Somebody once asked a gospel singer if he was an entertainer or a preacher.  He answered, “Yes.”

Michael Lasser in talks at museums, universities, performing arts centers, and libraries all over the country are, likewise, a mix of substance and entertainment, serious purpose and lighthearted irreverence.  After all, he says, “I’m talking about popular songs, not the future of the Republic.”

That doesn’t mean he isn’t serious about American songs and the men and women who wrote them. As he explains:


“One of the most telling moments happened at the end when you asked if anyone had questions.  One visitor said, ‘Yes.  Is there any more!’”

                   Melinda Georgeson
Director of Education
                   The Norman Rockwell Museum

"I do think popular music has something valuable to tell us about ourselves if we stop and listen to it. It opens a revealing and entertaining window on American attitudes for the last 150 years. For the last 25 of those years, I've been talking about popular music as social history--about songs and the America they reflect."

Lasser’s subjects range from the beginnings of the minstrel show in the 1830s to the arrival of rock ‘n’ roll in the 1950s.  In the last  years, he’s averaged more than two dozen talks and concerts per year in a total of 36 states and the District of Columbia – from Maine to California, Florida to Washington, Mississippi to Minnesota.

In addition to the talks, he also performs with singers Jessica Ann Best and Alan Jones. “Nobody in his right mind wants to hear me sing,” he says, “but Jessica and Alan have a gift for being able to perform the songs of two centuries with insight and delight, and my job is to give the songs context in an entertaining way.”

For more information about talks select the links below:
Current Calendar for Scheduled Talks
Talks and Concerts - a partial list of available programs
Select comments from talk organizers
Where Michael has given his talks


Calendar of Scheduled Talks

City Songs

Books Backstage, Rochester Music Hall of Fame
Wednesday, March 9, 2022

 Hallelujah: The First All-Black Musical

Dryden Theater, George Eastman Museum
Wednesday, March 16, 2022

 Irving Berlin’s Alexander’s Ragtime Band

Dryden Theater, George Eastman Museum
Wednesday, April 20, 2022

 Always ‘Always’: The Story of America’s Beloved Song

Rochester Torch Club, Joint meeting with Buffalo Torch Club, Batavia, NY
Thursday, May 5, 2022

 For Me and My Gal

Dryden Theater, George Eastman Museum
Wednesday, May 18, 2022

 Yankee Doodle Dandy

Dryden Theater, George Eastman Museum
Wednesday, June 15, 2022

 “Dancing and Romancing on Broadway”

Osher at RIT
Tuesday, July 12, 2022

 It’s Always Fair Weather

Dryden Theater, George Eastman Museum
Wednesday, September 28, 2022



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