A new PBS documentary series focusing on country music will feature the Bristol Sessions, and a road show promoting it will kick off in Bristol.
The documentary, called “Country Music,” was directed and produced by renowned filmmaker Ken Burns, according to a newsletter from the Birthplace of Country Music Museum. It will consist of eight two-hour episodes and air on PBS in September.
According to Ken Burns’ official website, the documentary will chronicle the history of a uniquely American art form. The series will follow the evolution of country music from southern Appalachia’s songs of struggle to the western swing of Texas and beyond.
“‘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,” Burns’ website said. “And like the music itself, ‘Country Music’ will tell unforgettable stories—stories of the hardships and joys shared by everyday people.”
The Bristol Sessions will be featured in the first episode of the documentary.
During two weeks in 1927, a group of singers gathered together in Bristol, Tenn., to record with music producer Ralph Peer. Peer worked with the Victor Talking Machine Co. and had listed ads in the newspaper looking for “hillbilly music” singers.
A number of performers showed up, including the Carter Family, Ernest Stoneman and Jimmie Rodgers. Those performances laid the ground work for much of the country music that followed. In 1998, Congress passed a resolution recognizing Bristol as the birthplace of country music.
Florentine Films and PBS will start a tour in March to promote the documentary. The road show will start in Bristol.
“There is no better place to start a promotional tour for a documentary called ‘Country Music’ than coming home to Bristol, the birthplace of country music,” the museum said in a newsletter. “We will keep you informed of details and special events as they become finalized and hope you will join us on this new and exciting journey.”