NEW YORK -- "America's Musical Journey," Brand USA's
second foray into giant screen, 3-D production, will debut Thursday at the
Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum, with additional theaters being
added in the fall.
The film, narrated by Morgan Freeman, follows contemporary
musician Aloe Blacc as he traces the development of American music, with a
focus on Louis Armstrong, Elvis Presley and Gloria and Emilio Estefan. Jon
Batiste, Ramsey Lewis and Dr. John make musical cameos as well, but the binding
thread is provided by the spirit of Armstrong.
At a preview in New York on Tuesday, Brand USA chief
marketing officer Tom Garzilli said the previous 3-D IMAX film, "National
Parks Adventure," was "a road trip, an adventure" to inspire
people to come to the U.S. by putting lesser-known landscapes on display. The
film was the highest-grossing documentary in 2016, he said.
The new film puts the spotlight on cities and cultures, with
music employed as a storytelling device. A recurring theme is how American
music formed out of the music immigrants brought with them. "The world
helped bring us our music, and we want to share that back with the world,"
The relationship between Brand USA (the U.S.'s public-private destination marketing organization) and Blacc extends beyond
the film, and includes concerts in Paris, Mexico City, Vancouver and London.
"My dad was a career Marine," Blacc said, "and
every time I leave the country, he reminds me that I'm an ambassador for the
U.S., representing what we stand for and who we are. Working with Brand USA is
a continuation of that."
Expedia and Air Canada are listed as the film’s