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Country Music

Ken Burns presents a comprehensive look at the history of a uniquely American art form: country music. From its deep and tangled roots in ballads, blues and hymns, to its worldwide popularity, learn how country music evolved over the course of the twentieth century.

Local Connections

Learn about some of the country music connections to the Greater Washington community.

After achieving his dream of becoming a cardiologist, Dr. Cleveland Francis stepped away from medicine to chase a second career as a pioneering African American country music artist in Nashville. (Credit: Courtesy of Cleve Francis)

Country Music in Washington Videos

WETA spotlights the national capital area’s rich history related to country and bluegrass music with short features about important people and places.

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The height of John Denver's fame came after his songwriting collaboration with D.C.-based musicians Bill Danoff and Taffy Nivert on "Take Me Home, Country Roads." The song rose to No. 2 on the Billboard "Hot 100" chart in 1971. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Country Music in Washington Timeline

Explore a timeline of the major events and personalities that made the Washington, D.C., area an unlikely epicenter for the development of country music.

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Credit: Courtesy of Les Leverett photograph, Grand Ole Opry Archives  Photo Caption: Patsy Cline performing in 1961.

Local Country Music Stories

Read articles on Boundary Stones covering topics from Patsy Cline's Washington-area connections to Johnny Cash's controversial White House performance for Richard Nixon.

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“Don’t Get Above Your Raisin’” (1984 – 1996)

Country music works to stay true to its roots as the genre skyrockets to new heights.
“Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way?” (1973 – 1983)

WETA Passport“Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way?” (1973 – 1983)

Witness a vibrant era in country music, thanks to mainstream crossovers and a new sound.

"Will the Circle Be Unbroken?” (1968 – 1972)

WETA Passport"Will the Circle Be Unbroken?” (1968 – 1972)

Learn what draws artists like Bob Dylan to Nashville as the Vietnam War rages.

“The Sons and Daughters of America” (1964 – 1968)

WETA Passport“The Sons and Daughters of America” (1964 – 1968)

New country artists like Loretta Lynn and Charley Pride reflect a changing America.

“The Hillbilly Shakespeare” (1945 – 1953)

WETA Passport“The Hillbilly Shakespeare” (1945 – 1953)

Meet the country stars of post-war America, including the Hillbilly Shakespeare.

“Hard Times” (1933 – 1945)

WETA Passport“Hard Times” (1933 – 1945)

Nashville transforms into Music City as America falls for singing cowboys and Texas Swing.

“The Rub” (Beginnings – 1933)

WETA Passport“The Rub” (Beginnings – 1933)

So-called “hillbilly music” reaches new listeners and launches its first stars’ careers.

Ken Burns and WETA

Ken Burns

For more than 30 years, WETA has proudly partnered with Ken Burns to bring landmark documentaries to the nation via public television.

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Choose a Country Music Thank You Gift When You Donate to WETA

Exclusive Country Music Gifts

Can't get enough of Ken Burns's Country Music? Treat yourself to an exclusive Country Music thank-you gift right now including all eight episodes of Country Music on DVD, the program's soundtrack and the accompanying book!

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