Producer David Macias is at work on a 50-track collection of songs that will span the breadth of American music.

Producer David Macias is at work on a 50-track collection of songs that will span the breadth of American music. The new project comes on the heels of last summer's "Beautiful Dreamer: The Songs of Stephen Foster," which was co-produced by Macias and earned him a Grammy nomination for best traditional folk album.

The forthcoming "Song of America" was actually the brainchild of former United States Attorney General Janet Reno, who was given a copy of "Beautiful Dreamer" during a recent visit to Nashville. Macias' Emergent Records imprint will release the new set, which he will co-produce with Reno's niece's husband, songwriter Ed Pettersen.

"I got a call asking if I'd like to have lunch with Janet Reno," Macias recalls. "So I said, 'Well sure, sure I would.' The conversation centered on this idea of telling the story of American through its songs. Basically, we want to go back to colonial times, through the revolutionary war and retrace the country's footsteps to the current day with a musical narrative of what happened."

Although the material is still being chosen, Macias says artists such as BR549 and Beth Nielsen Chapman have already signed on. In addition, Macias has established a relationship with Deane Root, the director of the Center for American Music at the University of Pittsburgh.

"He has agreed to let us base the album on much of the work that he has done in putting together the 'Voices Across Time' project, a vital tool for teachers that want to use sound recordings to enhance their efforts in teaching history," Macias says. "We feel very lucky that he has signed on."

Proceeds from "Song of America," which is being eyed for a 2006 release, will be donated to folk music education efforts. Reno and Macias will also attend the Grammys on Sunday (Feb. 13) to spread the word about the project.