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A-State to Host Watch Party for “Country Music” Documentary Johnny Cash Episode


JONESBORO – Arkansas State University is pleased to host an official watch party for an episode of acclaimed filmmaker Ken Burns’ documentary “Country Music,” Wednesday, Sept. 18, at 7:30 p.m., inside the Forum Theatre, 115 E. Monroe, in Jonesboro. The evening is free and open to the public.

The episode will focus on singer/songwriter Johnny Cash and his upbringing in Dyess.  Sponsors for this event include Arkansas Educational Television Network (AETN), KASU 91.9 FM, the Foundation of Arts, the Johnny Cash Boyhood Home and the Downtown Jonesboro Association. 

Prior to the screening, the Vikki McGee Band will be performing at Rotary Centennial Plaza (just outside the Forum), beginning at 6 p.m.

“Country Music,” an eight-part, 16-hour documentary film series directed by Burns and produced by Burns and his long-time collaborators Dayton Duncan and Julie Dunfey, will premiere on AETN, Sunday, Sept. 15, at 7 p.m.

Fellow producer Pam Baucom, who researched the life of Cash will be a featured presenter at the Johnny Cash Heritage Festival, Friday, Oct. 18, to share behind-the-scene stories about the process of putting the massive project together.

The film follows the evolution of country music over the course of the 20th century as it eventually emerges to become “America’s music.” The first four episodes will air Sunday, Sept. 15 through Wednesday, Sept. 18, and the final four episodes will air Sunday, Sept. 22, through Wednesday, Sept. 25, at 7 each night. Immediately following each episode, AETN will air the local series “Talkin’ Country.”

“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.

Duncan, Burns and Dunfey spent eight years researching and producing the film, conducting interviews with more than 100 people, including 40 members of the Country Music Hall of Fame (17 of those interviewed have since passed on).

Among those storytellers are historian Bill Malone and a wide range of country artists such as Marty Stuart, Rosanne Cash, Vince Gill, Reba McEntire, Merle Haggard, Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, Dwight Yoakam, Emmylou Harris, Kris Kristofferson and Naomi and Wynonna Judd, as well as studio musicians, record producers and others. The film uses more than 3,200 photographs and over two hours of archival footage, including rare and never-before-seen photos and footage of Jimmie Rodgers, Johnny Cash and others.