American Songline is a unique way of bringing the past to life through vintage songs and stories — I like to think of it as “Hamilton in reverse.” Instead of seeing historical events depicted through contemporary song, I perform the popular music of earlier eras just as audiences at the time heard it. Combined with insightful facts and stories, American Songline performances open a unique window onto American history — and most importantly, they’re a fun, unforgettable musical experience for concertgoers of all ages.
When the Aborigines of Australia go on Walkabout, they follow trails established over the generations by their ancestors. As they follow these trails, they sing to their ancestors and, it is believed, summon them back into existence. These trails are called songlines.
I named this project American Songline to celebrate the roads that our “ancestors” made and to allow them to live again through music.
The Lincoln Highway is America’s first transcontinental road, originating in Times Square, New York and terminating in Lincoln Park, San Francisco. It was established in 1913 and traverses 14 states in all.
For an interactive map of the Lincoln Highway, click here.
My name is Cecelia Otto (most people call me Cece) and I am a classically trained singer and composer. I also love to travel, write and meet new people. Read my “About Me” page to learn more about me.
My program consists of songs that highlight certain periods and events in American history, generally from the early 20th century to the period up to World War II. That means I perform a wide range of material. You’ll hear a mix of folk songs, show tunes, operetta and classical numbers. Some of my best-received (and most requested) numbers include “Second Hand Rose,” “Over There,” “When You’re Smiling,” “K-K-K-Katy,” “Hard Travelin'” and “Home on the Range” — to name just a few!
For performances near my home, I travel with a pianist. Otherwise I travel on my own and perform with local musicians at each stop. In some cases, this will mean performing with small ensembles, but in most cases, I perform with just a piano player.
If you’re a musician and are interested in working with me for a performance in your area, drop me a line!
Absolutely! I want to keep American Songline a grassroots, community-centered project, so the more local help I get, the better the project will be. Here are some of the things I am looking for people to provide:
- Recommendations for performance venues
- Places to stay
- Musical accompaniment
- Monetary donations for travel expenses
If you can’t do any of those things, then all I ask is that you come to one of my shows — that, more than anything else, will make this project a success.