Carmel, Ind. – It’s ‘show and tell’ every day for Chris Lewis as Executive Director of the Great American Songbook Foundation.
The papers and artifacts of our countries greatest composers and lyricists fill a room inside the Palladium in Carmel, and also a 4,000 square foot building down the road.
Chris, his small team and an archivist manage the more than 500 collections totaling more than 700,000 artifacts, mostly from the 1920’s to the 1960’s.
(Watch the video above to see some of the artifacts!)
Chris knew he had to be a part of this. As a singer and history teacher in New York City, he was using a lot of this music in his classroom as a teaching tool.
He heard about the foundation so he moved to Carmel with his wife and two young kids in 2011 and hasn’t looked back.
The Great American Songbook Foundation does more than maintain archives.
A program called Perfect Harmony brings Golden Age music to people living with Alzheimer’s.
“We bring them here and we sing around the piano. We work with a music therapist to help us do more than provide entertainment, but a program that really can enrich the lives of people suffering and their caregivers.”
There is a Songbook Academy for young singers.
And free exhibits. The latest is called Politics on Stage.
“It’s a different way to look at history. We feel like music is a reflection of what’s happening in society and this exhibit, I think, showcases that more than anything.”
Chris wants to make sure the community knows the research center is free and he encourages teachers and students to take advantage of it.
“As a teacher and an historian, this is a great teaching tool to talk about not only history and civics, but what lengths people will go to for their music and the arts and their passions.”
Researchers, authors and even Broadway producers frequent the archives.
The Broadway production of The Music Man is opening in the fall with Hugh Jackman and they’ve been researching in Carmel for a few years.
Brand new this year, they are open the second Saturday of each month from noon to 4 p.m. to coincide with Carmel’s Gallery Walk.