American Epic

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"Bernard MacMahon’s landmark documentary series is one of the most interesting music programmes ever broadcast. A gorgeous history lesson. Exceptional television."

- Mike Bradley, The Observer -

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"An extraordinary star-studded four-part music documentary exploring the birth of the recording industry and its impact on world culture."

- Randy Lewis, Los Angeles Times -

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American Epic is a four part documentary series about the first recordings of rural music in the U.S.A. and their cultural, social and technological impact around the world.

In the 1920s, as radio took over the pop music business, record companies were forced to leave their studios in major cities in search of new styles and markets. They brought with them the newly invented first electrical recording system that, for the first time, allowed them to record music of all genres. Ranging the mountains, prairies, rural villages, and urban ghettos of America, they discovered a wealth of unexpected talent – African Americans, Cajuns, Mexican Americans, Hawaiians and Native Americans. The recordings they made of all the ethnic groups of America democratized the nation and gave a voice to everyone

It was the first time America heard itself.


"A mammoth project with worthy intentions and a big heart - a feast of musical and educational riches." 

- Stephen Dalton, The Hollywood Reporter -


"If you like music of any sort, there’s only one word for this project. Essential"

- Simon Cosyns, The Sun –


"One of the highlights (and audience prizewinner) of last year’s Sydney Film Festival was the American Epic series of documentaries by British filmmaker Bernard MacMahon and producers Allison McGourty and Duke Erikson. The American Epic Sessions, brought together a wealth of contemporary talent. It’s an exquisite representation of the primitive power of American roots music and its enduring charm - music that stirs the soul."

- Iain Sheddon, The Australian -


"American Epic is going to carve a niche in the pantheon of TV’s great documentaries."

- Jonathan Webster, Long Live Vinyl -


"American Epic is an ambitious project championed by the director and producer Bernard MacMahon. His mission: to trace the history of the origins of American popular music, from country to folk to gospel and blues. The final result of this work, is hugely impressive, with exceptional film and sound archives, as well as unpublished testimonies spread over four episodes lasting a total of three and a half hours. This documentary is a fabulous epic of country, gospel and rhythm and blues."

- Alain Constant, Le Monde -

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