Country Music | Alabama Public Television
Alabama Public Television

Country Music

This new eight-part, 16-hour film directed by Ken Burns, and produced by Burns and his long-time collaborators Dayton Duncan and Julie Dunfey, premieres Sunday, September 15 through Wednesday, September 18, and Sunday, September 22 through Wednesday, September 25 at 7:00-9:00 p.m.   The documentary, written by Duncan, who also wrote the illustrated companion book (coming from Alfred A. Knopf on September 10), chronicles country music’s early days, from southern Appalachia’s songs of struggle, heartbreak and faith to the rollicking Western swing of Texas, California’s honky-tonks and Nashville's Grand Ole Opry.” The film follows the evolution of country music over the course of the 20th century as it eventually emerges to become “America’s music.” Tune in to watch and enjoy on Alabama Public Television. 

Sunday, September 15    7:00PM   
Program 1   The Rub (Beginnings - 1933)   
See how what was first called 'hillbilly music' reaches new audiences through phonographs and radio, and launches the careers of country music's first big stars, the Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers.      

Monday, September 16  7:00PM  
Program 2   Hard Times (1933-1945
Watch as Nashville becomes the heart of the country music industry. The genre grows in popularity during the Great Depression and World War II as America falls in love with singing cowboys, Texas Swing and the Grand Ole Opry's Roy Acuff.

Tuesday, September 17  7:00PM
Program 3   The Hillbilly Shakespeare (1945-1953
See how the bluegrass sound spreads in post-war America, and meet honky-tonk star Hank Williams, whose songs of surprisingly emotional depth are derived from his troubled and tragically short life.

Wednesday, September 18  7:00PM 
Program 4   I Can't Stop Loving You (1953-1963)
Travel to Memphis, where Sun Studios artists Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley usher in the era of rockabilly. Ray Charles crosses America's racial divide by recording a country album. Patsy Cline shows off Music City's smooth new Nashville Sound.

Sunday, September 22   7:00PM   
Program 5   The Sons and Daughters of America (1964-1968)  
See how country music reflects a changing America, with Loretta Lynn speaking to women everywhere, Merle Haggard becoming 'The Poet of the Common Man' and audiences looking beyond race to embrace Charley Pride.

Monday, September 23   7:00PM
Program 6   Will The Circle Be Unbroken (1968-1972)     
Learn how country music responds to a nation divided by the Vietnam War, as Army captain turned songwriter Kris Kristofferson sets a new lyrical standard, and artists like Bob Dylan and the Byrds find a recording home in Nashville.

Tuesday, September 24   7:00PM
Program 7    Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way? (1973-1983)
Witness a vibrant era in country music, with Dolly Parton finding mainstream success; Hank Williams, Jr. and Rosanne Cash emerging from their famous fathers' shadows; and Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings launching the 'Outlaw' movement.

Wednesday, September 25   7:00PM 
Program 8   Don't Get Above Your Raisin' (1984-1996)
Learn how 'New Traditionalists' like George Strait, Randy Travis and the Judds help country music stay true to its roots. Witness both the rise of superstar Garth Brooks and the return of an aging Johnny Cash to the industry he helped create.

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