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The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

‘Music America: Iconic Objects from America’s Music History’ celebrates American culture

Emma George

Next week, nestled into a U-shaped room, the LBJ Presidential Library will unveil a collection of artifacts representing the spirit and history of American music.

Curated by the Bruce Springsteen Archives & Center for American Music at Monmouth University, “Music America: Iconic Objects from America’s Music History” opens Saturday, Feb. 17, and will reside at the LBJ Presidential Library through Aug. 11 before embarking on a national tour. 

Executive Director of the Bruce Springsteen Archives and Center for American Music, Bob Santelli, said he hopes to curate a story depicting the breadth of America’s musical landscape.

“We decided to use the exhibit as if you were crossing a creek from stone to stone, working your way through American music,” Santelli said. “Hopefully, by going through the exhibit, you’ll get a real understanding of the depth, complexity and greatness of American music in the last 250 years.” 

While featuring traditional American icons, Santelli aimed to paint a deeper picture, highlighting artists who used their music as a voice for change. Santelli said he prioritized pieces that offer a glimpse into the creative processes of artists. 

“I love this letter from Buddy Holly that he wrote to his mother just before he died,” Santelli said. “That to me is powerful stuff. The lyrics, the letters, those are the things that are important.”

Melissa Ziobro, curator for the Bruce Springsteen Archives and Center for American Music, said the exhibit will provide a lens for visitors to analyze the broader context of American history. 

“We’re going to look at the influences of various groups as they were brought to the United States against their will, and the people who immigrated to this country to seek a better life and the influences that they brought in,” Ziobro said. “Woven through all of this fun, accessible music history are these serious stories of how we became the people that we are.”

LBJ Library director, Mark A. Lawrence, dubbed the decade during which LBJ was President a key period for music, constituting the library as a fitting location for the exhibit’s debut. 

“We have a few artifacts from earlier periods … (which) hopefully will provoke people to think further back and see connections across longer periods of time,” Lawrence said. “But there’s no question that the centerpiece of the exhibit is in that era.”

Debuting amidst the anticipation for America’s 250th birthday, “Music America” will commemorate America’s national culture and heritage. 

“Americans, we take our music very seriously,” Santelli said. “When you think about all the music forms that came out of America just in the 20th century, I need three hands to name them all. It’s very important to who we are.” 

Santelli said he hopes the exhibit will leave visitors curious and inspire them to dig deeper. 

“I hope you walk out of there and say, ‘You know what, I can’t believe how much disco was an important part of American music. I might read a little bit about it,’ and you go back to disco records or hit Spotify and listen to some of these things,” Santelli said, “That’s the hope: that I inform, I interpret and I inspire.”

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About the Contributor
Emma George, Comics Editor
Emma is currently a Spring 2023 Comics Editor. She is a junior civil engineering major whoe loves to draw, read, and visiting art museums. She has previously been a Comics sStaffer and Comics Senior Illustrator.