Music documentary

Ken Burns’ new country music documentary explores the history of the genre

In his new documentary, filmmaker Ken Burns delves deeply into the origins, history and colorful personalities of country music. Airing September 15 on PBS, the eight-part film Country music is a joyous celebration of a uniquely American kind.

Burns takes a close look at the evolution of country music through the work of artists like the Carter Family and Hank Williams. “At the heart of every great country music song is a story,” he says. “As songwriter Harlan Howard said, ‘That’s three chords and the truth.'”

Country artist Rhiannon Giddens also appears in Ken Burns’ new documentary, released September 15.

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The documentary also explores the origin of those classic country music sounds that are so familiar to us today. The genre draws inspiration from other cultures, borrowing sounds from Irish, Scottish and African music. Musician Rhiannon Giddens, who is interviewed in the film, told Woman’s Day: “It’s not as easy as saying the European violin meets the African banjo. It’s true to a point, but this is actually where these people interacted with each other to create this new American idiom which contains heavy elements of everything. “

Another focal point of the film: the women who gave the country their own brand of emotional resonance, like Patsy Cline, with her painfully adorable voice,
and the beloved icon Dolly Parton. “Whether it’s the brotherhood that crosses the generations or the topics covered by the songs, women and their stories have always been an essential part of country music,” says Burns.

The film also reminds us of the country’s unique ability to bring people together, whether at the first barn balls or the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. “People connect through music faster than anything else,” Giddens shared. “Someone hums a tune, the other person hums a tune, and you’re in it.”

While the documentary won’t premiere until September 15, the soundtrack – which features music from artists featured in the film, including Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette and Willie Nelson – hits stores on Friday August 30. With over 80 songs written and performed by favorite country legends of the United States, the five-disc box set is a great way to prepare for the long-awaited film.

You can also enjoy a collection of 48 songs and interviews with Jack White, Dolly Parton and Dwight Yoakam on Ken Burns Country Music Enhanced Playlist Experience on Spotify.

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