About the Film

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 twentieth century. The series, directed by Ken Burns, features never-before-seen footage and photographs, plus interviews with more than 80 country music artists. No one has told the story this way before.

Visit PBS.org to Learn More

"Country Music" Episodes

neon guitar
  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.
  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.
  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 surprising emotional depth are derived from his troubled and tragically short life.
  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.
  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.
  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.
  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.
  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.

How To Watch


The first four episodes of the series will be available for free to everyone on the night of the premiere episode, Sept. 15. at 7 p.m.

The final four episodes of the series will be available for free to everyone on Sun., Sept. 25, at 7 p.m.

All episodes will be available to watch online via Watch.myarkansaspbs.org on Sept. 15. at 7 p.m. to Arkansas PBS Foundation members through the Arkansas PBS Passport member benefit.

Each episode will stream for free for a period of three weeks. After which access will continue to be available to members of the Arkansas PBS Foundation for a period of six months from the Sept. 15, 2019 premiere date.

The Broadcast

The eight part series will be air over a consecutive two-week period, Sundays through Wednesdays. Episodes 1-6, will air 7-9 p.m. and will repeat 9:30-11:30 p.m. immediately following; episode 7 is 7-9:30 p.m. and 12:30 a.m.; episode 8 is 7-9 p.m. and 9:30-11:30 p.m. REPEATS: 9/22 starting at 11 a.m. repeating episodes 1-4 leading into episode 5 (second week) at 7 p.m.

"Talkin' Country"

Each night at 9 p.m. following the broadcast and on 9/24 airs at 9:30 p.m.

Exploring Arkansas

Catch country music special editions of Exploring Arkansas airing: Wed., Sept. 11 at 6:30 p.m.; Fri., Sept. 20 at 10:30 p.m.; and Wed., Sept. 25, at 6 :30 p.m.

More Special Programming

Also, be sure to watch more special programming leading up to each new episode.

  • "PBS Previews: Country Music," Sun., Sept. 15, at 12:30 p.m.
  • "The Kate: Jj Grey & Mofro," Sun., Sept. 15, at 1 p.m.
  • "Classic Gospel: The Gospel Music of Johnny Cash," Sun., Sept. 15, at 2 p.m.
  • "Classic Gospel: Johnny Cash Music Festival," Sun., Sept. 15, at 3 p.m.
  • "Music Row: Nashville's Most Famous Neighborhood," Sun., Sept. 15, at 4 p.m.
  • "Workin' Man Blues," Sun., Sept. 15, at 5 p.m.
  • "Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison," Sun., Sept. 15, at 6 p.m.
  • "Arkansas PBS Presents:On the Front Row with Pam Tillis" special Mon., Sept. 16, at 6:30 p.m.
  • "Arkansas PBS Presents:On the Front Row with Salty Dogs" special Tues., Sept. 17, at 6:30 p.m.
  • "Arkansas PBS Presents:On the Front Row with Bob Wills & The Texas Playboys" special Wed., Sept. 18, at 6:30 p.m.
  • "Arkansas PBS Presents:On the Front Row with Still on the Hill" special Thur., Sept. 19, at 6:30 p.m.
  • "Austin City Limits: Willie Nelson," Thur., Sept. 19, at 7 p.m.
  • "American Masters: Charley Pride," Thur., Sept. 19, at 8 p.m.
  • "Opry Salute to Ray Charles," Thur., Sept. 19, at 9 p.m.
  • "Front Row with Hannah Blaylock and Lost & Found" special Mon., Sept. 23, at 6:30 p.m.

"Country Music" Events

Preview Screening
Pope County Library
Russellville, AR
Sat., Sept. 14, at 7 p.m.

Preview Screening
Forum Theater, ASU
Jonesboro, AR
Wed., Sept. 18, at 7:30 p.m.

Preview Screening
UA Rich Mountain
Mena, AR
Mon., Sept. 23, at 10:30 a.m.

Preview Screening
Laman Library
North Little Rock, AR
Sat., Sept. 28, at 1:30 p.m.

"Preview Screening
Laman Library
North Little Rock, AR
Sat., Oct. 5, at 1:30 p.m.

Preview Screening
Laman Library
North Little Rock, AR
Sat., Oct. 12, at 1:30 p.m.

Talkin country

Arkansas PBS's 30-minute local follow-up program will feature discussions on Arkansas's rich country music heritage. Each night following the documentary episode, the program will not only discuss the series, but also bring in voices connected to Arkansas's country music roots to share stories and analysis.

Join Arkansas's own legendary country music radio host Bob Robbins along with special guests Charles Haymes, a veteran country music journalist and historian and chief engineer at Raney Recording Studio, and others beginning Sunday, Sept. 15, at 9 p.m.

Bob Robbins
of 105.1 The Wolf

Charles Haymes
Veteran Country Music
Journalist and Historian

Jon Raney
Chief Engineer
Raney Recording Studio

Guests for "Talkin' Country" will include:

  • Episode one – Mark Jones, son of Grandpa and Ramona Jones of "Hee Haw," and Dave Smith, host of Ozark Highlands Radio.
  • Episode two – Bob Brumley, president of Albert E. Brumley and Sons Music, Mark Jones and Dave Smith.
  • Episode three – Songwriter Charley Sandage and acoustic musician Tim Crouch, fiddle player for Dolly Parton, Alan Jackson and others.
  • Episode four – Retired U.S. Navy Capt. Roy Cash, songwriter and nephew of Johnny Cash; Bobby Crafford, drummer and manager of Sonny Burgess and the Legendary Pacers; and Lee Anthony, former studio owner and record producer.
  • Episode five – Country music artist Barbara Fairchild, best known for her 1973 hit "The Teddy Bear Song," and Roy Cash.
  • Episode six – Flap Jones, host of "Not Necessarily Nashville" on KUAR FM 89.1, and songwriter and musician Brad Williams of The Salty Dogs.
  • Episode seven – Nathan Hunnicutt, president of the Arkansas Country Music Awards, Flap Jones and Barbara Fairchild.
  • Episode eight – Professional guitarist Charlie White, guitarist for Wynonna Judd, and Preston Palmer, musician and owner of Palmer Music.

Country Fried

Bringing You the Best Country Music Conversations

This podcast miniseries, hosted by Arkansas singer-songwriter Ryan Harmon, features conversations with country music icons and Arkansas favorites like Country Music Hall of Fame inductee Charlie Daniels, Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter and producer Shawn Camp, Marty Raybon of Shenandoah and more.

Each episode takes listeners on a journey through the guest's career, as they share stories and philosophies about the music business, while also aiming to answer the question – What does country music mean to you?

Learn More

"Arkansongs" is an award-winning radio program produced for more than 20 years. Each week, award-winning journalist and author Stephen Koch explores the people, places and music that have elevated Arkansas to one of the most important states in creating the American musical vernacular, which has influenced music worldwide. Listen live or explore the archives at arkansongs.org.

Tune in to special programming for "Country Music" during September:

  • Week of Sept. 1: "The Armstrong Twins" episode
  • Week of Sept. 8: "Skeets MacDonald" episode
  • Week of Sept. 15: "Floyd Cramer" episode
  • Week of Sept. 22: "Toby Keith in Arkansas” episode


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.

Major funding was provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and PBS.

  • The Bank of America logo
  • The Belmont University logo
  • The Made in Tennessee logo
  • The Nashville and Davidson County logo
  • The Better Angels Society logo
  • The Corporation for Public Broadcasting logo
  • The PBS logo