Country Music (miniseries)

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Country Music
Country Music TV Series Title Card.jpg
Created byKen Burns
Written byDayton Duncan[1]
Directed byKen Burns
Narrated byPeter Coyote[2]
Country of originUnited States
No. of episodes8[3]
Producer(s)Julie Dunfey
Running time120 minutes[4]
Production company(s)Florentine Films
Original networkPBS
Original releaseSeptember 15 (2019-09-15) –
September 25, 2019 (2019-09-25)
External links

Country Music is a documentary miniseries produced by Ken Burns and written by Dayton Duncan that premiered on PBS on September 15, 2019. The eight-part series chronicles the rise and prominance of country music in American culture.[5][6]


Burns announced the miniseries in 2014, with a projected airdate in 2018. Burns cited his ongoing work on other documentary projects as having affected progress on the series.[7][8] Writer Dayton Duncan explained that the goal of the series was to demonstrate that country music "isn't and never was just one type of music. It was always this amalgam of American music and it sprang from a lot of very different roots and then, as it grew, it sprouted many different branches, but they're all connected." Burns filmed a total of 175 hours of interviews with 101 artists and other personalities for the series; some were recorded as early as 2012, and some of the interviewees (such as Little Jimmy Dickens, Roy Clark and Merle Haggard) died over the course of production.[9]


The miniseries premiered on September 15, 2019, as a series of eight two-hour episodes. As a prelude to the premiere, Burns hosted a concert special filmed at the Ryman Auditorium, featuring Dierks Bentley, Rosanne Cash, Rodney Crowell, and Marty Stuart among others, which aired September 8, 2019.[10][11]


No.Title [12]Original air dateUS viewers
1"The Rub (beginnings to 1933)"September 15, 2019 (2019-09-15)N/A
Early performers Fiddlin' John Carson and Uncle Dave Macon, the genre's roots in folk and Southern gospel, WSM and the Grand Ole Opry, and Ralph Peer and the genre's first stars - the Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers.[13][14]
2"Hard Times (1933-1945)"September 16, 2019 (2019-09-16)N/A
Roy Acuff and Nashville's increasing role in the genre, singing cowboy acts such as Gene Autry, the western swing of Bob Wills, Dust Bowl refugee acts such as the Maddox Brothers and Rose and Woody Guthrie, the ASCAP boycott, and World War II.[15]
3"The Hillbilly Shakespeare (1945-1953)"September 17, 2019 (2019-09-17)N/A
Bluegrass and honky-tonk emerge; Bill Monroe and Flatt & Scruggs pioneer the former, while Ernest Tubb, Lefty Frizzell, and Hank Williams exemplify the latter and Williams becomes country music's biggest star.[16]
4"I Can't Stop Loving You (1953-1963)"September 18, 2019 (2019-09-18)N/A
The heyday of rockabilly, the career launches of Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley, the birth of Music Row and influx of new songwriters, and the dominance of the Nashville sound typified by Patsy Cline.[17]
5"The Sons and Daughters of America (1964-1968)"September 22, 2019 (2019-09-22)N/A
Buck Owens ushers in the Bakersfield sound, Loretta Lynn and Charley Pride bring new viewpoints to a changing landscape, Merle Haggard emerges as the genre's great songwriting star, and Johnny Cash descends into self-destruction but returns artistically and personally triumphant.[18]
6"Will the Circle Be Unbroken? (1968-1972)"September 23, 2019 (2019-09-23)TBD
As the industry and its audience react to the great social upheavals of the time, George Jones and Tammy Wynette emerge as great stars, and the Nashville songwriting scene is changed by the arrival of writers from outside the genre such as Kris Kristofferson.[19]
7"Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way? (1973-1983)"September 24, 2019 (2019-09-24)TBD
"Outlaw" artists Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings gain unprecedented artistic control of their careers, and the genre's identity broadens, with Dolly Parton and others achieving crossover success while artists from outside its conventions such as Emmylou Harris arrive.[20]
8"Don't Get Above Your Raisin' (1984-1996)"September 25, 2019 (2019-09-25)TBD
Artists like Ricky Skaggs and Dwight Yoakam steer the genre back to its more traditional elements, Garth Brooks achieves levels of success unmatched by any previous country artist, and Johnny Cash ends his career with a series of unexpected but well-received albums.[21]


Review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes gave the series a 82% fresh rating, based on 22 reviews. The critic consensus[clarification needed] says the series "an expansive -- if not always deep -- history of the genre as seen through Ken Burns's expert eye, Country Music works as both a crash course for new listeners and a refresher for old-timers."[22]


  1. ^ Turnquist, Kristi (September 12, 2019). "Ken Burns on his 'Country Music' series, busting stereotypes, and avoiding partisan divides: 'We're not political filmmakers'". The Oregonian. Retrieved September 12, 2019.
  2. ^ Greiving, Tim (September 24, 2019). "The Golden Voice Behind All Those Ken Burns Documentaries". Vulture. New York Media. Retrieved September 25, 2019.
  3. ^ Caramanica, Jon (September 12, 2019). "Ken Burns's 'Country Music' Traces the Genre's Victories, and Reveals Its Blind Spots". The New York Times. Retrieved September 12, 2019.
  4. ^ Justin, Neal (September 12, 2019). "Women and minorities take center stage in Ken Burns' 16-hour documentary, 'Country Music'". Star Tribune. Retrieved September 12, 2019.
  5. ^ Elijah Holley, Santi (September 11, 2019). "An Interview with Ken Burns About His Must-See Country Music". The Stranger. Retrieved September 13, 2019.
  6. ^ Tucker, Ken (September 12, 2019). "Filmmaker Ken Burns Goes Wide, But Not Deep, In His Chronicle Of 'Country Music'". NPR. Retrieved September 12, 2019.
  7. ^ Grow, Kory (January 21, 2014). "Ken Burns to Ask 'What Is Country Music?' in New Doc". Rolling Stone. Retrieved September 15, 2019.
  8. ^ DeLuca, Dan. "What is country music? It's a complicated question, and Ken Burns has a 16-hour answer". Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved September 15, 2019.
  9. ^ Freeman, Jon (September 13, 2019). "Ken Burns: Inside the Filmmaker's Epic 'Country Music' Series". Rolling Stone. Retrieved September 15, 2019.
  10. ^ Betts, Stephen L. (February 1, 2019). "Ken Burns' 'Country Music' Documentary Gets Premiere Date, Live Concert". Rolling Stone. Retrieved September 15, 2019.
  11. ^ "Worth Watching: Steve Kroft '60 Minutes' Retrospective, Newhart & Valerie Harper Marathons, 'Live at Ryman' Concert". TV Insider. Retrieved September 15, 2019.
  12. ^ "Country Music A Film By Ken Burns". PBS.
  13. ^ Shoemaker, Allison. "Ken Burns on the origins of Country Music". TV Club. Retrieved September 16, 2019.
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  22. ^ "COUNTRY MUSIC: SEASON 1". Rotten Tomatoes.