(From Bob Dotson, NBC News National Correspondent)
A lot of people who climb the ladder of success find that it's been leaning against the wrong wall. Joshua Bell made it to the top. Received a big prize. But is not too comfortable with just one ladder. He's our profile this morning on American Story with Bob Dotson. WATCH VIDEO
Bell is something rare, a musician who loves and excels at all sorts of music. Not just performing. Teaching, too.
Not all teachers are found in schools. I met a history teacher named Jimmy Driftwood in a barn. His students were having difficulty remembering the details of the War of 1812. So, Jimmy picked something out on his guitar. He called it the "Battle of New Orleans." Country singer Johnny Horton heard it. Recorded it. And Jimmy Driftwood was offered a big time song-writing contract in Nashville.
He left. But when he came home on trips, he noticed something missing. He didn't hear the old songs his neighbors used to sing. And when he asked folks why, they said, "Jimmy, we don't hear our songs on radio. And we don't see ourselves on TV. We figured they must not matter."
That bothered Jimmy Driftwood. Bothered him so much, he left behind his lucrative recording career in Nashville and moved back, determined to do something about that. He scoured the countryside listening for the old tunes and coaxed his neighbors to come to his barn on Friday nights, so they could fill in the missing notes of their memories.
A funny thing happened. After a while the kids got curious and came to listen. Bluegrass music was back.
Joshua Bell plays Bluegrass. He's also one of the finest Classical violinists. Bell worries that the Classics may -- one day -- be heard only in museums. But when he performs, the music does not flow back into the past. It gathers invisibly around.
Spend some time with Joshua Bell this morning. Help him push Classical music back into Pop Culture. Then let me know what you think. Drop a note in my mailbox on the Today Show webpage, American Story with Bob Dotson. Have a story idea? Put that in there, too.