On September 15, master storytellers Ken Burns, Dayton Duncan and Julie Dunfey’s new eight-part documentary, Country Music, will debut on PBS. The much-awaited series chronicles the evolution of country music and explores the question most asked about the genre, especially in today’s world, “What is country music?”
The Emmy-winning trio focuses on the history of this uniquely American art form, shining a light on both those who pioneered country music and those packing stadiums today. 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 others, unforgettable stories of hardship and joy are revealed throughout the series. One episode includes an in-depth interview with former BMI President and CEO Del Bryant, who shares the story of his legendary parents, songwriting team Boudleaux and Felice Bryant. Among other iconic songs, the Bryants wrote “Rocky Top,” “All I Have to Do Is Dream,” “Bye Bye Love” and “Wake Up Little Susie.” Their contributions, along with many other BMI affiliates including Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, Dolly Parton and Merle Haggard, to name just a few, changed the course of music history with their words and guitars.
The docu series also features the rise of bluegrass music with BMI songwriter Bill Monroe, and details how one of country music’s offshoots—rockabilly—transformed into rock and roll in Memphis. It also explains how Nashville became the center for country music, and its journey beyond to become “Music City USA.”
BMI congratulates Ken Burns and his team for so expertly telling the story of country music in America.