/ Modified sep 12, 2016 1:55 p.m.

PBS Presents Soundbreaking: Stories from the Cutting Edge of Recorded Music

An eight-episode series that explores the extraordinary impact of recorded music on the modern world.



Arlington, VA; August 11, 2016 – SOUNDBREAKING: STORIES FROM THE CUTTING EDGE OF RECORDED MUSIC, an upcoming eight-episode PBS series that explores the extraordinary impact of recorded music on the modern world, will make its U.S. broadcast debut on PBS this fall. SOUNDBREAKING was the last project produced by legendary music producer Sir George Martin, who passed away on March 8. The series combines unprecedented access to some of the most celebrated artists, producers and innovators from across the music spectrum, with rare archival studio footage and an extensive soundtrack, to deliver one of the most wide-ranging series on the art of music recording.

SOUNDBREAKING will air on PBS 6 weekdays, November 14-23, 2016.

Charting a century’s worth of innovation and experimentation in the creation of music, SOUNDBREAKING offers a behind-the-scenes look at the birth of new sounds.  From the invention of the microphone to the Moog synthesizer, from the phonograph to digital streaming, SOUNDBREAKING moves between past and present to tell the stories behind the sounds and reveals how innovation redefined not only what we listen to and how we listen to it, but our very sense of what music is and can be. Viewers of all ages will hear the songs they love in a whole new way.

“SOUNDBREAKING gives viewers a backstage pass with full access to some of the most ground-breaking moments in recorded music,” said Beth Hoppe, Chief Programming Executive and General Manager, General Audience Programming at PBS. “It is a natural fit for our diverse, music-loving PBS audience. We look forward to sharing it with viewers in November.”

The series features more than 150 exclusive and original interviews with such luminaries as Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Joni Mitchell, Roger Waters, Roger Daltrey, Linda Perry, Barry Gibb, Elton John, Debbie Harry, Quincy Jones, B.B. King, Annie Lennox, Dave Stewart, Mark Knopfler, Tom Petty, Willie Nelson, Bonnie Raitt, Lindsey Buckingham, Rosanne Cash, Don Was, Steven Van Zandt, Sheila E, Questlove, Ben Harper, Billy Idol, Beck, Imogen Heap, Darryl McDaniels, RZA, Bon Iver, Nile Rodgers, Nigel Godrich, Q-tip, Brian Eno, Mark Ronson, Rick Rubin, Tony Visconti and more.

“Music is the only common thread and universal language that binds us together regardless of race, nationality, age or income. And recorded music is how we experience it and what makes it accessible,” Sir George Martin said of the project prior to his passing. The six-time GRAMMY® Award winner, recipient of the Recording Academy Trustees Award and producer of more than 50 number-one hit records added, “SOUNDBREAKING afforded me the opportunity to tell the story of the creative process of so many of the artists I have worked with throughout my life.”


SOUNDBREAKING is presented by Higher Ground in association with the late Sir George Martin, and produced and directed by Emmy and Peabody Award®-winning filmmakers Maro Chermayeff and Jeff Dupre of Show of Force (Half the Sky, A Path Appears, Carrier, Circus, Marina Abramovic The Artist Is Present). The television series is the centerpiece of a multi-platform project that includes an extensive educational outreach initiative in partnership with PBS, The GRAMMY Museum® at L.A. LIVE and The Rock and Roll Forever Foundation. An interactive website, soundtrack CD and companion book with stunning photographs and unique interviews will also accompany the SOUNDBREAKING series.

Athena, an RLJ Entertainment, Inc., brand that specializes in high quality, informative, non-fiction programming, has acquired the electronic-sell-through (EST), subscription video on demand (SVOD) and home video rights in North America. Each SOUNDBREAKING episode will be made available for next-day digital purchase following its broadcast via multiple platforms including iTunes, Amazon Video, Vudu, Google Play, Microsoft Movies & TV and Sony Interactive Entertainment. The series will be released on DVD and Blu-ray on Tuesday, November 29.

“It took a wonderful team of highly seasoned producers many years to create this special and utterly unique series that we know the PBS audience will love,” said Maro Chermayeff, partner at Show of Force. “With access to rare material from the vast music archives of major and independent record labels, as well as special archival sources and collections, including some never publicly seen behind-the-scenes footage, this series breaks new ground and is frankly just incredibly fun to watch.”


“As a co-creator, Sir George Martin was the inspiration and intellectual force behind the SOUNDBREAKING project,” said Higher Ground founder David Langstaff. “He was involved with all phases of the project and was immensely proud of the way these great stories were being told. The fact that so many extraordinary singers, songwriters, producers and other artists came together to tell their stories is a testament to the respect and love they hold for Sir George, and the widespread recognition of his impact on the evolution of recorded music.”

Organized thematically, each episode of SOUNDBREAKING tells stories of pop music icons using their determination, ingenuity and guts to create works of art that have touched us all. Stories within the episodes include:

  • George Martin and the Beatles’ groundbreaking work in the studio creates a new paradigm for pop music
  • Phil Spector rises as the first “rock star producer”
  • Paul Epworth collaborates with Adele on “Rolling in the Deep”
  • Stevie Wonder embraces the synthesizer and makes a break with Motown 
  • Giorgio Moroder fuses R&B with electronica and the dance floor explodes
  • The art of sampling gives rise to hip-hop
  • Michael Jackson and Madonna take the art of the music video to new heights 
  • Miles Davis and Marvin Gaye use the long-playing record for new kinds of expression



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About PBS
PBS, with 350 member stations, offers all Americans the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television and online content. Each month, PBS reaches nearly 100 million people through television and nearly 33 million people online, inviting them to experience the worlds of science, history, nature and public affairs; to hear diverse viewpoints; and to take front row seats to world-class drama and performances. PBS’ broad array of programs has been consistently honored by the industry’s most coveted award competitions. Teachers of children from pre-K through 12th grade turn to PBS for digital content and services that help bring classroom lessons to life. PBS’ premier children’s TV programming and its website, pbskids.org, are parents’ and teachers’ most trusted partners in inspiring and nurturing curiosity and love of learning in children. More information about PBS is available at www.pbs.org, one of the leading dot-org websites on the Internet, or by following PBS on Twitter, Facebook or through our apps for mobile devices. Specific program information and updates for press are available at pbs.org/pressroom or by following PBS Pressroom on Twitter.

About Higher Ground
Higher Ground is the creator of the SOUNDBREAKING entertainment brand. The firm was founded by David H. Langstaff and a small group of music lovers to produce the SOUNDBREAKING project, which grew out of a relationship between Sir George Martin and the Langstaff family. Through SOUNDBREAKING, Higher Ground aims to educate audiences on the relatively brief history of sound recording – just over 100 years – which is one of the most important stories of the 20th century.

About Show of Force
Show of Force was founded in 2006 by veteran film and television producers Maro Chermayeff and Jeff Dupre and is known for creating award-winning feature documentaries, event television series and groundbreaking transmedia projects. Their work includes the Peabody and Emmy Award-winning Marina Abramović: The Artist is Present for HBO, Kehinde Wiley: An Economy of Grace, the 2014 SXSW Jury Prize winner for Best Documentary Short; Mann v. Ford, a feature-length documentary for HBO; the 6-hour PBS series Circus; and the Emmy Award-winning 10-hour PBS series Carrier.  Their projects A Path Appears and Emmy Honors recipient Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, based on the bestselling books by the Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, were broadcast on PBS/Independent Lens.  These multi-platform initiatives reached more than 50 million people worldwide, garnered some 3 billion media impressions and included mobile games and a Facebook game with over 2 million players worldwide.

Carter Little (Executive Music Producer) is a music supervisor and soundtrack album producer whose credits include the RZA’s The Man With the Iron Fists, Sony Pictures Classics’ I Saw The Light (Hank Williams biopic), and HBO’s Marina Abramović: The Artist is Present.  Little has collaborated on soundtrack albums with Grammy award-winning artists including The Black Keys, Fleet Foxes, Kanye West and Whiz Khalifa, among others.

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