Explore the history of a uniquely American art form: country music. From its deep and tangled roots in ballads, blues and hymns performed in small settings, to its worldwide popularity, learn how country music evolved over the course of the 20th century, as it eventually emerged to become America’s music.
Country Music features never-before-seen footage and photographs, plus interviews with more than 80 country music artists. The eight-part 16-hour series is directed and produced by Ken Burns; written and produced by Dayton Duncan; and produced by Julie Dunfey.
Country Music explores questions –– such as “What is country music?” and “Where did it come from?“–– while focusing on the biographies of the fascinating characters who created and shaped it — from the Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers and Bob Wills to Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Loretta Lynn, Charley Pride, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, Garth Brooks and many more — as well as the times in which they lived. Much like the music itself, the film tells unforgettable stories of hardships and joys shared by everyday people. No one has told the story this way before.
Bristol’s reputation as a Mecca for music was launched in 1927, along with the careers of musical legends the Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers and others, in what has been lauded the “Big Bang” of country music — the historic Bristol Sessions.
How big a role did the 1927 Bristol Sessions play in country music? The legendary Johnny Cash called them “the single most important event in the history of country music.” In 1998, Congress designated Bristol the official “Birthplace of Country Music.” Today, the Birthplace of Country Music Museum keeps local music traditions alive and continues to tell the story of the musical and cultural heritage of the region, its role in the birth and development of country music, and its influence on music around the world.
Photos of Ken Burns Visit to the Birthplace of Country Music Museum in March 2019.
The Birthplace of Country Music Museum, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, tells the story of the 1927 Bristol Sessions recordings, explores how evolving sound technology shaped their success, and highlights how this rich musical heritage lives on in today’s music. Through text and artifacts, multiple theater experiences, and interactive displays – along with a variety of educational programs, music performances, and community events – the exciting story of these recording sessions and their far-reaching influence comes alive.
Rotating exhibitions from guest curators and other institutions, including the Smithsonian, are featured throughout the year in the Special Exhibits Gallery. The museum also houses a collection of related objects, photographs and paper ephemera, and digital items.
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