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Ohio Prepares For Rock And Politics

As Ohio prepares to host a national political convention in 2016, The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is getting ready too.  The Hall will get some guidance on the new project  from some high profile Columbus leaders recently appointed to the Hall of Fame board.  Among those offering suggestions is Ohio State University  President Michael Drake.

Rock Hall of Fame CEO Greg Harris recently visited Columbus to welcome executives, George Barrett of Cardinal Health, Nick Akins of American Electric Power and Michael Drake, president of OSU.  All three are musicians and joined a house band at Shadowbox Live to play some popular rock tunes .

Greg Harris says the Columbus executives  join the Rock Hall of Fame board at a time when Ohio will move into a national media spotlight.

"Next year we're going to do an exhibition about rock and politics. It's because Ohio is such an important state in the national election and hosting the RNC doesn't hurt. So we're going to feature that and feature that story in our exhibition," says Harris.

OSU President Drake knows the story of music and politics.  He teaches a college class on popular music and politics during the Civil Rights era of the late 1950s and early '60s.

Drake says he uses popular music as a way to show how the country absorbed social and cultural upheaval.  
"Of the artists, we focus on a series of them but we focus a lot on Sam Cooke who really came from gospel  into popular music and reflected so many of those things so well," says Drake. "I mentioned Sly and the Family Stone who are important to us toward the end .  'Everyday People' and  'Stand'  really important songs there. I see James Brown and the change he made going forward…."

Drake says music illuminates and effectively brings history and politics to life for today's students.  

"You know up through the '50s, music was pretty well segregated  but crossover artists like Ray Charles and others toward the end of the 50s really made it okay to listen to music that other people were playing and I think broadened the cultural connectivity of the country  very, very wonderfully. And then television brought people into the home and showed you that they were safe. So I think that all worked together.   

Drake's class on popular music will be offered for the first time to Ohio State students during the upcoming school year.