An American Songline is a cross-country journey to be undertaken by me, Cecelia Otto. I plan to travel the Lincoln Highway in a singing travelogue, giving concerts in each state along the route from April-October in 2013 to coincide with the centennial of the highway.
What does this project mean?
Roads are more than a means of getting from one place to another: they have historic, cultural, and spiritual significance as well. In Australia, when Aborigines go on “walkabout,” they follow ancestral paths called “songlines” and sing their ancestors back into existence. The highways that traverse the United States were built over Native American trails, pioneer trails, war trails — all the old paths that have made this nation into what it is today. By following the Lincoln Highway — the first transcontinental road in the United States — I hope that in my own way, I will sing our own ancestors back in existence. Hence, I have titled this project An American Songline.
An American Songline will take me from New York to San Francisco, crossing 14 states in total. The pieces I perform will be a mix of songs about the Lincoln Highway itself (from any era) and popular songs that were sung in concert halls in cities along the highway from the heyday of the highway (roughly 1915-35). I will call on local musicians to perform with me along the way.
Each community has a story to tell in this journey, and every place — and every person — has something to contribute to this project. As I make my way across the country in 2013, I will live and/or lodge in and around the highway so that I can simulate what travelers would have seen and done while making the journey a hundred years ago. In addition, and in keeping with the project’s grassroots spirit, I welcome any and all assistance, from a recommendation of a performing space to donations, networking or even a place to stay for the night.
Learn more about An American Songline, and see some clips of me performing, at my website.
A Note on Gifts
A few of my friends have said they wanted to help me out but didn't want any gifts in return, so if that's the category you fall into, just drop me a note along with your pledge and let me know.
Similarly, if any international friends (or Kickstarter users!) want to support my project, send me a note and I'll look into international shipping for your gifts.
Risks and challenges
I have undertaken many challenges in planning An American Songline: finding suitable concert venues, pursuing funding and support, selecting material and researching the era of the highway's heyday, to name a few. I've had people respond to my project with incredible enthusiasm, or with nothing at all. There are still dates to confirm and travel arrangements to make, and there is always the chance that a date could fall through and send me scrambling to find a new venue. Through it all, I remember that this project is my dream, and that ultimately I'm the only one who can make it succeed (or allow it to fail). Whatever happens, I am going on this journey, and I'm ready to adapt to whatever challenges are thrown my way.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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