Great Indiana Songbook celebrates Hoosiers’ music contributions


By Mark Ambrogi

The Great American Songbook Foundation is doing its part to celebrate Indiana’s 200th year as a state.

The Great Indiana Songbook: Two Centuries of Hoosier Music free exhibit will be on display on the gallery level of the Palladium in Carmel.

“With the Bicentennial connection, I think this is going to have a broader appeal than some of our other exhibits,” said Chris Lewis, director of programs for The Great American Songbook Foundation.

The exhibit, which opened Feb. 15 and runs through January, features Indiana music legends from Cole Porter to Jackson 5 to John Mellencamp to Axl Rose.

“Our official definition for the Songbook is music that will last beyond the time it was written,” Lewis said. “For our preservation efforts, we focus on the Golden Age and we do focus on the standards. But we’re celebrating American music and Indiana has one of the richest legacies of any state I know. It’s pretty remarkable when you think about it.”

Lewis said the typical Great American Songbook audience clearly identifies with Hoagy Carmichael and Cole Porter.

“But the Gaithers have written more standards and more songs that are in hymn books and they’re from Anderson,” Lewis said.

The Gaither Vocal Band, featuring Bill Gaither, will make its first appearance at the Palladium at 3 p.m. June 12 as part of the Bicentennial.

Included in the exhibit is Steve Wariner, a Grammy-winning country singer from Noblesville.

“He sent us several artifacts,” Lewis said. “We have handwritten lyrics from him and costumes.”

The Wright Brothers are featured in the display. Tim Wright lives in Carmel and brother Tom in Fishers.

The exhibit points out that Albert Von Tilzer who co-wrote “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” is from Indianapolis.

Some Indiana rising stars displayed are Josh Kaufman, winner of “The Voice” in 2014, and Jon McLaughlin. Lebanon’s Lucas Debard, the 2015 Great American Songbook Youth Ambassador Award winner, is featured. Debard, an Indiana University student, made his Carnegie Hall debut in February.

An inactive display allows visitors to view music from different Indiana artists.

Lewis said a new program called Perfect Harmony, a partnership with the Alzheimer’s Association Greater Indiana Chapter. Regularly scheduled group programs are available for those individuals with early-stage Alzheimer’s and their caregivers.

“It’s a music therapy program,” Lewis said. “We bring them in here and show them the exhibit. We use the interactive display. We’ll have bingo and things that use the brain.”

Lewis said they also in the process of doing an outreach project with assisted living homes.

Lisa Lobdell, archivist for the foundation, said there are about 20 Indiana artists on the interactive display.

“A lot of people are surprised when they come through, saying I didn’t know this person came from Indiana or that person was,” Lobdell said.

There is also another TV screen where documentaries or movies can be shown.

“We’ve had people literally sit and watch a movie and then pull a chair around and watch the music,” Lewis said. “You can spend as much or as little time as you want. There are 50 artists represented.”

Exhibit hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday in the Gallery. The exhibit is open before the Songbook and Jazz Series shows. It also will be open before some of the Bicentennial shows. The Gallery elevator is in the west lobby by the box office.



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