As this historic U.S. presidential election season concludes and the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump approaches, the research website Trax on the Trail is celebrating the one-year anniversary of its launch on Dec. 1, 2015. On that day, the site’s creator, Dana Gorzelany-Mostak, along with her staff and contributors, made a database, essays and other resources related to presidential campaign music available to the public. “Trail Trax,” the database of campaign music on traxonthetrail.com, now contains over 8,000 tracked instances of music on the 2016 presidential campaign trail. The site also features a database for scholars containing bibliographic data for over 1,300 articles that address music on the trail and has published 26 essays by contributors from varied fields covering a wide range of campaign music topics.
Georgia College in Milledgeville, Ga. is Trax on the Trail’s sponsor, so many of the project’s staff members are students at the university. Sarah Kitts, a research assistant on the project, has played a large part in the design and maintenance of the site’s database and helped present the team’s findings at the American Musicological Society Conference in Vancouver on Nov. 5.
“Working for Trax has been one of the greatest opportunities I’ve had here at Georgia College,” Kitts said. “It has been an exciting journey to watch history happen as it unfolds and document music’s role in the 2016 campaign. Over a year of following a busy election season has paid off in the success of the website.”
Since its launch, Trax on the Trail has been cited in the press many times, including articles in Creative Loafing, The Guardian, Boston Herald, Pacific Standard and Atlanta Business Chronicle. Additionally, Trax staff and contributors created eight podcasts on campaign music in collaboration with WRGC 88.3 FM, Georgia College’s radio station. Trax on the Trail has also developed teaching materials for educators, including a unit on rock music in campaigns created in collaboration with the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
Although new content will not be added on a daily basis, the Trax site will remain active as the staff takes the project in new directions. At present, Gorzelany-Mostak is working with the journal American Music, co-editor Sally Bick (University of Windsor) and Trax contributors to create a special issue dedicated to music and the 2016 campaign.
Musicologists, educators, scholars and organizations interested in collaborating with Trax on the Trail are encouraged to contact Dana Gorzelany-Mostak, creator and co-editor of the project and assistant professor of music at Georgia College. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 478-445-8630.