Ken Burns, PBS Partner With Belmont University For ‘Country Music’ Educational Initiative

(L-R): Marty Dickens, chairman of Belmont’s Board of Trustees; Ken Burns, director/producer of “Country Music”; Julie Dunfey, producer of “Country Music”; Dr. Bob Fisher, president of Belmont University; and Dayton Duncan, writer/producer of “Country Music”

Acclaimed Country Music director Ken Burns joined Belmont University President Dr. Bob Fisher yesterday (May 29) to unveil two Martin D-28 Guitars signed by 76 of the 101 country music artists interviewed for the highly anticipated eight-part, 16-hour film scheduled to premiere on PBS stations on September 15.

Among the signatures on the guitars, which will be on display in Belmont’s Gallery of Iconic Guitars, are: Merle Haggard, Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, Vince Gill, Reba McEntire, Kris Kristofferson, Brenda Lee, Loretta Lynn, Garth Brooks and others. Thirty-seven of those who signed the guitars are Country Music Hall of Fame members and 15 have since passed away.

In addition, Burns announced a collection of educational resources prepared by PBS and the Belmont faculty that will reach middle and high school students across the country. The materials, including video and lesson plans drawn from the research that went into the film, will explore American history through country music, illustrating the extent to which this distinctly American art form reflects the times in which it evolved. Materials will cover the musical style, the genre’s history, and the workings of the music industry. Students and teachers will be able to access the collection for free on PBS Learning Media which reaches one million users each month throughout the school year.

“As with all of our films, we work with partners to help teachers and other educators share this history with students,” said Burns. “The history of country music provides an engaging, thoughtful and often soulful way to help students understand unique parts of the American story. Perhaps most importantly, from this unique art form, which was created by so-called ordinary Americans often struggling with extraordinary hardship, we see how the ‘rub’ of American cultures gives birth to country – and really gives birth to who we are as a people.”

“Belmont’s lengthy history as a magnet for young people interested in studying music, songwriting, performance, motion pictures and the entertainment industry made our sponsorship of Country Music a perfect pairing,” added Belmont President Dr. Bob Fisher. “We are honored to now be able to showcase the signed guitars that serve as such a unique and visible emblem of this project, but we’re even more excited to demonstrate the talents of our faculty to high school and middle school students across the country. These men and women are experts in their fields and can lend great insights to country music’s role within, and impact on, American history.”


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Hollabaugh, a staff writer at MusicRow magazine, has written for publications including American Profile, CMA Close Up, Nashville Arts And Entertainment, The Boot and Country Weekly. She has a Broadcast Journalism and Speech Communication degree from Texas Christian University, (go Horned Frogs), and welcomes your feedback or story ideas at [email protected]

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