Program Details

Music Americana: In Search Of Greatness, Part I

Rod MacDonald
Video Catch-up

Course Description

From sheer talent, pioneering a new direction, or outselling all their rivals, a few artists are widely regarded as the foremost practitioners of their art. Their work endures through the years, imitated but never surpassed, as part of the soundtrack of our times. From the directness of Irving Berlin to the heartfelt Jacques Brel, from the deep blues of Billy Holliday to the Tony-winning freedom of Kimberly Akimbo, from the symphonic Aaron Copeland to the spectacular Elton John, great artists inspire us in our time and set the standards for the future. Part I of this course will examine the work, biographies, and enduring importance of these past and present artists and attempt to sort myth from reality, using updated videos and excerpts from feature films, live performances, and a few surprises.


  1. The Great Songwriters: Irving Berlin, Carole King
  2. American Classics: Aaron Copeland, The Kronos Quartet
  3. Historic Voices: Billy Holliday, Judy Collins
  4. Curtain Call: Harry Belafonte, Gordon Lightfoot

About the Instructor

  • Rod MacDonald has 21 songs in the Smithsonian Folkways collection and 14 solo albums, including his 2023 Rants And Romance. 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