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Ronnie Agnew

This has been a big deal for us. For most of 2019, we’ve waited with anticipation for the September broadcast of Ken Burns’ latest documentary – Country Music. This time, Burns hit close to home. He and his team spent 10 years working on a documentary on the history of country music that just happens to be terrific.

In Mississippi, we feel that country music is our music, just as much as blues, gospel and bluegrass. The team at MPB was heartened to learn back in January that Mississippi would be the second state chosen for screenings of the documentary. So we loaded up the crew this past spring and traveled to Philadelphia, Miss., where Marty Stuart and The Fabulous Superlatives treated the audience to a show at the historic Ellis Theater before we showed a 45-minute version of the documentary. The next day, we made the short trip to Meridian, where Mary and Hartley Peavey graciously opened up their headquarters for a second screening.

That’s why I say this is a big deal because we aren’t finished yet. On Sept. 11, we will hold a third screening, this time at the Two Mississippi Museums in Jackson. If you are one of the lucky few who already registered for the free event, your seat is secure. If you haven't registered, unfortunately there's no more space at this time. Please stay tuned for other special MPB events to attend in the future. The screening event will feature Mississippi’s own Carl Jackson, who may not be a household name to some, but is a country music legend in Nashville. Mississippi Public Broadcasting is producing a documentary on Jackson that’s slated to premiere January 2020 on MPB Television. We’ve interviewed a bunch of stars, folks like Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton, Tom T. Hall, Linda Ronstadt and the list goes on.

It’s difficult to contain my excitement over the Burns documentary and the synergy that connects Mississippi to the music. To celebrate this beloved genre, the MPB Foundation is giving you the opportunity to register to win two VIP concert tickets to see Carrie Underwood in Memphis next month. To  register for the Underwood concert tickets, simply visit mpbonline.org/mpbcountry

Of course, none of this would be possible without Burns’ genius. The 16-hour country music documentary begins Sept. 15 at 7 p.m. and will run over several days. Mississippians will be proud. Our own Marty Stuart narrates much of the story. And Meridian’s Jimmie Rodgers is profiled in a lengthy segment that has plenty of humor about the risk-taking musician who died too young. This country music documentary – and MPB’s total immersion of it – will make you proud. It’s what public media does best. It offers content and context at a level that simply isn’t available anywhere else.