American music enthusiast Ken Burns, who has made multi-part documentaries on genres such as the blues and jazz, has begun work on a new PBS series about country music. According to the Associated Press, the series will attempt to answer the question “What is country music?” It will trace the careers of the Carter family, Jimmie Rodgers, Bob Wills, Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson and more. Country fans will have to be patient, though: PBS won’t broadcast the series until 2018.
Burns’s busy schedule is the major holdup. Currently, the filmmaker is working on PBS specials about the Roosevelts, Jackie Robinson and Vietnam. His documentary about the Gettysburg Address is slated to air this spring.
The director’s exhaustive, 10-episode exploration of jazz aired in January 2001. Burns told Rolling Stone at the time that he wanted to present jazz in a way that everyone could appreciate – not just the “jazzarati,” as he put it. “Jazz has in recent times been something most people feel you have to have an advanced degree in – you know, the ‘jazzarati’ are the ones who appreciate it,” he said. “Nothing could be further from the truth. It’s an incredibly accessible and utterly joyous, utterly American music out of which all the forms that now reign supreme came.”