Country Music

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.

Support for the local broadcast and Country Music Day Event in Keene provided by C&S Wholesale Grocers, inc.

Funding for Country Music was 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.


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Music Row's A Team

Music Row's A Team

Music row musicians discuss their days as members of the fabled ”A Team.”

“Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town,” Written by Mel Tillis

“Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town,” Written by Mel Tillis

Mel Tillis tells the true story behind his hit song.

"He Stopped Loving Her Today:" The Story Behind the Song

The songwriters, producer, and fans discuss this classic song's genesis and significance.

Marty Stuart's Mandolin

Marty Stuart's Mandolin

Marty Stuart describes the marks and inscriptions on his mandolin and how they got there.


The Artistry of Merle Haggard

The Artistry of Merle Haggard

The late Merle Haggard discusses his songwriting and other artists discuss his impact.

“Old Dogs, Children and Watermelon Wine”

“Old Dogs, Children and Watermelon Wine”

Tom T. Hall tells the story of how he came to write his famous song.

Johnny Cash: Following the Gospel

Johnny Cash: Following the Gospel

Rosanne Cash and John Carter Cash and the Oak Ridge Boys discuss Johnny Cash's faith.

The Song Into Outer Space

The Song Into Outer Space

Interviewees pick they would send into outer space to represent country music.

Marty Stuart: Back to the Source

Marty Stuart: Back to the Source

Marty Stuart reminisces about a quiet moment he had listening to Jimmie Rodgers.

Johnny Cash: His Legacy

Johnny Cash: His Legacy

Friends and family discuss Johnny Cash's return to simple songwriting and record-making.

Les Leverett: Opry Photographer

Les Leverett: Opry Photographer

Les Leverett was the official staff photographer for The Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, TN.

Country Music: Behind the Scenes

Country Music: Behind the Scenes

Take a behind the scenes look at the making of Country Music.

The Bryants and “Rocky Top”

The Bryants and “Rocky Top”

Brenda Lee reminisces about the songwriters Felice and Boudleaux Bryant.

Mel Tillis: Learning to Talk Through Singing

Mel Tillis: Learning to Talk Through Singing

Mel Tillis talks about how he dealt with a stutter by singing.

John McEuen: Earl Scruggs’ Banjo Style

John McEuen: Earl Scruggs’ Banjo Style

John McEuen discusses Earl Scruggs' innovations on the banjo.

Don Maddox: The Most Colorful Hillbilly Band in the World

Don Maddox: The Most Colorful Hillbilly Band in the World

Don Maddox, Jean Shepard, and Marty Stuart swap stories about the Maddox Brothers and Rose

Hank Williams: The Songwriter and Performer

Hank Williams: The Songwriter and Performer

Featured artists discuss the genius and singularity of Hank Williams, Sr.

Ralph Stanley: The First Song Mother Taught Me

Ralph Stanley: The First Song Mother Taught Me

The late Ralph Stanley plays a banjo tune and describes his playing technique.

Betty Johnson: The Johnson Family Singers 1930s

Betty Johnson: The Johnson Family Singers 1930s

Betty Johnson discusses growing up in a family band of six.

The Carter Scratch, Travis Picking, Doc Watson

The Carter Scratch, Travis Picking, Doc Watson

Randy Scruggs exhibits the playing styles of Maybelle Carter, Merle Travis and Doc Watson.

“Will the Circle Be Unbroken:” Country Music’s Anthem

“Will the Circle Be Unbroken:” Country Music’s Anthem

Featured artists discuss this special song's meaning to Americans.

Johnny Cash: Poet Performer

Johnny Cash: Poet Performer

Featured artists marvel at the artistry and genius of Johnny Cash.

Elvis: The Hillbilly Cat

Elvis: The Hillbilly Cat

Featured artists remember Elvis Presley and discuss his unique role in American music.

Patsy Cline: Tough Edges, Big Heart

Patsy Cline: Tough Edges, Big Heart

Friends and admirers share memories of "the Cline."

“The Rub” (Beginnings – 1933)

“The Rub” (Beginnings – 1933)

So-called “hillbilly music” reaches new listeners and launches its first stars’ careers.

“Hard Times” (1933 – 1945)

“Hard Times” (1933 – 1945)

Nashville transforms into Music City as America falls for singing cowboys and Texas Swing.

“I Can’t Stop Loving You” (1953 – 1963)

“I Can’t Stop Loving You” (1953 – 1963)

Visit Memphis during the era of rockabilly, and see how Patsy Cline rises to stardom.

“The Hillbilly Shakespeare” (1945 – 1953)

“The Hillbilly Shakespeare” (1945 – 1953)

Meet the country stars of post-war America, including the Hillbilly Shakespeare.

"Will the Circle Be Unbroken?” (1968 – 1972)

Learn what draws artists like Bob Dylan to Nashville as the Vietnam War rages.

“The Sons and Daughters of America” (1964 – 1968)

“The Sons and Daughters of America” (1964 – 1968)

New country artists like Loretta Lynn and Charley Pride reflect a changing America.

“Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way?” (1973 – 1983)

“Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way?” (1973 – 1983)

Witness a vibrant era in country music, thanks to mainstream crossovers and a new sound.

“Don’t Get Above Your Raisin’” (1984 – 1996)

“Don’t Get Above Your Raisin’” (1984 – 1996)

Country music works to stay true to its roots as the genre skyrockets to new heights.

Working Together - Celebrating Country Music

Working Together - Celebrating Country Music

Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan sit down with NHPBS and reminisce about how they met.

Good Storytelling - Celebrating Country Music

Good Storytelling - Celebrating Country Music

Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan sit down with NHPBS and discuss the art of great storytelling.

Episode 3 Preview | “The Hillbilly Shakespeare”

Episode 3 Preview | “The Hillbilly Shakespeare”

Meet the country stars of post-war America, including the Hillbilly Shakespeare.

Episode 7 Preview |

Episode 7 Preview | "Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way?”

Witness a vibrant era in country music, thanks to mainstream crossovers and a new sound.

Episode 4 Preview | “I Can’t Stop Loving You”

Episode 4 Preview | “I Can’t Stop Loving You”

Visit Memphis during the era of rockabilly, and see how Patsy Cline rises to stardom.

Episode 2 Preview | “Hard Times”

Episode 2 Preview | “Hard Times”

Nashville transforms into Music City as America falls for singing cowboys and Texas Swing.

Episode 8 Preview |

Episode 8 Preview | "Don’t Get Above Your Raisin’”

Country music works to stay true to its roots as the genre skyrockets to new heights.

Episode 5 Preview |

Episode 5 Preview | "The Sons and Daughters of America"

New country artists like Loretta Lynn and Charley Pride reflect a changing America.

Episode 6 Preview | “Will the Circle Be Unbroken?”

Episode 6 Preview | “Will the Circle Be Unbroken?”

Learn what draws artists like Bob Dylan to Nashville as the Vietnam War rages.

Rhiannon Giddens on

Rhiannon Giddens on "Blue Yodel Number 9"

Rhiannon Giddens discusses "Blue Yodel Number 9."

Ken on My Country Song

Ken on My Country Song

Ken Burns discusses My Country Song.

Dierks Bentley on

Dierks Bentley on "Don't Close Your Eyes"

Dierks Bentley discusses "Don't Close Your Eyes"

Darius Rucker & Harold Bradley on

Darius Rucker & Harold Bradley on "Crazy"

Darius Rucker and Harold Bradley on "Crazy."

Dwight Yoakam & Marty Stuart on

Dwight Yoakam & Marty Stuart on "Mama's Hungry's Eyes"

Dwight Yoakam and Marty Stuart discuss "Mama's Hungry's Eyes"

Kathy Mattea on

Kathy Mattea on "The Chair"

"To me it's the perfect country song… It's brilliant!" — Kathy Mattea

Country Music: Live at the Ryman Concert

Country Music: Live at the Ryman Concert

Join a lineup of celebrated artists for a concert celebrating the film by Ken Burns.



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