriters and label executives to replicate previous hit songs. This meant that fads like Hawaiian slack-key guitar never died out completely as rhythms or instruments or vocal stylings were incorporated into disparate genres. By the 1950s, all the forms of roots music had led to pop-oriented forms. Folk musicians like the Kingston Trio, pop-Tejano and Cuban-American fusions like boogaloo, chachacha and mambo, blues-derived rock and roll and rockabilly, pop-gospel, doo wop and R&B (later secularized further as soul music) and the Nashville sound in country music all modernized and expanded the musical palette of the country.
Notable roots musicians include Woody Guthrie, Son House, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Leadbelly, Mahalia Jackson, Washington Phillips, Fiddlin' John Carson (1868 - 1949) and Jean Ritchie (b 1922). More recent musicians who occasionally or consistently play roots music include Keb' Mo', Béla Fleck, Iron & Wine, and Ricky Skaggs. Additionally, the soundtrack to the 2000 comedy film O Brother, Where Art Thou? is exclusively roots music, performed by Alison Krauss, The Fairfield Four, Emmylou Harris, Norman Blake and others. The 2003 film A Mighty Wind is a tribute to (and parody of) the folk-pop musicians of the early 1960s.