Houston Matters

Taylor Mac On Retelling American History Through Its Popular Music

The award-winning performance artist created an epic, 24-hour concert, called “A 24-Decade History of Popular Music.”

Performance artist Taylor Mac.


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Taylor Mac is known for being a lot of things: performance artist, playwright, director, producer, and songwriter. He’s also a MacArthur "Genius" fellow.

But Mac is perhaps best known for his epic, 24-hour concert, called A 24-Decade History of Popular Music, which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 2017.

In the show, Mac performs 246 songs that were popular in the United States from 1776–2016 in order to illustrate aspects of American history. And there are numerous participatory elements for the audience to engage in along the way.

A 24-Decade History of Popular Music
Courtesy Teddy Wolff
Taylor Mac (far right) during one of his marathon performances of "A 24-Decade History of Popular Music."

Mac will speak during the annual Mitchell Artist Lecture at the University of Houston’s Moores Opera House tonight at 6.

In the audio above, he tells Houston Matters producer Michael Hagerty why he decided to pursue such a project and focus on popular music versus, say, classical.

Michael Hagerty

Michael Hagerty

Senior Producer, Houston Matters

Michael Hagerty is the senior producer for Houston Matters. He's spent more than 20 years in public radio and television and dabbled in minor league baseball, spending four seasons as the public address announcer for the Reno Aces, the Triple-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

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