Taking Sam Phillips as a case study, this lesson explores the role of the producer in the recording studio as one defined by an ability to guide the recording process but also to affect the wider cultural context. After investigating what a producer does and why an artist might benefit from a producer’s services, this lesson looks at the way Sam Phillips’ approach in some ways reflects the trend of urbanization in the American South. Like Phillips, many of his artists came from rural backgrounds and were seeking the benefits of urban life. That move toward the urban, and the racial mixing it fostered, was almost encoded in the music, as the lesson activities will illuminate. Finally, the lesson looks at Phillip’s guidance of a young Elvis Presley and suggests how the music they produced created an opening for African-American music to “crossover” into mainstream American popular music.
Producing the Sounds of a Changing South
Subject Arts — Music • Social Studies
Grade Level Grades 9-12
Resource Type Lesson Plan
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