In this new live music and film piece, acclaimed musician Jenny Scheinman invites us into the captivating visual world of H. Lee Waters, who documented over 118 small towns in the southeast between 1936-42. Waters’s films are of regular people going about their lives – mill workers streaming out of factories, a mother and daughter dancing on a dirt road, an old man reading a war-time headline, children racing in slow motion toward a huge wooden teeter totter. Scheinman and filmmaker Finn Taylor have re-edited these iconic images to Scheinman’s music, and created a new movie that speaks to any community as much as to the towns where it was filmed.
“These are America’s home movies. They contain a clue to our nature, an imprint of our ancestry. They were shot before Americans had sophisticated understanding of film, and capture truthfulness that one is hard-pressed to find in this day and age now that we are immersed in a world of social media, video, and photography. These people can dance. Girls catapult each other off seesaws and teenage boys hang on each other’s arms. Toothless men play resonator guitars on street corners, and toddlers push strollers through empty fields. They remind us of our resilience and of our immense capacity for joy even in the hardest of times.”
- Jenny Scheinman
Kannapolis: A Moving Portrait was commissioned by Duke Performances at Duke University. The piece premiered at Duke’s Reynolds Industries Theater on Friday, March 20, 2015.
"Scheinman [has] a distinctive vision of American music, suffused with plainspoken beauty and fortified all at once by country, gospel, and melting-pot folk, along with jazz and the blues"
The New York Times
"Waters developed a fluid and expressive style, and the films feature an often vivacious depiction of community life along with beautiful portraits and some 'small town symphony' special effects."
"A beautifully coordinated melding of music and film... a vivid image of small-town life, morphing back and forth almost imperceptibly between black-and-white and color."
The Washington Post
Jenny Scheinman — composer, arranger, violin, vocals
Robbie Fulks — guitar, banjo, vocals
Robbie Gjersoe — resonator guitar, baritone electric guitar, vocals
Finn Taylor — film director
Rick LeCompte — film editor
Trevor Jolly — Sound Designer
All footage shot between 1936-42 by H. Lee Waters
Kannapolis was made possible, in part, with an award from the National Endowment for the Arts; a grant from The Mary Duke Biddle Foundation; a grant from New Music USA; a Visiting Artist Grant from the Council for the Arts, Office of the Provost, Duke University; support from the Archive of Documentary Arts at the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Duke University; and a gift from Neil D. Karbank.
Management: Ellizabeth Penta, EMCEE Artist Management
Exclusive Worldwide Representation: Sue Bernstein, Bernstein Artists, Inc.