Susto, Kyshona, Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen, Sister Sadie and other artists are putting their voices behind a new TV series on PBS that marries music and modern-day issues.
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Ear to the Common Ground, a 12-episode music series airing on PBS in 2023, features a music artist and eight of their fans of diverse belief systems. The group gathers around a table to discuss a timely topic including abortion, immigration, voting rights, race in America, gun rights and gun control. The series is centered around the question, “what if we could replace contempt with compassion in our political discourse and spend time together sharing a meal and some music?” according to a press release.
The first episode will air on Nashville Public Television (NPT) on January 2, and focuses on immigration. It also features a performance by music prodigy and master of the 21-string Chinese zither, Wu Fei. Kyshona helms the voting rights episode, while Susto frontman Justin Osborne performs on the topic of the environment.
Sam Lewis, The Sweet Lizzy Project, Honduran singer-songwriter Gustavo Moradel, She Returns From War, Bill Miller, spoken word artist Minton Sparks and Louis York, the Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter and producer duo of Claude Kelly and Chuck Harmony, also perform.
“For me a dinner represents a time to reflect, to inquire and to listen,” Kyshona said in a press statement. “I’ve always wanted my music to speak to the truth of what it means to be a responsible, considerate and respectful member of society. In Ear To The Common Ground, my music was able to be a reflection of that very thing.”
“Ear to The Common Ground was one of the most simply profound undertakings I’ve ever been involved with,” says series creator Todd Mayo. “We had twelve diverse artists and a complete American tapestry of racial, religious, geographic, sexual orientation and gender diversity. They all broke bread together and talked about very divisive issues—and everyone volunteered to do it!”
The show was filmed at the barn on Cash Lane in Madison, Tennessee, just outside of Nashville on the property where Patsy Cline, June Carter-Cash and Maybelle Carter, Marty Stuart and other legendary artists have called home. It’s currently owned by Mayo, who also owns The Caverns, a cave-turned-concert-venue in East Tennessee where the Emmy-winning PBS series Bluegrass Underground is filmed.
“In a time of great division, Ear to the Common Ground offers a downhome approach to bringing us together through civil conversation and music,” adds NPT President and CEO Becky Magura.
Other PBS affiliates are expected to air Ear to the Common Ground throughout 2023. See the full schedule below:
Episode 1: Wu Fei – Immigration
Episode 2: Kyshona – Voting Rights
Episode 3: The Sweet Lizzy Project – Abortion
Episode 4: Gustavo Moradel – Race in America
Episode 5: She Returns from War – LGBTQ Issues
Episode 6: Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen – Gun Rights & Gun Control
Episode 7: Susto – Environment
Episode 8: Sam Lewis – Polarization
Episode 9: Bill Miller – Separation of Church & State
Episode 10: Sister Sadie – Urban/Rural Divide
Episode 11: Louis York – Education
Episode 12: Minton Sparks – Sexual Politics
Photo by Michael Weintrob