With Independence Day being this week, what are your plans? Barbecues, beaches, parades, maybe even some fireworks? No matter how you celebrate, Independence Day gives Americans an opportunity to reflect on who we are, where we have been, and where we are going, and music plays a key part in that reflection. Music has honored the nation’s natural beauty, captured both the triumphs and the sufferings of the people and groups who have lived here, and sets the foundation for future innovation and identity development.
America’s scenery and architecture all have a story to tell, from purple mountain majesty to historic concert halls echoing with performances past. With a landscape as diverse as its people, it can be a challenge to succinctly honor the nation’s beauty as a whole. Katharine Lee Bates described it as clearly as anyone in her 1895 poem, “America the Beautiful.” Bates wrote the words while traveling by train to Colorado, where she witnessed sights from the shining city of Chicago and the rolling wheat fields of Kansas to the sunset reflecting off the snow-capped Pikes Peak. Her words was later set to a melody written by organist Samuel A. Ward in 1883, and though the two never met, their individual efforts resulted in the national hymn that remains well-known to this day.
America is often known as the “melting pot,” and for good reason. Thousands of ethnic groups have come together here throughout the years, influencing each other in dialect, customs, and song. From Appalachian groups, many of whom arrived from Scotland, Ireland, and other European nations to seek a better life, to African communities brought by force who fought for a better life and made a lasting imprint on American culture, the nation’s musical heritage is a richly complex, multi-voiced story.
And of course, what’s an Independence Day celebration without some fireworks?
From us at PARMA Recordings, have a happy Independence Day!