Frank Waln to host PBS Special Oct. 29

Frank Waln (Sicangu Lakota), Hip Hop artist/Music producer
Photo Credit: PBS

The American Pops Orchestra (APO) announced today the release of two new episodes of ONE VOICE: THE SONGS WE SHARE, as part of #PBSForTheArts. The episodes, entitled “Country” and “American Roots,” will be broadcast back-to-back on Friday, October 29, 2021 (check local listings) on PBS, and the PBS Video App. 

In this series – which premiered in May 2021 with two inaugural episodes, “Broadway” and “Sacred” – Maestro Luke Frazier and the American Pops Orchestra celebrate uniquely American music that has transcended its original genre to find a place in our collective culture. Each of the four episodes is directed by Eric Rosen and executive produced by Robert Pullen and Nouveau Productions. 

“Country” features music from early mountain traditions to the most modern country songs. From honky-tonk to country gospel, these songs were made famous by the likes of Tammy Wynette, Dolly Parton, June Carter Cash, Johnny Cash and Loretta Lynn. “American Roots” celebrates the many indigenous and immigrant communities who have contributed to what we know as American music, incorporating Native American flute, Japanese folk song, hip hop, opera, a Mexican ballad and more. 

“It’s my belief that an orchestra is at heart, a service organization, and that the focus should not only be on providing high quality musical experiences, but also regularly representing all styles of music in their programming. In that vein, we seek to put a spotlight on the many types of music enjoyed across our country,” stated Frazier. “In these next two episodes, you’ll hear the sounds of our earliest indigenous musicians, attend the opera, pull up a stool at the honky-tonk, sit by a campfire, go to church and so much more! All of this music is performed with the same orchestra – an orchestra that wants to share your story and shine a light on how all of our music brings us together.” 

Country” — This episode was filmed at the Poorhouse Farm Park in historic Martinsburg, West Virginia, under strict COVID-19 mitigation procedures. Hosted by and starring Emmy Award-winner Leslie Jordan, “Country” features additional performances by celebrated country songwriter, producer and guitarist Travis Howard; 2020 Steve Martin Banjo Prize recipient, Jake Blount; one of Dance Magazine’s 25 to watch, Nic Gareiss; Appalachian singer-songwriter Senora May; and star of Broadway’s COMPANY, Claybourne Elder. All performers are joined by The American Pops Orchestra under the baton of founder and music director Maestro Luke Frazier, who is a native of West Virginia. 

American Roots” — This episode was filmed at the Marinoff Theater at Shepherd University in historic Shepherdstown, W. Va, under strict COVID-19 mitigation procedures. Hosted by and starring award-winning Sicangu Lakota Hip Hop artist and music producer Frank Waln, “American Roots” includes additional performances by pianist Jacqueline Schwab, who is featured in multiple films made by Ken Burns); star of Broadway’s ON YOUR FEET, Mauricio Martinez; international soprano Asako Tamura; and Hall Johnson Award for Spirituals-winner Amber Merritt. All performers are joined by The American Pops Orchestra under the baton of founder and music director Maestro Luke Frazier. 

#PBSFortheArts is a multiplatform campaign that celebrates the resiliency of the arts in America during the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown and reopening, and features new performing arts content filmed within the constraints of the pandemic. The collection of #PBSForTheArts programs will be available for broadcast on PBS and streaming on and the PBS Video app. Curated conversation and digital shorts will be available on PBS social media platforms using #PBSForTheArts. 

Frank Waln is an award winning Sicangu Lakota Hip Hop artist and music producer from the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota. A recipient of the Gates Millennium Scholarship, Waln attended Columbia College Chicago where he received a BA in Audio Arts and Acoustics. Waln’s awards include three Native American Music Awards, the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development 2014 Native American 40 Under 40, the 2014 Chicago Mayor’s Award for Civic Engagement, and the 2016 3Arts Grant for Chicago Artists. He has been featured in Buzzfeed, The Fader, Playboy, Vibe, NPR, ESPN, and MTV’s Rebel Music Native America. Waln has written for various publications including Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education, and Society and The Guardian. Frank Waln travels the world telling his story through performance and doing workshops focusing on self-empowerment and expression of truth. 

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