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If there are any two words that get a music fan’s heart rate going like “three-CD set envisioned by former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno,” well, I guess I’m unlucky enough not to know ’em.

(Least appealing press release in recent memory follows the jump.)

DATE: JUNE 18, 2007





“The historical detail of the songs fascinated me and I suggested that Ed [Pettersen] record a whole album of songs focusing on key periods in American history, in order to tell our story to young people who might find joy in learning history through music.”

—Janet Reno, former U.S. Attorney General

Artists as diverse as John Mellencamp, Blind Boys of Alabama, Martha Wainwright, The Black Crowes and Andrew Bird contribute tracks to SONG OF AMERICA, a unique 50-song, three-CD set envisioned by former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno and artist/producer Ed Pettersen, and co-produced by Pettersen and Grammy-winning producer David Macias.

Due out September 18 as a joint venture between Split Rock Records and 31 Tigers (via RED Distribution), the collection tells the history of our country through song, from 1492 through modern times. These new versions of beloved songs interpreted by contemporary artists who span the folk, blues, rock, R&B, country, classical and hip-hop genres offer listeners a way to connect or reconnect with America’s vast musical and cultural heritage.

Janet Reno explains, “I thought that music would be a great way to engage listeners, especially young listeners, and spark their interest so they could gain a greater understanding and appreciation for our history. I am very proud to be associated with this collection of inspired performances.”

Reno originally conceived of SONG OF AMERICA with Pettersen, who is also her niece’s husband. After Pettersen further developed the idea, they met with David Macias—who earned a Grammy in the Best Traditional Folk Album category for his co-production work on the critically acclaimed 2004 release Beautiful Dreamer: The Songs of Stephen Foster—and things began to move forward.

“The seed for the SONG OF AMERICA was planted,” explains Reno, “when Ed entertained me with some of his beautiful folk songs, ‘Nowhere to Roam’ describing the fencing in of the ranges and ‘La Tragedia de Heraclio Bernal’ which recast an old Mexican folk tale.”

Key tracks include John Mellencamp’s version of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land,” Blind Boys of Alabama’s “Let Us Break Bread Together,” Bettye LaVette’s transcendent take on Bruce Springsteen’s “Streets Of Philadelphia,” the first recording of The Black Crowes’ Robinson brothers singing with their father Stan (“Reuben James”), Martha Wainwright’s updated rendition of “I Am Woman,” Andrew Bird’s wistful account of “How You Gonna Keep ‘Em Down On The Farm,” Harper Simon’s “Yankee Doodle,” and The Del McCoury Band’s soon-to-be-classic take on Bob Dylan’s “The Times, They Are A Changin’.”

The complete track listing for SONG OF AMERICA is as follows:

Lakota Dream Song Earl Bullhead

Once More Our God Vouchsafe To Shine Julie Lee

Let Us Break Bread Together Blind Boys of Alabama

God Save The King John Wesley Harding

Young Ladies In Town Elizabeth Foster

The Old Woman Taught Wisdom Malcom Holcombe

The Liberty Song Ed Pettersen

Yankee Doodle Harper Simon

Jefferson & Liberty The Wilders

Hail Columbia Steven Kowalczyk-Santoro

Star Spangled Banner Take 6

Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child Beth Nielsen Chapman

Peg and Awl Freedy Johnston

Sweet Betsy From Pike BR549

Trail of Tears Will Hill and Jehnean Day Washington

Declaration Of Sentiments Minton Sparks and Pat Flynn

Go Down Moses Fisk Jubilee Singers

Dixie’s Land Mavericks featuring Thad Cockrell

John Brown’s Body Marah

Battle Hymn of the Republic Joanna Smith

Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye Janis Ian

Thousands Are Sailing To Amerikay Tim O’Brien

The Farmer Is The Man Otis Gibbs

Home On The Range Joni Harms

Stars & Stripes Forever Jake Shimabukuro

Over There Jen Chapin

How You Gonna Keep ‘Em Down
On The Farm Andrew Bird

Lift Every Voice And Sing Karen Parks

Happy Days Are Here Again Danielson

Brother Can Spare A Dime? Andy Bey

Seven Cent Cotton and Forty Cent Meat Jim Lauderdale

Deportee Old Crow Medicine Show

Rosie The Riveter Suzy Bogguss

Reuben James Folk Family Robinson

Apache Tears Scott Kempner

The Great Atomic Power Elizabeth Cook and The Grascals

Little Boxes Devendra Banhart

The Times They Are A Changin’ The Del McCoury Band

Get Together Kim Richey

Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud The Dynamites/Charles Walker

Ohio Ben Taylor

What’s Going On Anthony David

I Am Woman Martha Wainwright

Youngstown Matthew Ryan

Streets Of Philadelphia Bettye LaVette

Wave Gary Heffern/Chris Eckman

The Message Shortee

Sleep, My Child (Schlof Mayn Kind) Judith Edelman/Neilson Hubbard

Where Were You When The World

Stopped Turning The Wrights

This Land Is Your Land John Mellencamp


Marcee Rondan
Senior Vice President
14724 Ventura Blvd. Suite 710
Sherman Oaks, CA 91403