Martin Scorsese's The Blues Martin Scorsese's The Blues A worldwide multi-media celebration that raises awareness of the blues and its contribution to American culture and music.

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The Series

Under the guiding hand of Executive Producer Martin Scorsese, The Blues™ is a seven-film television series of personal and impressionistic films viewed through the lens of seven world-famous directors who share a passion for blues music. Charles Burnett, Clint Eastwood, Mike Figgis, Marc Levin, Richard Pearce, Martin Scorsese, and Wim Wenders each capture the essence of blues music and delve into its global influence—from its roots in Africa to its inspirational role in today’s music.

The blues is a powerfully influential music genre; an expression of the African-American experience that speaks of universal emotions. Many of the world’s most celebrated artists have credited the blues with influencing their music. The Blues™ traces the actual journey of the music from Africa, across America, and to Europe, and also looks at the effects of the blues on all popular music. Driven by the beat of performances by famous players from every kind of music the blues has inspired—hip-hop, rhythm and blues, soul, country and rock 'n' roll—this series takes us on a journey as soulful and ebullient as the music itself.

Visit The Blues at PBS.org

The Series

  • Martin Scorsese: Executive Producer
  • Paul G. Allen: Executive Producer
  • Jody Allen: Executive Producer
  • Ulrich Felsberg: Executive Producer
  • Alex Gibney: Series Producer
  • Margaret Bodde: Producer
  • :
  • Martin Scorsese: Director, Feel Like Going Home
  • Peter Guralnick: Writer, Feel Like Going Home
  • Wim Wenders: Director, The Soul of a Man
  • Richard Pearce: Director The Road to Memphis
  • Robert Gordon: Writer, The Road to Memphis
  • Charles Burnett: Writer and Director, Warming by the Devil's Fire
  • Marc Levin: Director, Godfathers and Sons
  • Mike Figgis: Director, Red, White & Blues
  • Clint Eastwood: Director, Piano Blues

For The Love of Music

Born from a desire to explore Classic American music on a scale never before seen, The Blues grew from Paul G. Allen’s love of American music and his desire to share its history with a wide public. In addition to the seven-part PBS television series, Vulcan Productions developed a teacher's guide containing blues lesson plans, teaching strategies and resource materials for high school teachers of English, Social Studies and Music. These materials were designed to help educate students about the cultural heritage of blues music, and to inspire them to explore their own personal relationships with the blues.

06.06.2003


"The blues is at once American and worldly. It's a form of storytelling that is so universal that it has inspired beyond our borders and

Martin Scorsese

06.01.2003


"The blues has always been part of my musical life and the piano has a special place, beginning when my mother brought home all of Fats Waller's records. Also, the music has always played a part in my movies. A piano blues documentary gives me a chance to make a film that is more directly connected to the subject of the music than the features that I have been doing throughout my career."

Clint Eastwood

06.01.2003


“These songs meant the world to me. I felt there was more truth in them than in any book I had read about America."

Wim Wenders

The Blues in the classroom

The Blues educational outreach campaign, created by EMP Museum, provides teaching strategies and resources to help in integrating blues music, culture, and history into American classrooms. Students can consider the genre within a historical and cultural context through questions like: “How might different disciplines explain the Blues?” “How can the Blues be understood in terms of time and place?” And “What are the various factors that have shaped the form and content of the Blues?” The Blues Educational Outreach Advisory Board was created to develop classroom materials and lessons that meet National Education Standards. Downloadable lesson plans include a Blues discography and bibliography; video clips from The Blues film series; audio clips of significant blues recordings; The Blues teacher's guide CD; and a printed Teacher's Guide.

08.15.2003


Vulcan Production's guide and CD were distributed to nearly 25K high school educators in the U.S.

Download the guide

09.01.2003


Vulcan Production's educational outreach campaign for The Blues has been endorsed by The National Association for Music Education, The National Council for Social Studies, and The National Council of Teachers

06.01.2003


"The sound of the blues was a part of my environment that I took for granted. However, as years passed, the blues slowly emerged as an essential source of imagery, humor, irony, and insight that allows one to reflect on the human condition.”

Charles Burnett

The Blues on Tour

In February of 2003, thousands of music fans gathered at Radio City Music Hall to honor the enduring legacy of blues music. Featuring blues royalty like Buddy Guy and B.B. King, and musical heirs ranging from Bonnie Raitt to Mos Def to India Arie, Lightning in a Bottle chronicled this landmark night in the history of popular music. Sweet Home Chicago, an original exhibit created by EMP Museum, showcased the history of the blues. It premiered at the museum in 2003 then travelled to cultural institutions across the U.S. The exhibit focused on the years 1946–1966 in Chicago, a 20-year period that saw a distinctive blues style emerge, evolve, and travel in new forms to urban centers across the country and around the world.

10.15.2005


Proceeds from Salute to the Blues Radio City Music Hall Benefit Concert went to The Blues Music Foundation.

06.04.2003


"When we were shooting Sam Lay and his band at the Chicago Blues Festival, they were playing Muddy Waters' classic, 'I Got My Mojo Workin.' I closed my eyes and was transported back to when I was a 15-year-old hanging in my buddy's basement listening to the Paul Butterfield Blues Band for the first time. My life was changed that day, and 35 years later the music's still shakin' my soul."

Marc Levin

06.04.2003


"The Blues is a chance to celebrate one of the last truly indigenous American art forms. Hopefully we'll get there before it's too late."

Richard Pearce

Action & Impact

Outcomes:

“Our goal never was to produce the definitive work on the blues. It was, from the start, to create highly personal and impressionistic films as seen through the eyes of the most creative directors around." Martin Scorsese

Awards:

2004 Grammy Award Nomination for Best Long Form Music Video

Awards:

Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Cinematography For Nonfiction Programming: Soul of a Man

Awards:

2003 Grammy Awards Best Historical Album and Best Album Notes Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues: A Musical Journey

Outcomes:

“I've always felt an affinity for blues music—the culture of storytelling through music is incredibly fascinating and appealing to me." Martin Scorsese

The Filmmakers

Photo of Martin Scorsese

Martin Scorsese Director

Martin Scorsese was born in 1942 in New York City, and grew up in the tough ...

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Photo of Charles Burnett

Charles Burnett Director

During his stint as a young student at UCLA's School of Theater, Film & Television ...

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Photo of Clint Eastwood

Clint Eastwood Director

As one of the most prolific, versatile artists in the history of cinema ...

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Photo of Mike Figgis

Mike Figgis Director

Mike Figgis has emerged as a visionary filmmaker who thrives on taking risks ...

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Photo of Marc Levin

Marc Levin Director

Marc Levin has been making provocative, award-winning films for more than 25 years ...

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Photo of Richard Pearce

Richard Pearce Director

Richard Pearce made his feature film directorial debut with the period drama Heartland ...

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Photo of Wim Wenders

Wim Wenders Director

Often hailed as one of the most important directors on the international scene ...

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