American Epic represents a 10-year odyssey undertaken by director Bernard MacMahon and producers Allison McGourty and Duke Erikson, and audio engineer Nicholas Bergh that involved tracking down countless long forgotten musicians, restoring the music that they recorded and reassembling the technology that created it. Along the way they brought some of the most important figures in contemporary culture to help them on their quest. Executive Producers Jack White, T Bone Burnett and Robert Redford have lent their support to what Redford calls "America's greatest untold story."
In addition to American Epic: The Sessions soundtrack, Third Man Records is slated to release 180 gram 12" audiophile vinyl versions of American Epic: The Carter Family, American Epic: Memphis Jug Band, American Epic: Mississippi John Hurt, American Epic: Blind Willie Johnson and American Epic: Lead Belly plus thematic collections including American Epic: Blues and American Epic: Country.
Texas slide guitarist and gospel bluesman Blind Willie Johnson recorded only 30 songs over the course of his life as a preacher and street performer. Even so, the savvy combination of his gritty and powerful "chest voice" singing style coupled with his mastery of slide guitar (some report he regularly used a knife as a slide) has given him a notably influential legacy, specifically with later bluesmen Howlin' Wolf and Robert Johnson. His tune "Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground" was selected for Carl Sagan's Voyager probe Golden Record, the Library of Congress as well as the National Recording Registry. Single LP with single pocket tip-on jacket with soft touch finish