Sept. 9 Release: ‘Rock & Roll President’ a Musical Tribute

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Carter with Willie Nelson

Interviews with musical legends Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, Rosanne Cash, Gregg Allman, Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood and others set the stage for a documentary that’s a tribute to both musical history and an American president who used music to form a connection with diverse groups across the country.

“Jimmy Carter Rock & Roll President,” a film directed by award-winning music documentarian Mary Wharton, examines President Jimmy Carter’s lifelong passion for music, and is set for virtual release on Sept. 9 and home entertainment release Oct. 9, 2020.

Music gave the President, a little-known peanut farmer from Georgia, an unexpected edge as a presidential candidate. His connection to some of the biggest names in music of the day not only tapped into a force that transcended racial and generational divides, but also party lines.


Carter’s appreciation for all genres of music and friendships with legendary musicians and songwriters may have seemed like an unlikely alliance but helped define his administration.

Director Mary Wharton, who grew up immersed in music as the daughter of blues musician Bill Wharton, is a producer-writer-director known for music-themed documentaries including, “Joan Baez: How Sweet The Sound” (2009) and the 2004 Grammy winner “Sam Cooke: Legend.” She produced episodes of the VH1 series “Behind the Music” and network television specials “Elvis Lives” (2002) and “The Beatles Revolution” (2001), as well as documentaries for the VH1 “Legends” series about U2, David Bowie, The Doors, Elton John, George Clinton and Jimi Hendrix. She served as a producer on the Grammy-winning documentary “Bruce Springsteen: Wings For Wheels, The Making of Born To Run” (Sony/BMG, 2005) and as an Executive Producer of “Tell Them Anything You Want: A Profile of Maurice Sendak,” directed by Lance Bangs and Spike Jonze (HBO, 2009).

Her latest project, “Jimmy Carter Rock & Roll President,” weaves intimate interviews with Carter along with Willie Nelson, Bono, Bob Dylan, Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood, Jimmy Buffett, Rosanne Cash, Chuck Leavell, Paul Simon, Andrew Young and Madeleine Albright, to present a nostalgic yet profound look at the influence of rock and roll culture and the man who the country knew as our 39th president.

Wharton on set with Paul Simon for his interview

Through rare archival live performances, Wharton traces how the music combined with Carter’s genuine approachability that became key to his political appeal, and allowed him to connect with voters.

Greenwich Entertainment will release “Rock & Roll President” in theaters and virtual cinemas nationwide on Wednesday, Sept. 9, and via home entertainment release will be Friday, Oct. 9

“The documentary delivers on the promise of its title, with a fresh, buoyant look at the importance of music in the former president’s personal and political life,” wrote Caryn James of the Hollywood Reporter.

“The fact that Jimmy Carter became the first U.S. president to express, in ways both big and small, a profound affinity with rock ‘n’ roll culture … Yet in telling that story, the film touches on something larger,” said Owen Gleiberman of Variety.
“It’s about the forces that have to come together to make America work.”

Journalist Laurie Schenden covers the entertainment industry, with many of her notable celebrity interviews appearing in the Los Angeles Times and other national and international publications. As a longtime columnist and feature writer for the LA Times, she also covered events and California destinations for the lifestyle, Outdoors and Travel sections. Laurie Schenden's international pieces include the long-running Where Are They Now celebrity feature for Spotlight Magazine, published in five languages. Laurie has also contributed to numerous documentary films, and produces content via Saving Grace Films.

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