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Night Lights Classic Jazz

A National Road Of Song: Indiana Singing Groups And Songwriters

How Cole Porter and Hoagy Carmichael helped write the Great American Songbook, and how two Indiana vocal groups helped influence the sound of modern pop.

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Indiana songwriters

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Indiana native Cole Porter’s songs were embraced almost from the start by jazz musicians as well as singers.

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In this episode of “Jazz Crossroads of America,” we’ll take a look at several key songwriters and singing groups that emerged from the Hoosier heartland, starting all the way back in Indianapolis in the years before World War I, when ragtime was on the rise. Smithsonian music curator John Hasse joins us to discuss the Indianapolis ragtime composers and other early songwriters such as bluesman Leroy Carr and Broadway-bound Noble Sissle. Indiana University music professors Glenn Gass and Timothy Noble weigh in on the impact of the Ink Spots, the Four Freshmen (whose vocal work inspired Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys), and Cole Porter. “A National Road of Song” also features archival interviews with Ross Barbour (co-founder of the Four Freshmen) and Hoagy Carmichael biographer Richard Sudhalter.

Watch a segment from WTIU’s The Weekly Special devoted to the Four Freshmen:

David Brent Johnson

Born in Indianapolis, Indiana, David Brent Johnson moved to Bloomington in 1991. He is an alumnus of Indiana University, and began working with WFIU in 2002. Currently, David serves as jazz producer and systems coordinator at the station. His interests include literature, history, music, writing, and movies.

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