What is the Great American Songbook?


The “Great American Songbook”, sometimes referred to as “American Standards”, is the uniquely American collection of popular music from Broadway and Hollywood musicals prevalent from the 1920s to 1960s. Familiar composers include George Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, Cole Porter, Harold Arlen, and Richard Rodgers. Singers include Frank Sinatra, Al Jolson, Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Judy Garland, Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald, Mel Torme and so many others.

This timeless music offered hope of better days during the Great Depression, built morale during two world wars, helped build social bridges within our culture, and whistled beside us during economic growth. We defended our country, raised families, and built a nation to these songs.

The songwriters of the Great American Songbook translated positive values and an optimistic spirit into the soundtrack of American life. These values are as true and applicable today as they ever have been. Through our work, we hope to educate today’s youth about the relevance of the Great American Songbook and its connection to current popular music.

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