Opry Entertainment, a division of Ryman Hospitality Properties, and Belmont University, will host a viewing party in celebration of Country Music, a new eight-part, 16-hour documentary by famed filmmaker Ken Burns beginning at 5 p.m. on Sunday, September 15 at the Grand Ole Opry House. In addition to a screening of part one of the documentary, the evening includes a pre-event reception and program, as well as a special 30-minute performance from Grand Ole Opry members, Old Crow Medicine Show.
Belmont University President Dr. Bob Fisher said, “Ken Burns is a master storyteller who brings history to life in powerful ways. By selecting ‘Country Music’ as his most recent endeavor, he brings renewed attention on the art form and the region that employs and supports so many Belmont alumni. We are honored to help underwrite this film and to sponsor a Nashville premiere at the Grand Ole Opry, which helped birth this amazing genre.”
Tickets for this special event are offered at $75 and go on sale Friday, August 23 at 10 a.m. CT via opry.com. Ticket proceeds will benefit Nashville’s local public television station, NPT. Tickets include entry into the Opry’s newly installed immersive Circle Room theater experience, the Old Crow performance, a one-year subscription to PBS Passport (a $60 value) and a general admission seat in the Opry House to view the two-hour first episode. The first 500 people entering the Opry House will receive a copy of Old Crow Medicine Show’s latest album, “Live at the Ryman.” Participating partners in the event also include Tennessee State Tourism, CMA, Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp., Music City Music Council and WPLN (Nashville Public Radio).
Country Music premieres on PBS Sunday, September 15 and airs nightly through Wednesday, September 18 and again on Sunday, September 22 through Wednesday, September 25 from 7-9 p.m. CT each night. The episodes will stream on station-branded PBS platforms for a limited time. PBS Passport members will be able to stream the entire series for a period of six months beginning Sunday, September 15.
The film follows the evolution of country music and its players over the course of the twentieth century, as it eventually emerged to become America’s music, focusing on artists such as Garth Brooks, the Carter family, Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Hank Williams, and many more. Directed and produced by Ken Burns; written and produced by Dayton Duncan; and produced by Julie Dunfey—Emmy-award winning creators of PBS’s most-acclaimed and most-watched documentaries for more than a quarter century, including The Civil War, Lewis & Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery, The National Parks: America’s Best Idea, and many more.
“As with so many of their films, Ken and Dayton guide us on a journey through history that educates and entertains, providing an intimate look into the creative lives of those women and men who came together to develop an authentic American art form,” said Perry Simon, PBS chief programming executive and general manager, general audience programming. Much like the music itself, the film tells unforgettable stories of hardships and joys shared by everyday people.
Belmont University, a sponsor of the viewing party, also served as an underwriter for a portion of the production and distribution costs for the anticipated 16-hour series. The only University or college to partner with Florentine Films as a sponsor on this project, the pairing makes good sense with nearly a third of Belmont students currently studying music or the music/entertainment industry.