Award-winning documentarian Ken Burns, who looked at the history of jazz in 2001, will focus on country music for his next PBS series. The eight-part, 16-hour Country Music will debut September 15. From The LA Times:

“It seemed that this could be a frivolous agenda,” Burns, 65, said by phone earlier this week from his Florentine Films office in Walpole, N.H., where he and his team were putting the finishing touches on “Country Music,” an eight-part, 16½-hour series scheduled to premiere Sept. 15 on PBS.

“It’s not. It’s as elemental, and in fact, there were more tears shed by warm bodies in the editing room for this than for ‘Vietnam.’”

The project promises to offer a deep exploration into the genre. Burns theorizes that through country music, we can get a better understanding of the American experience.

“All these elemental things — birth, death, falling in love, falling out of love, seeking redemption and erring and all the things human flesh is heir to — that’s the stuff country music is about,” said Burns, who collaborated on the project with writer-producer Dayton Duncan, producer Julie Dunfey

“What we’ve done over the last eight years is to tear away the undergrowth and look at this magnificent stuff as a new way of focusing on America, seeing race, seeing people who think their stories aren’t being told. It’s all a good story to tell and a good story to tell now.”

Among the artists covered in Country Music will be The Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers, Bill Monroe and Bob Wills, Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Loretta Lynn, Charley Pride, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, Garth Brooks, and more. You can watch a couple clips, featuring Marty Stuart talking about the Grand Ole Opry, and Rosanne Cash talks about her father, Johnny Cash, and his hit "Walk the Line," below.

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