About the Series:

Explore the history of a uniquely American art form: country music. From its deep and tangled roots in ballads, blues and hymns performed in small settings, to its worldwide popularity, learn how country music evolved over the course of the 20th century, as it eventually emerged to become America’s music. Country Music features never-before-seen footage and photographs, plus interviews with more than 80 country music artists. The eight-part 16-hour series is directed and produced by Ken Burns; written and produced by Dayton Duncan; and produced by Julie Dunfey. Learn more about the series.



Sat, Sept. 7th at 7pm
(doors open at 6pm)
Marion Cultural and Civic Center
Marion, IL


Concessions & beverages available.
Live music by Jenny Johnson.

Thu, Sept. 12th at 7pm
(doors open at 6pm)
Hoogland Center for the Arts
Springfield, IL


Concessions & beverages available.



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Episode 1: “The Rub” (Beginnings – 1933)
Sun, Sept. 15 at 7pm
(repeats TBA)
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.

Episode 2: “Hard Times” (1933 – 1945)
Mon, Sept. 16 at 7pm
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.

Episode 3: “The Hillbilly Shakespeare” (1945 – 1953) | Tue, Sept. 17 at 7pm
(repeats TBA)
See how the bluegrass sound spreads in post-war America, and meet honky-tonk star Hank Williams, whose songs of surprising emotional depth are derived from his troubled and tragically short life.

Episode 4: “I Can’t Stop Loving You” (1953 – 1963) | Wed, Sept. 18 at 7pm
(repeats TBA)
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.

Country Music

 Country Music

Episode 5: “The Sons and Daughters of America” (1964 – 1968) | Sun, Sept. 22 at 7pm
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.

Episode 6: “Will the Circle Be Unbroken?” (1968 – 1972) | Mon, Sept. 23 at 7pm
(repeats TBA)
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.

Episode 7: “Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way?” (1973 – 1983) | Tue, Sept. 24 at 7pm
(repeats TBA)
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.

Episode 8: “Don’t Get Above Your Raisin’” (1984 – 1996) | Wed, Sept. 25 at 7pm
(repeats TBA)
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.

County Music: A Ken Burns Film on Spotify

Enjoy timeless country classics from the forthcoming PBS documentary. Favorites from Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn + more!


Country Music is a production of Florentine Films and WETA Washington, DC, and is directed by Ken Burns. 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, Mindy's Hope Foundation, the Segal Family Foundation, Michelle Smith. Major funding was provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and PBS.