Country Music, a Film by Ken Burns, Comes to KUED
KUED invites viewers to journey through the compelling history of a truly American art form when Country Music, a new eight-part, 16-hour film directed by Ken Burns, premieres Sunday, September 15 at 7:00 p.m. on KUED Channel 7. The series will air Sunday through Wednesday for two consecutive weeks.
The documentary, co-produced by Burns and his longtime collaborators Dayton Duncan and Julie Dunfey, chronicles country music’s early days, from Southern Appalachia’s songs of struggle, heartbreak, and faith to the rollicking Western swing of Texas, California’s honky-tonks, and Nashville’s “Grand Ole Opry.” The film follows the evolution of country music over the course of the 20th century as it eventually emerges to become “America’s Music.”
Country Music explores crucial questions – “What is country music?” and “Where did it come from?” – while focusing on the biographies of the 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. Much like the music itself, the film tells unforgettable stories of hardships and joy shared by everyday people.
In addition to broadcasting Ken Burns’ Country Music, KUED is coordinating two companion events, which will provide opportunities for the community to experience and celebrate country music.
In partnership with Osher, Lifelong Learning, and The City Library, KUED will offer a four-part course: Why You Love Country Music, Even If You Don’t. “Lifelong learners” who sign up for this unique class will train their ears with musicologists and songwriting experts and explore where country music came from and how it reflects and influences American society today.
KUED’s Community Engagement Coordinator, Laura Durham, came up with the idea for the course while she was researching country music. She said, “It became clear how the music one listens to can have perceived identifiers for social class, political affiliation, and even intelligence. I wanted to create an opportunity to bridge that divide. By bringing in academics and musicians who understand the roots of country music, its tremendous influence, I hope their classes can provide a space where those who don’t understand the merits of country can explore its value, its truth, and impact – as it relates to them and the other musical genres they enjoy.”
The class will meet on Wednesdays from 3:15 – 4:45 p.m., September 11, 18, and 25 in the auditorium at The City Library. In the first class, “What Rock Owes Country” students will take inventory of the ways in which country music fed sixties groups like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. In the second class “Everybody Has a Song…Find Yours” award-winning singer/songwriters Monty Powell and Anna Wilson will guide students on a musical journey to write an original song. The third class “Country Crossovers,” will reveal the history of country music crossover into mainstream America from various angles.
The course culminates with a 35-minute film screening featuring exclusive clips from Ken Burns’ Country Music, followed by a country covers concert. Local music acts Color Animal, Kate McCleod, and The Hollering Pines will pay tribute to the genre by performing covers of their favorite country music songs. The film screening and concert which will take place on Thursday, September 26 at 7:00 p.m. at The City Library is open to the public.
“At the heart of every great country music song is story,” said Ken Burns. “As the songwriter Harlan Howard said, ‘It’s three chords and the truth.’ The common experiences and human emotions speak to each of us about love and loss, about hard times and the chance of redemption. As an art form, country music is also forever revisiting its history, sharing and updating classics, and celebrating its roots, which are, in many ways, foundational to our country itself.”
“We discovered that country music isn’t – and never was – one type of music; it actually is many styles,” said Dayton Duncan. “It sprang from diverse roots, and it sprouted many branches. What unites them all is the way the music connects personal stories and elemental experiences with universal themes that every person can relate to. And as it evolved, from the bottom up, it created a special bond between the artists and fans that is unique among all other musical genres.”
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). The film uses more than 3200 photographs and over two hours of archival footage, including rare and never before seen photos and footage of country music legends.
Burns tells the remarkable story of country music in a way that hasn’t been told before. Country music is complex, and oftentimes the genre is misunderstood, but the film urges viewers to consider the genre differently than they may have before, to recognize its contribution to music and its impact on American culture. KUED is thrilled to share Country Music not only with fans of the genre, but those that have yet to realize they are country music converts.
Sun. Sep. 15, 7PM
Mon. Sep. 16, 7PM
Tue. Sep. 17, 7PM
Wed. Sep. 18, 7PM
Sun. Sep. 22, 7PM
Mon. Sep. 23, 7PM
Tue. Sep. 24, 7PM
Wed. Sep. 25, 7PM
Official website for Country Music contains filmmakers bios, a preview of the film, and more.
Register for Why You Love Country Music, Even If You Don’t by calling 801-581-7155 or visiting continue.utah.edu/osher.