Century of Song is entirely dedicated to the great songwriters‘ art – a homage to the sung three minute miniature. All the programs and events are planned exclusively for Century of Song. The first musical curator of the series between 2003 and 2005 was Grammy-Award winning jazz guitarist Bill Frisell. Guests have included songwriters such as Rickie Lee Jones, Suzanne Vega, Patti Smith, Vic Chesnutt, Van Dyke Parks, Loudon Wainwright III, Ron Sexsmith, Chip Taylor, Buddy Miller, The Campbell Brothers, Marc Ribot, Vinicius Cantuária and Elvis Costello.
The musical core of these evenings was provided by Frisell and his musicians. Together with the invited guest stars they created new arrangements of their best-known songs. The second element underlying this English-American series were the songs written by songwriters whom the invited musicians hold dear and which they performed together with Frisell and his band at Century of Song. This aspect has, in the past, often led to moving scenes. Such as when Rickie Lee Jones rediscovered hits by Dan Penn and sang the Beatles‘ »You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away« ; when Vic Chesnutt paid tribute to the songs of Hoagy Carmichael; when Patti Smith shouted Bob Dylan’s "Like a Rolling Stone" or songs by Phil Spector; when Marc Ribot discovered songs from the Civil War, when Loudon Wainwright serenaded his idol Hank Williams; when Chip Taylor, Carrie Rodriguez and Buddy Miller transformed Chuck Berry into Country music or when Elvis Costello sang the songs of the great Charles Mingus.
In August and September 2006 bassist and arranger Greg Cohen will be successor of Bill Frisell as musical director of Century of Song. He invited songwriters and performers such as David Byrne, Joe Henry, Holly Cole, Gianmaria Testa and Laurie Anderson who will perform with Greg Cohen and pianoman Steve Nieve.