WTTW celebrates Ken Burns’ ‘Country Music’

Hank Williams with band performing on WSM radio's "Grand Ole Opry." Nashville, Tennessee, 1951

Hank Williams with band performing on WSM radio’s “Grand Ole Opry.” Nashville, Tennessee, 1951

Channel 11
will deliver
the eight-part
series about the
uniquely American
art form on TV
and online


WTTW Ch. 11 will begin airing Ken Burns’ new 16-hour documentary, Country Music next week.

Directed by Burns — along with writer and co-producer Dayton Duncan and producer Julie Dunfrey — the eight-part series explores the stories, people, songs, and places that have defined country music, an American genre rooted in ballads, blues, and hymns that evolved over the course of the twentieth century.

Venues, events, and trailblazers like Johnny Cash, Hank Williams Sr. and Dolly Parton enhance the story of the art form’s evolution featured in Country Music.



The storytellers
Country Music features interviews with more than 100 people, including 40 members of the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Among the storytellers are historian Bill Malone, 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 series also delves into Chicago’s own often-forgotten country music heritage through the story of its popular radio program WLS Barn Dance, later renamed National Barn Dance.

Running every Saturday night for two separate two-hour shows from 1924 until 1968, it featured some of the country’s biggest names, including Bob Atcher (who later became the Mayor of Schaumburg), Pat Buttram, Gene Autry, The Hoosier Hotshots, Rex Allen, and many others.

“We are dedicated to providing our audiences with the highest quality content while making the arts accessible to everyone,” said Lisa Tipton, head of programming and pledge for WTTW. “This series, and our new Country Music website, does both.”

Country Music website
Audiences can also visit WTTW’s newly created website, wttw.com/countrymusic, for related stories, a photo gallery, an interactive episode guide, video, and other web extras, plus a place to watch the series.

Additionally, WTTW will host a drawing for a trip for two to Nashville, a country music getaway that will include two tickets to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

“We discovered that country music isn’t — and never was — one type of music,” says co-producer Dayton Duncan. “What unites them all is the way the music connects personal stories and elemental experiences with universal themes that every person can relate to.”

Live concert kick-off
Country Music Kicked off with a live concert hosted by Burns at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, featuring performances by popular artists like Dierks Bentley, Rosanne Cash, Rhiannon Giddens, Vince Gill, Kathy Mattea, Marty Stuart, Dwight Yoakam and more, as well as exclusive footage and highlights from the series.

WTTW will rebroadcast Country Music: Live at the Ryman, A Concert Celebrating the Film by Ken Burns on Tuesday, September 10, at 12:30 a.m. For info, click here.

Country Music on WTTW
Sunday, September 15, 7:00 p.m.
Monday-Wednesday, September 16-18, 8 p.m.
Sunday, 22, 7:00 p.m.
Monday-Wednesday, September 23-25, 8:00 p.m.

About WTTW
WTTW is the PBS member station in Chicago, committed to creating and presenting unique media content across several distinct television and digital channels . Recognized for award-winning journalism and local productions such as Chicago Tonight, Chicago River Tour, Check, Please!, digital-first seriesUrban Nature and Foodphiles and national productions 10 That Changed America and Nature Cat, WTTW presents the very best in public affairs, arts and culture, nature and science, history and documentary, and children’s public media content.

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