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On October 6, 2017, the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools began a nine-month nursery school to high school educational program based on the American Epic films. The program is a multi-disciplinary course across 15 grades. The school founded by progressive educator John Dewey in 1896 has over 2,015 students. The program features film director Bernard MacMahon and co-writer and producer Allison McGourty as Artists in Residence.

"The program is designed to further Lab's mission by bringing practicing artists to campus, in various capacities, to work directly with Lab students. The artist in residence concept—successfully tested in other ways at Lab—has the potential to ignite creativity in entirely new and unexpected ways. By working side-by-side with leading artistic practitioners, our students and our faculty benefit. It is absolutely consistent with how John Dewey envisioned a community of learners."

- David Kistenbroker, Lab Board Chair -


"A feast of musical and educational riches."

- The Hollywood Reporter -


On the last day of the Lab sessions, 125 kindergarten students sat on the floor of the Gordon Parks Arts Hall John Rogers lobby, surrounding the 1925 Western Electric microphone, sang (and signed!) "What a Wonderful World", live in just one take.


Reel Folk: Interview with Bernard MacMahon and Allison McGourty

As a part of the Library of Congress and The American Folklife Center's "Reel Folk" event examining cultural explorations on film, Stephen Winick and Mary Sue Twohy interviewed Bernard MacMahon and Allison McGourty on September 29, 2017. The series chronicles the period from the 1920s through the 1940s when collectors for both commercial record companies and public institutions like the LOC sought and recorded traditional American roots music, including ballad singers in the Appalachians, blues guitarists in the Mississippi Delta, gospel preachers across the south, Cajun fiddlers in Louisiana, Tejano groups from the Texas-Mexico border, Native American drummers and Hawaiian musicians on the big island.


"American Epic is more than a music documentary, this is history."

- Sir Elton John -