Prohibition defined — and divided — America through the 1920s, ushering in an era of dizzying new freedoms even as it sought to curb some of the nation’s worst social ills. Born from the same reforming zeal that had helped end slavery and given women the vote, Prohibition fueled the rise of organized crime, corrupted civic institutions and turned millions of ordinary citizens into lawbreakers before it was eventually repealed in 1933. Beginning in the mid-19th century through the Jazz Age, popular song reflected both the scourge of alcohol abuse and the wistfulness of a people barred from partaking in one of their greatest pleasures. Cecelia Otto’s American Songline program Prohibition: 90 Years of Temperance, Temptation & Song chronicles the entire era through the songs sung by both “wets” and “drys,” from Victorian parlor songs like “Father’s a Drunkard and Mother Is Dead” to Tin Pan Alley favorites like Irving Berlin’s “See You in C-U-B-A” — and even speakeasy favorites like “The Charleston.”
Prohibition will debut in 2023, with in-person performances, livestream events and an all-new album recorded by Cece containing more than a dozen songs from the era, performed just as contemporary audiences would have heard them. Join Cece’s email list for updates or check back at americansongline.com for performance dates and other announcements.