NASHVILLE, TN – June 28, 2019 – “Country Music: Live at the Ryman, A Concert Celebrating the Film by Ken Burns,” featuring many of the artists who appear in the upcoming Ken Burns documentary “Country Music,” will air 8-10 p.m. ET Sunday, Sept. 8, PBS announced.
“Country Music: Live at the Ryman” will also stream on station-branded PBS platforms, including PBS.org and PBS apps, timed to special broadcast.
The concert, which took place at Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium on March 27 was hosted by Burns and featured performances by Dierks Bentley, Rosanne Cash, Rodney Crowell, Rhiannon Giddens, Vince Gill, Kathy Mattea, Ketch Secor of Old Crow Medicine Show, Ricky Skaggs, Marty Stuart, Asleep at the Wheel, Holly Williams and Dwight Yoakam.
In addition to live performances of iconic country songs, select clips from the film were highlighted throughout the evening. The event was produced by Opry Entertainment and Florentine Films, and made possible thanks to the support from Bank of America, Burns’s corporate underwriter.
The separate eight-part, 16-hour documentary, directed by Burns, written by Dayton Duncan, and produced by Duncan, Burns and Julie Dunfey, premieres 8-10 p.m. ET each night Sept. 15-18 and Sept. 22-25. The first four episodes will stream on station-branded PBS platforms, including PBS.org and PBS apps, 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 Passport members will be able to stream the entire series for a period of six months beginning Sunday, Sept. 15.
The concert, which was shot live, explores country’s roots while also highlighting the diversity of musical styles and artists that fall under the country music label. Paying tribute to the genre’s eclectic, layered history, “Country Music: Live at the Ryman” provides viewers with a taste of western swing and bluegrass to honkytonk and cowboy music.
“Country Music” was directed by Ken Burns, written by Dayton Duncan, and produced by Duncan, Burns and Julie Dunfey. They 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 (20 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.
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, 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; directed by Ken Burns, written by Dayton Duncan, and produced by Duncan, Julie Dunfey and Burns.
About Ryman Auditorium
A National Historic Landmark, Ryman Auditorium was built as a tabernacle by Captain Thomas G. Ryman in 1892, served as the home of the Grand Ole Opry from 1943-74 and was completely renovated in 1994. The Ryman is open for tours during the day and at night offers a wide variety of entertainment performances, just as it has for over 125 years. The venue was voted the 2003, 2004, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 Pollstar Theatre of the Year and recently took home its sixth consecutive CMA Venue of the Year Award. Ryman Auditorium is owned by Ryman Hospitality Properties, Inc. (NYSE: RHP), a Nashville-based REIT that also owns and operates the Grand Ole Opry, Ole Red and 650 AM WSM. For more information, visit ryman.com.
About Opry Entertainment Group
Opry Entertainment Group is a division of Ryman Hospitality Properties, Inc. (NYSE: RHP) with an unmatched country music legacy. From the world-famous Grand Ole Opry, the historic Ryman Auditorium and legendary radio station 650 AM-WSM to exciting new ventures including Ole Red in partnership with Opry member Blake Shelton, Opry Entertainment Group’s mission is to connect audiences and artists through unforgettable experiences, set to music. The company also partners with Nashville’s beloved Bluebird Café and Wildhorse Saloon. Opry Entertainment Group continues to be one of the leading online voices in entertainment and connects fans with their favorite artists through unique content and experiential opportunities. For information on all of Opry Entertainment Group’s venues, visit www.opryentertainmentgroup.com.
About “Country Music”
“Country Music” will chronicle the history of a uniquely American art form, rising from the experiences of remarkable people in distinctive regions of our nation. From southern Appalachia’s songs of struggle, heartbreak and faith to the rollicking western swing of Texas, from California honky-tonks to Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry, we will follow the evolution of country music over the course of the 20th century, as it eventually emerged to become America’s music.
It will be directed and produced by Ken Burns; written and produced by Dayton Duncan; and produced by Julie Dunfey — Emmy-award winning creators of PBS’s most-acclaimed and most-watched documentaries for more than a quarter century, including The Civil War, Lewis & Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery, The National Parks: America’s Best Idea, The Dust Bowl, and many more.
“Country Music” will be a sweeping, multi-episode series, exploring the questions, “What is country music?” “Where did it come from?” while focusing on the biographies of the fascinating characters who created it—from the Carter family, Jimmie Rodgers and Bob Wills, to Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, Charley Pride, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Merle Haggard, Emmylou Harris, Garth Brooks and many more—as well as the times in which they lived. And like the music itself, “Country Music” will tell unforgettable stories—stories of the hardships and joys shared by everyday people.
We will trace its origins in minstrel music, ballads, hymns and the blues, and its early years, when it was called hillbilly music and played across the airwaves on radio station barn dances. We will see how Hollywood B movies instituted the fad of singing cowboys like Gene Autry and Roy Rogers, and watch how the rise of juke joints after World War II changed the musical style by bringing electric guitars and pedal steel guitars to the forefront. We will follow the rise of bluegrass music with Bill Monroe, and we will note how one of country music’s offspring — rockabilly — mutated into rock and roll in Memphis. And we’ll see how Nashville slowly became not just the mecca of country music, but “Music City USA.” All the while, we will note the constant tug of war between the desire to make country music as mainstream as possible and the periodic reflexes to bring it back to its roots.
For more information, visit kenburns.com/films/country-music/.
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Contacts for PBS:
DKC Public Relations
Contacts for Ryman Auditorium:
Essential Broadcast Media, LLC
Opry Entertainment Group
For images and additional up-to-date information on this and other PBS programs, visit PBS PressRoom at pbs.org/pressroom.