NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Country Music has deep roots in the United States far beyond what is produced today in Nashville, and from the beginning of the genre until now, "Country Music" by Ken Burns on PBS takes a deep dive into the business that put Music City on the map.
When it comes to Country Music in Nashville, Belmont University has a great history of their own, which is why the school decided to sponsor the documentary that aired its first episode Sunday night.
"Sarah Ophelia Cannon, Minnie Pearl, went to school here, and so did Brad Paisley, Trisha Yearwood and Devin Dawson and Josh Turner," Belmont University president Dr. Bob Fisher said, and when he was presented with the information behind the documentary, he knew the University would want to be involved. "I think it's a great mix of entertainment and education."
Beyond the sponsorship of the film, the university decided to work with PBS to help support others through the film and education.
Take Sarah Blomeley for example, she teaches rhetoric at Belmont, which can focus on older texts from people like Plato and Aristotle, but can also focus on more modern writings.
"Asking students to read or to listen to "I'm so Lonesome I could Cry" or "Coalminer's Daughter" to me is no different than asking them to read Shakespeare or Emerson," Blomeley said, adding that the Country Music documentary provides material she can use in the classroom. "A lot of the focus in the documentary is just on the songs themselves and on the lyrics."
And Blomeley isn't alone. Numerous professors at Belmont are using parts of the Ken Burns film and bringing it into the classroom to add to their curriculum.
"I'm probably going to show some clips tomorrow in my class," Blomeley said on Monday.
In partnership with PBS, Belmont professors and faculty have created lessons that teachers and other educators across the country can use to share a unique perspective on history with students through PBS Learning Media, which will not just tell the story of Country Music, but tell part of the history of Belmont and Nashville as a whole.
For those who missed the first episodes that aired on PBS, they have posted the episodes and extra clips on their website.
In total, the Country Music documentary will be 16-hours long with interviews both with current artists as well as artists who have passed away since the interview was shot.