The Test of Time – In the Time of Rock ’n‘ Roll

Ever wondered what it is about the period from 1950 to 1980 that spawned such a treasure trove of great artists, songs and records? Throughout the rich, long arc of popular music, there has always existed the great singer. These individuals elevate a song to another dimension, a place where listeners are thrilled and inspired for the rest of their lives. 

For six weeks, beginning this September, a selection of these great artists and their music will come to life at Rhythmix Cultural Works in a new class, Great Voices of Rock and R&B. Through the vibrant storytelling of musician and teacher Pete Elman, students will embark on a cultural and musical journey as the class explores the lives and careers of six legendary rock and R&B singers from 1955 to the present. 

Featured artists include: Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, Tina Turner, Roy Orbison, Bonnie Raitt and Linda Ronstadt. Although all of these artists are known as songwriters and performers, they have made their marks as vocalists who could rock one minute, and with the next breath, cajole the sweetest melodies from the material they so passionately created.

In these six classes, Elman delves into the lives and artistry of each of these musicians, exploring the many connections between their influences, upbringing and the arc of their careers that have made their music matter so profoundly to listeners.

In addition to the standard classroom teaching aids of audio recordings, film clips, slides with lyrics, maps and charts, Elman also uses live performance to help analyze the various elements that have enabled these artists and their recordings to stand the test of time.

With the help of piano, guitar, bass, and the occasional guest artist, Elman breaks down the components that make each singer’s style so memorable and inspiring. He can also tell students exactly what aspects of a particular recording, (for example: the instrumentation, arrangement, production and, most importantly or lead vocal) contributed to its musical legacy over the last 50 years.

Connecting the eras and bringing the songs to life, Elman helps music lovers see how these artists drove the genres of American rhythm and blues and rock and roll.

Great Voices of Rock and R&B will be taught by Pete Elman Thursday evenings from Sept. 12 to Oct. 17, from 7 to 9 p.m. at Rhythmix Cultural Works, 2513 Blanding Ave.