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CNN Today

Experience Music Project is a Rock 'n' Roll Experience

Aired February 15, 2001 - 4:42 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LAURIN SYDNEY, CNN ANCHOR: Hollywood is getting into a musical mood in preparation for next Wednesday's 43rd annual Grammy Awards, and no one is a bigger fan of rock 'n' roll than former Microsoft zillionaire Paul Allen. He actually created his own rock museum in Seattle called Experience Music Project. A traveling version of that is now headquartered at L.A.'s Staples Center, site of the Grammys, and site of our own Paul Vercammen who is there.

Having fun? What are you doing?

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm having a great time -- I'm rocking out, of course; and I'm inside a semi trailer that's all part of the Electric Bus, Laurin, you can see behind me.

And this exhibit just is just a blast. What you do is you walk along here and you take things in. Here you got Hendrix and Dylan and part of their shared experience. Don't forget that Hendrix covered "All Along the Watchtower." Then you walk over somewhere else -- again, I'm in a trailer, and you see Kurt Cobain's early roots and how he smashed up a guitar rather well. Is that the Mod Squad? I think it is, on Kurt's guitar.

All this, along with the Grammy Foundation, is meant to sort of educate schoolchildren about our shared cultural experience that is rock 'n' roll. And they did have Sisqo come on in here earlier today, and he had some very inspirational words for schoolchildren.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SISQO: I'm just hoping at least one or two kids understood what I was saying when I was saying that they were the future. Hopefully they looked at me and said, hey, he doesn't look too much -- too far from, you know, school. He doesn't look like he's too much older than we are, so maybe he does know what he's talking about.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VERCAMMEN: And now joining me live is Bob Santelli -- we'll call you the driver of this educational bus. And as we look behind you, another part -- "Songs of War and Peace." What kind of response are you getting from the schoolchildren that come in here?

BOB SANTELLI, EXPERIENCE MUSIC PROJECT: Well, you know what they're learning, Paul, is that songs are written for many reasons and songs are sung for many reasons. And in this area of bus we show, for instance, how songs of war and peace has affected America's viewpoint on war and peace. So we go from "Imagine" with John Lennon over to a song like "White Christmas," that many people might not think was about war, but in World War II, that was very, very important to the servicemen across the sea.

VERCAMMEN: And right now we're looking at some of the schoolchildren playing along, having a great time. There's a lot of interactivity here; they don't just stand and watch things.

SANTELLI: No; you know, the real reason behind the Electric Bus success is that it's very interactive. It's designed to get the kids immersed into the exhibits, and force them to confront the music head on.

VERCAMMEN: And we should note that this bus is going on the road. Tell us where some of your next stops will be.

SANTELLI: Well, after the Grammys, we head south and go through Texas, through Mississippi and into Georgia and Florida and then we come back after the school year is over.

VERCAMMEN: Now -- right now, we're looking at "Songs of Freedom and Struggle." How did you make some of your selections as to what to take on the road?

SANTELLI: Well, some of the songs here are iconic songs -- they're classics like Bob Marley's "Get Up, Stand Up," or Woody Guthrie's "Union Maid," "Fight the Power" by Public Enemy. These are songs that kind of represent either frustration or the struggle for freedom.

VERCAMMEN: And quickly, over here you see "Songs of Youth and Identity," yet another part of the project; and what were you hoping to kind of drive home here?

SANTELLI: Well, some of the greatest songs have been written by youth for youth. And as we listen to a song like "My Generation" by The Who, this is a song that helped define the baby-boom generation.

VERCAMMEN: Great, Bob; thank you so much for taking your time out.

This is all part of the Electric Bus, the Magical Mystery Tour of rock 'n' roll that is now here in Los Angeles, and obviously a lot of people are having a lot of fun with it.

Now back to you, Laurin Sydney, in New York.

SYDNEY: Thank you so much, Paul.

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