Program Details

Music Americana: In Search of Greatness

Rod MacDonald
Music / History
Video Catch-up

Course Description

From sheer talent, breaking new ground, or outselling their rivals, a few artists are foremost practitioners of their art: their work is legendary, their styles imitated but never surpassed, their triumphs and losses brilliantly conveyed in their music. From the deep baritone of Paul Robeson to the crystalline harmonies of Crosby, Stills and Nash; from the Gulag-defying symphonies of Shostakovich to the rock opera of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody; from the intense lyricism of Bob Dylan to the lyric soul of Nina Simone, great artists rise above their peers and critics to tell our story. This course will examine the work, biographies and enduring importance of these musical artists, and attempt to sort myth from reality, using updated videos and excerpts from feature films, live performances and a few surprises.


  1. More Than A Song: Paul Robeson, Dimitri Shostakovich
  2. Historic Voices: Marian Anderson, Maria Callas 
  3. The Words of Poets: Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan 
  4. The Great Story: A Star Is Born, Bohemian Rhapsody
  5. Genius at Work: Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder 
  6. The Sweetest Sound: Crosby Stills & Nash, Rod Stewart 
  7.  The New Broadway Musical: Bob Fosse/Gwen Verdon, Hadestown 
  8. No Time For Crying: Nina Simone, Mavis Staples

About the Instructor

  • Rod MacDonald has 21 songs in the Smithsonian Folkways collection and 13 solo albums, including his 2020 cd Boulevard, which made the top ten on national folk music charts. He performs in festivals, concerts, and clubs and throughout North America, Europe, solo and with the bands Big Brass Bed and Rod MacDonald & The Humdingers. He was named Best Local Acoustic Performer by New Times and one of the "10 Magnificent Musicians of Palm Beach County" by The Palm Beach Post. Previous Music Americana courses include "The Birth of Rock & Roll," "The Great American Songbook," and "Mastery of the Art."

    Recipient of the 2012 Distinguished Faculty Award

Upcoming programs presented by Rod MacDonald.

TypeNumberInstructorCourse TitleAdd to Cart
4wk F343B Rod MacDonald Music Americana: Roots & Acoustic Music
Wednesdays, November 3, 10, 17; December 1: 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm