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Michael Feinstein Hosts Television Special on Soundies

A new television special, Soundies: A Musical History Hosted by Michael Feinstein, is scheduled to air on PBS March 8th. The program will explore a nearly forgotten piece of American musical history, the soundie.

Begun in 1941, soundies can be described as “musical jukeboxes.” For a dime inserted into a Panoram machine, a three-minute “music video” would play. Many of the soundies featured the greatest jazz, swing and big-band artists of the time. By the end of World War II, over 1,800 soundies had been created. Soundies would have a profound affect on the future of American music, most notably in the evolution of the music video.

Soundies: A Musical History will feature special restored soundies of jazz legend Duke Ellington performing “Hot Chocolate” with Arthur White’s Lindy Hoppers and Cab Calloway performing “Blow Top Blues,” as well as appearances by Louis Armstrong, Count Basie and Nat King Cole, among others. The program also includes interviews with soundies fans such as Hugh Hefner, Wynton Marsalis and Leonard Maltin.

The program is hosted by Michael Feinstein, a four-time Grammy-nominated singer and pianist, as well as an archivist for The Great American Songbook and a member of the National Sound Recording Advisory Board. Feinstein’s one-man show, Isn’t It Romantic?, experienced a successful run in the 1980s. Feinstein is currently involved with a musical, The Gold Room, set to debut soon in London’s West End.

For more information on the program, or for photos of artists featured, visit PBS online at

Originally Published