by Katharine Strange
At Kids and Race we talk often about the importance of narratives. The media we surround ourselves and our children with influences how they will understand the world. Too often our media is completely focused on the stories of cis-gender White boys and girls, to the exclusion of all others.
Which is why “America’s Musical Journey 3D” is so refreshing. While many of the narratives that my generation learned about American music focused on White performers like Elvis, this film gives a broad (but concise) overview of many of the different people who helped create the “American” styles of music--jazz, rock, country, and hip hop.
The movie centers the stories of Black and Brown artists and gives some great counter-narratives to stereotypes of these groups. It’s narrated lightly by Morgan Freeman and follows musician Aloe Blacc on tour. I’ve been a fan of Blacc since “I Need A Dollar,” but affinity for his music aside, he is a charming guide through the history of American music. His own perspective as a Panamanian-American perhaps gives him a broader lens on how immigration and culture shaped America’s music.
The movie follows him from New York to Laguna Beach. At each city he meets up with another musician to talk about the musical history of each place. He chats with Gloria Estefan in Miami and legendary jazz musician Ramsey Lewis in Chicago. Along the way he highlights regional dance trends and sprinkles in fascinating facts. For example, did you know that the banjo is an African instrument?
At a brisk 40 minutes, this film kept my 3-year-old co-reviewer engaged the whole time. If your kid is able to keep their glasses on, 3D is a fun treat. My son kept reaching out to touch the city skylines as we bounced from place to place. This film has beautiful visuals and enough information to keep adults interested, too.
“America’s Musical Journey 3D” is playing at the Boeing IMAX at Pacific Science Center through the end of 2018. Tickets range from $6.75-$10.75 for non-members.