Country Music, a documentary series by director and producer Ken Burns, will bow on DVD, Blu-ray and digital Sept. 17 from PBS Distribution coinciding with its national broadcast on PBS.
In the series, Burns chronicles the history of the uniquely American art form, country music. Starting from its early days in the 1920s and following it through the mid-1990s, Burns takes viewers on a journey chronicling “America’s music” in 16 hours on eight discs.
The series focuses on the personal stories of the characters who created and shaped the genre — from the Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers, Bill Monroe and Bob Wills to Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Loretta Lynn, Charley Pride, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, Garth Brooks and many more — as well as the times and places in which they lived. Much like the music itself, the film tells stories of hardships and joys shared by everyday people. Country Music uncovers the roots of the music, including ballads, minstrel music, hymns and the blues and its early years in the 1920s when it was first recorded and called “hillbilly music.” It then shows how the music sprouted many new branches during the 20th century: Western swing and singing cowboys, bluegrass and honky tonk, rockabilly and the “outlaws,” the smooth Nashville Sound and harder-edged Bakersfield Sound, and many others — showing that country music never was just one style but a broad American mixture that became a major cultural force.
The DVD and Blu-ray include more than three hours of extra bonus footage that will not be airing, including a behind-the-scenes, making-of featurette and additional material gleaned from hours of interviews.