Blues in the Schools

We made this film because of the lack of Blues Education in our schools.  I'm not just talking about only music education either, but art and fashion and film and all these other aspects of our lives have been influenced by the Blues, yet it is all but left out of our history books and our teachings about American culture.  As Dr Gil Cook is quoted saying in the movie "We are incapable, it seems like alot of the times, of valuing Black Art as it is.  It always has to go through this mainstreaming process." It's for that reason that we made this film. To show how far and deep the impact of Blues Music is on our lives, and why it's so important to keep or start teaching Blues in the Schools.

Topics Covered in the Film

  • Introduction - A look at racism and a brief overview of the great migration and the spread of Blues across the country.
  • Musical Impact - An exploration of the various genres of music and how they were influenced by Blues Music.
    • Gospel - A look at field hollers, spirituals and how "Gospel Music" was born of a Blues man.
    • Jazz - Both experts and Jazz Legend Terence Blanchard discuss how Jazz and Blues are extentions of each other.
    • Country - From Jimmy Rodgers to the Banjo, even country music can trace much of its roots back to the Blues.
    • Rhythm & Blues - We look at how Blues became R&B and then became Blues again as R&B became Rock & Roll.
    • Rock & Roll - The most obvious and well known influence of Blues music is discussed with music and archival footage.
    • Hip Hop - Hip Hop expert Gil Cook and Multi Platinum Producer Drumma Boy discuss the Blues and Hip Hop Connection.
  • Cultural Imapact - A look at the influence of Blues on other aspects of Popular American Culture and society.
    • Art - Blues isn't just music, it's Art, and it inspires other Art.  As told by some of the Artists themselves.
    • Language - Author & Musician Debra Devi gives a lesson on the Language of the Blues.
    • Literature - African American Literature and the myth of Robert Johnson are looked at from a critical perspective.
    • Theater - Famed Playwright Robert Earl Price talks about his modern retelling of the Robert Johnson Myth,
    • Film & Media - Film Composers Terence Balnchard & Ira Newborn discuss Jazz & Blues in the Movies, & much more.
    • Sexuality in American Culture - A good argument is made expressing how Blues helped loosen up an uptight America.
    • Tourism - We journey from Historical Clarksdale to the Famous Beale Street in Memphis to explore Blues tourism.
  • The Power of the Blues - Several Well Known Musicians discuss why they think the Blues is so Powerful.
  • The State of the Blues Today - Comments on "Keeping the Blues Alive" and the music industry today.
  • Closing Song performed A Capella by the 2013 Grammy Nominated Heritage Blues Orchestra Trio.

Lesson Plans

The purpose of this film is to show us that the Blues has touched our lives in more areas than just as the precursor to Rock and Roll. For that reason, we have developed a series of 4 lessons that incorporate the Blues into not only Music but Art, Literature and Film. These lessons can be adapted for younger or older students and we encourage teachers to start teaching your children about this rich and vastly influential art form as soon as possible. The Lessons can me downloaded or viewed below and combined with the film, will be a great addition to your classroom.

America's Blues Lesson Plan

Educational Licenses

Educational License - With PPR* - $100 per year or $225 for lifetime

Licenses include all Non-Theatrical/Educational Rights and Public Performance Rights (PPR) which permits America's Blues to be screened in-house for educational purposes only. Educational screenings may not be publicly advertised with paid advertising, and must be screened for non-paying audiences. Purchase includes one DVD copy and an HD digital file download. Additional Copies for lending purposes are $10 apiece after the license is obtained. For a yearly license, or to book the Director for a screening and panel discussion, send us a message on our Contact Page.

Lifetime Licenses include both the Full 84 Minute Version and the 55 Minute Grade School Version that does not contain the section on sexuality and condenses some of the racial content. By purchasing a lifetime Educational License, you are agreeing to the following LICENSE TERMS.

Digital Site License - $150 for 3 years or $350 for lifetime

A Digital Site License (DSL) grants educational institutions and/or non-profit organizations a limited license to host and stream a film online to students, faculty and staff on their password-protected server. The cost of this license is $150 for 3 years or $350 for a lifetime license. The key advantage of purchasing a DSL is that once uploaded, an unlimited number of viewers can access the film from multiple locations simultaneously. A Digital Site License also includes the right to broadcast the film on a Campus-Only Telvision station for the duration of the license.

3 Year Licenses can be purchased below for $150 By purchasing a 3 Year Digital Site License, you are agreeing to the following LICENSE TERMS.

Lifetime Licenses can be purchased below for $350 By purchasing a lifetime Digital Site License, you are agreeing to the following LICENSE TERMS.

Community Screenings - $250

By purchasing a community screening license, you are able to screen the film as many times as you like for one day, at one location, and you may charge admission or accept donations for admission. We encourage the use of America's Blues community screening licenses for fundraising purposes, and offer discounted whole-sale prices on retail copies of the film to sell at the screening in order to recoup some of the license fee cost in addition to any admission rates charged. Plus, if you order at least 10 wholesale DVD's at $10 apiece, we'll knock the screening fee down to $200.  So for $300 you get 10 DVDs to sell and a 1 day Community Screening License.

Email us through our Contact Page for more information.

PPR* (Public Performance Rights)

Licenses which include Public Performance Rights (PPR) allow America's Blues to be screened in-house for educational purposes only. Educational screenings may not be publicly advertised, and must be screened for non-paying audiences.


For more information or to purchase a license Digital Site License or Yearly Educational License, call us at 314-337-4923 or send us a message on our Contact Page.

"The Blues Foundation was very excited to choose 'America's Blues' as the Official Documentary of the International Blues Challenge. We feel that this film does a stellar job of helping the viewer understand the historical context of the blues as it relates to bigger cultural issues within our society. Our audiences's feedback was overwhelmingly positive to both the content of the movie as well as its entertainment value."

Barbara B. Newman
President & CEO at the Blues Foundation

"I’m not surprised that America’s Blues has been winning awards. It does a better job than any blues documentary I can think of—and I mean any—in placing the music in dialogue with the full range of its contexts: not just African American social history, but jazz, film, literature, drama, tourism, and fashion. Patrick Branson and Aaron Pritchard have avoided what I’d call the “usual suspects” syndrome in the matter of interviewees, giving screen-time not just to a broad array of contemporary blues performers ranging from Leo “Bud” Welch and Bill Sims, Jr. to Samantha Fish and Jimbo Mathus, but to scholars such as Houston A. Baker, Jr. and Patricia R. Schroeder, foreign-born entrepreneur Theo Dasbach, and jazz trumpeter/composer Terence Blanchard. This documentary manages to celebrate the inescapably African American roots and continuance of this great American music and, without seeming contradiction, document its spread far beyond African American communities. America’s Blues is a winner—and a must-see for any blues fan, scholar, or performer."

Adam Gussow, PhD
Author, Musician and Associate Professor of English and Southern Studies at the University of Mississippi

"In an climate of Racing to the Top and Leaving No Children Behind, we educators constantly seek tools to make meaningful strides in the classroom. America's Blues is the epitome of Cultural Relevance and vital to a pedagogy meant for African Americans and students of the South."

Dr Julius Bailey
Author, African American Scholar and Associate Professor of Philosophy at Wittenberg University

"Whether you love the Blues or are just starting your journey with it, watching "America's Blues" should be on your short list of things to spend 90 minutes of your life doing. From its origins, through its transformations and evolution, the Blues has not just survived. It has thrived. America's Blues is a great reminder."

Bill Hulsizer, Director
Big Joe Duskin Music Education Foundation