Catch a sneak peek of Ken Burns’ upcoming “Country Music” documentary Tuesday at CAC

MORGANTOWN — Ken Burns’ forthcoming project — “Country Music: A Film by Ken Burns” — covers familiar ground for the famed documentary filmmaker, which he said is perhaps why it’s taken him to this point in his career to devote himself to a subject so sewn into the fabric of his, and he’ll argue, most Americans’ lives.
“It may just be a deeply human thing about a new relationship,” he said. “This is something like when you’ve always known a person. … Sometimes, you’d rather share a process of discovery.”
Prior to “Country Music,” Burns tackled everything from “The Civil War,” “Baseball” and “Jazz,” to “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea,” “Prohibition,” “The Roosevelts” and, most recently, “The Vietnam War.” His efforts have earned him two Academy Award nominations, as well as several Emmys.
With “Country Music,” he explores a genre that he said deals with elemental human emotions, one of which he cites when discussing why now is as good a time as any to delve into the topic.
“It’s always the right time to fall in love,” he said, and like any creator steeped in his subject matter, Burns automatically likens the thought to a song Merle Haggard wrote for his wife, while sitting with her in LAX  — “Today I Started Loving You Again.”
“It’s this unbelievable song about waking up to the way things disintegrate and appreciating what you have,” he said.
In the roughly eight years it has taken Burns and long-time collaborators Dayton Duncan and Julie Dunfey to make “Country Music,” they’ve sifted through many such classic songs and the stories behind them.
In September, the eight-part, 16-hour documentary will premiere on PBS stations. Leading up to the debut, makers are touring the country, showing select excerpts. And at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday Duncan, the film’s writer and producer, and fellow producer Dunfey will host a screening at the WVU Creative Arts Center featuring clips related to West Virginia. Mountain State artists Kathy Mattea and Charlie McCoy, both of whom are featured in the documentary, will perform live with the Mountain Stage Band. Earlier in the day, Reed College of Media students will learn what it takes to produce a major documentary.

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