Filmmaker Ken Burns in the Valley promoting latest documentary 'Country Music'

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Well-known American filmmaker Ken Burns is in the Valley this week as part of a 30-city national tour to promote his latest documentary called "Country Music."

Burns, along with his co-creators Dayton Duncan and Julie Dunfey have spent the last eight years interviewing more than 100 country music stars.

After recording 1,000 hours worth of footage, the three have put together the story of Country Music in America.

"You can dance to it, you can make love to it, you can play it at a funeral. It has something in it for everybody," said Burns.

It's a story the creators believe will resonate with everyone not just country music fans. Burns says each song describes some truth about the human experience.

"There's nobody in the world that hasn't fallen in love, there's nobody that hasn't fallen out of love," said Burns. "There's nobody that hasn't been lonely at some point, and thee's a country music song for all those emotions. And as Charlie Pride says in our film, 'it might make you cry but you'll feel better for doing it.'"

From Charlie Pride to Willie Nelson to Garth Brooks and Dolly Parton each songwriter has a unique voice to add to the documentary.

When Merle Haggard's parents settled in the Valley during the Great Depression, another country music story was birthed.

Ken Burns says it's Haggard's songs of struggle that have made him such an important figure in country music history.

He and his team are grateful they were able to record Merle Haggard before his death three years ago.

"Merle Haggard is like God. I mean, he is one of the greatest. He's been called the poet of the common man," said Burns.

The sixteen-hour film chronicles country music from its roots in hymns and blues in the early years in the 1920s through the period of rock and roll and finally into the 1990s. You watch the "Country Music" documentary beginning on September 15th on Valley PBS.
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