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Ken Burns' 'Country Music' to premiere on AETN Sept. 15
Posted 14 Aug 2019
"Country Music," an eight-part, 16-hour documentary film series directed by Ken Burns and produced by Burns and his long-time collaborators Dayton Duncan and Julie Dunfey, will premiere on the Arkansas Educational Television Network Sunday, Sept. 15, at 7 p.m.
The film follows the evolution of country music over the course of the 20th century as it eventually emerges to become "America's music." The first four episodes will air Sept. 15 through Wednesday, Sept. 18, and the final four episodes will air Sunday, Sept. 22, through Wednesday, Sept. 25, at 7 each night. Immediately following each episode, AETN will air the local series "Talkin' Country."
"Country Music" explores crucial questions – "What is country music?" and "Where did it come from?" – while focusing on the biographies of the fascinating trailblazers who created and shaped it – from the Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers, Bill Monroe 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.
Duncan, Burns and Dunfey spent eight years researching and producing the film, conducting interviews with more than 100 people, including 40 members of the Country Music Hall of Fame (17 of those interviewed have since passed on). Among those storytellers are historian Bill Malone and a wide range of country artists such as Marty Stuart, Rosanne Cash, Vince Gill, Reba McEntire, Merle Haggard, Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, Dwight Yoakam, Emmylou Harris, Kris Kristofferson and Naomi and Wynonna Judd, as well as studio musicians, record producers and others. The film uses more than 3,200 photographs and over two hours of archival footage, including rare and never-before-seen photos and footage of Jimmie Rodgers, Johnny Cash and others.
AETN is kicking off its local "Country Music" campaign, which will include the following:
- Preview screening events – AETN will host its first "Country Music" preview screening Friday, Aug. 16, at 8 p.m. at the Ron Robinson Theater, 100 River Market Ave., Little Rock. This free preview screening will be followed by a concert with Arkansas's own The Salty Dogs and special guests, including Buck Trent, Tim Crouch and Chuck Dodson. AETN will also partner with the Fayetteville Roots Festival for a free preview screening Saturday, Aug. 24, at 11 a.m., at the Fayetteville Public Library, 401 W. Mountain St. A panel discussion will immediately follow the screening. Panelists include Grammy Award-nominated singer-songwriters Rhiannon Giddens and Darrell Scott, Americana duo The Honey Dewdrops, and AETN Marketing and Engagement Director Julie Thomas. An additional free preview screening will be held Sunday, Aug. 25, at 1 p.m., at the Fayetteville Public Library.
- Local productions – AETN is telling many of Arkansas's country music stories, shining a light on the rich country music history of the state. Profiles of prominent Arkansas country artists and figures, along with performances, interviews and more, will be featured on AETN's social media pages, as well as each night before the broadcast of "Country Music." After the broadcast each night, AETN will air "Talkin' Country" with host Bob Robbins, Arkansas radio icon and 105.1 The Wolf morning personality, along with country music experts Charles Haymes, country music journalist and vice president of the Arkansas Country Music Awards, Jon Raney, chief engineer at Raney Recording Studio, and other special guests, discussing each night's episode. Country music-focused programming, including a special edition of "Exploring Arkansas," performances from "AETN Presents: On the Front Row" and more, will also be featured throughout September.
- Educational resources – There will be a robust interactive website and an educational initiative designed to engage teachers and students through multiple platforms, including AETN PBS LearningMedia.
Additional information about AETN's local "Country Music" campaign, including all the ways to watch, locally-produced content and more is available at aetn.org/countrymusic.
In advance of the premiere, PBS will debut a two-hour special, "Country Music: Live at the Ryman, a Concert Celebrating the Film by Ken Burns," Sunday, Sept. 8, at 7 p.m. Hosted by Burns, the show features performances and appearances by celebrated musicians Dierks Bentley, Rosanne Cash, Rhiannon Giddens, Vince Gill, Kathy Mattea, Marty Stuart, Dwight Yoakam and more.
"Country Music" boasts nearly 600 music cues over the 16 hours. In the fall of 2019, Legacy Recordings, a division of Sony Music Entertainment, will release a comprehensive suite of soundtrack music products timed to the PBS broadcast of "Country Music."
Alfred A. Knopf, Burns' longtime publisher, will issue the companion book, "Country Music: An Illustrated History," written by Duncan and with an introduction by Burns. The 464-page work includes over 400 images, many of which are not seen in the film.
"Country Music" will stream for free on all station-branded PBS platforms, including PBS.org and the PBS Video App, available on iOS, Android, Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Chromecast. The first four episodes will be available timed to the Sunday, Sept. 15, premiere and the second four timed to the broadcast of episode 5 on Sunday, Sept. 22 (each episode will stream for a period of three weeks). PBS station members will be able to stream the entire series via Passport for a period of six months beginning Sunday, Sept. 15.
Funding for "Country Music" is provided by Bank of America, the Annenberg Foundation, the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, Belmont University, Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, Rosalind P. Walter and by members of 'The Better Angels Society,' including: The Blavatnik Family Foundation, the Schwartz/Reisman Foundation, the Pfeil Foundation, Diane and Hal Brierley, John and Catherine Debs, the Fullerton Family Charitable Fund, the Perry and Donna Golkin Family Foundation, Jay Alix and Una Jackman, Mercedes T. Bass, Fred and Donna Seigel, Gilchrist and Amy Berg, James R. Berdell Foundation, David Bonderman, Deborah P. and Jonathan T. Dawson, Senator Bill and Tracy Frist, Susan and David Kreisman, Rocco and Debby Landesman, Lillian Lovelace, John and Leslie McQuown, Mindy's Hope Foundation, the Segal Family Foundation, Michelle Smith. Major funding was provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and PBS.
"Country Music" is a production of Florentine Films and WETA, Washington, DC.
The Arkansas Educational Television Network is Arkansas's only statewide public media network, which enhances lives by providing lifelong learning opportunities for people from all walks of life. AETN delivers local, award-winning productions and classic, trusted PBS programs aimed at sharing Arkansas and the world with viewers through the distinct channels AETN PBS, AETN Create, AETN PBS KIDS, AETN World and AETN AIRS on SAP. Audiences can also watch on several digital platforms, and members with AETN Passport have extended on-demand access to a rich library of public television programming. AETN depends on the generosity of Arkansans and the State of Arkansas to continue offering quality programming. Additional information is available at aetn.org. AETN is broadcast on KETS (Little Rock), KEMV (Mountain View), KETG (Arkadelphia), KAFT (Fayetteville), KTEJ (Jonesboro) and KETZ (El Dorado).