American filmmaker Ken Burns will in 2019 release "Country Music," highlighting the history of the genre and chronicling the characters who created it. West Virginia University expert Travis Stimeling says Ken Burns’ 'Country Music' is a major testament to the important work of country musicians and to the role that country music has played in the lives of everyday people throughout the United States.
"West Virginians have been making country music from the very beginning of the genre, since the 1920s and Ken Burns' 'Country Music' features a number of our prominent artists front and center, including especially Kathy Mattea who opens the film and Charlie McCoy, the great Nashville session player who has played on recordings by everyone from Elvis Presley to Bob Dylan, Loretta Lynn and everybody in between. It's really fantastic to see West Virginia musicians celebrated front and center in a documentary film about a music that's so important to so many people here in the Mountain State."
"Country music is very important to the people of the state of West Virginia, it runs through all forms of our music making, people know about country music regardless of what kind of music they really like to listen to and what they chose to listen to. When somebody like Ken Burns comes along and spends a 16.5 hour documentary telling us the story of country music, it's a really good affirmation of the contributions people here in the Mountain State and in places all across our country have made to expressing the concerns, joys and celebrations of average people, working people, all across this great country."
"Ken Burns' Country Music is a 16 and a half hour testament to the ways country music has shaped the lives of people all throughout our country and particularly here in the Mountain State. A number of people from our state are featured in the film, including Little Jimmy Dickens, Hawkshaw Hawkins, Cathy Matteo, Charlie McCoy and it just goes to show how much country music is reflective of the life here in our state and also how much people here have contributed to it. In my own research as a country music scholar, I've found lots of points of connection between songwriters here who work in Nashville, people in Nashville who've come to West Virginia to start their careers or to build a new audience and I think it's a really fantastic opportunity for us to get to bring all of that together in this very special screening of Ken Burns' 'Country Music.'"
"Country music is an important art form, one that expresses the joys and concerns of people whose voices are often unheard, and it brings together diverse communities, including not only the white working-class, but people of all walks of life. And, as a major form of American popular music, country music is one of our leading musical exports, allowing it to be reshaped to meet the needs of diverse communities around the globe. Like jazz, country music has proven to be a powerful force in the world, and it’s fantastic to see it featured in such a significant way." —Travis Stimeling, Associate Professor of Musicology
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CONTACT: Travis Stimeling
Associate Professor of Musicology
WVU College of Creative Arts
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