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April 14, 2017

UMS in the Classroom: Piedmont Blues: A Search for Salvation


Piedmont Blues Gerald Clayton and The Assembly 4 by Andy Tennille

Interested in using a UMS performance in your university classroom? For each performance on the season, we provide suggested curricular connections, links to contextual material online, citations for scholarly material, and prompts for classroom discussion. For additional resources and individualized curricular support, please contact Shannon Fitzsimons Moen, UMS Campus Engagement Specialist, at or (734) 764-3903.

UMS is also committed to making our performances an affordable part of the academic experience. Our Classroom Ticket Program provides $15 tickets to students and faculty for performances that are a course requirement. Please email to set up a group order.


This performance may connect meaningfully with courses in the following schools and disciplines:

  • Afroamerican and African Studies
  • American Culture
  • Organizational Studies
  • Sociology
  • Composition
  • Jazz & Contemporary Improvisation
  • Musicology
  • Piano
  • Strings
  • Wind & Percussion
  • Architecture & Urban Planning
  • Art & Design
  • Education
  • Social Work


  • Learn about the Piedmont Blues on the project’s website.
  • Director Christopher McElroen walks us through the Piedmont Blues’s history and rich narrative thread of “a subdued kind of blues” in this Washington Post feature.
  • Read about the Piedmont Blues in Gerard Herzhaft’s book Encyclopedia of the Blues from the University of Arkansas Press (1997).


  • This piece attempts to tell the story of the blues from a contemporary viewpoint—using modern jazz compositions. How does viewing the story through this lens affect your understanding of the musical style and surrounding culture of the Piedmont Blues?
  • Growing from its roots in black spiritual music, the blues spread across the United States and influenced musical genres from jazz to rock n’ roll. What aspects of the blues made it so compelling? What factors helped facilitate its widespread popularity? How can popular music today be traced back to the blues?