Country Music: Hard Times (1933-1945)

Country Music: Hard Times (1933-1945)

Mon, 09/16/2019 - 8:00pm - 10:00pm

Roy Acuff (center) on the Grand Ole Opry, c.1940

Credit: Courtesy of Grand Ole Opry Archives

Watch as Nashville becomes the heart of the country music industry.

Ken Burns' Country Music continues with episode two, Hard Times (1933-1945), airing Monday, September 16 at 8 p.m. and again at 10 p.m. on WXXI-TV. 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.

Country Music, written by Dayton Duncan, who also wrote the illustrated companion book (coming from Alfred A. Knopf on September 10), chronicles the highs and lows of 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.” 

Country Music explores crucial questions –– “What is country music?” and “Where did it come from?”–– while focusing on the biographies of the fascinating trailblazers who created and shaped it — 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 in which they lived. Much like the music itself, the film tells unforgettable stories of hardships and joys shared by everyday people. 

Directed by Ken Burns, and produced by Burns and his long-time collaborators Dayton Duncan and Julie Dunfey, Country Music premieres Sunday, September 15, 2019 through Wednesday, September 18, and Sunday, September 22 through Wednesday, September 25 at 8:00-10:00 p.m. on WXXI-TV

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