Country Music

Jedd Beaudoin and Chuck Mead discuss the evolution of Mead's music at Country Music: A KMUW Music Tasting
Credit Jordan Kirtley

KMUW is celebrating Kansas' unique role in the evolution of country music with a series of special features.

Kansas native Chuck Mead, a founding member of the group BR549, joined us for Country Music: A KMUW Music Tasting on September 5 at Roxy's Downtown. It was an evening of music and conversation hosted by Strange Currency's Jedd Beaudoin. 

KMUW is taking this look at Kansas' country music roots leading up to the debut of Country Music, an eight-part, 16-hour documentary series directed and produced by Ken Burns.

The series premieres Sunday, September 15, at 7:00 p.m. central on KPTS Channel 8.

Ken Burns is to contemporary television what baseball is to contemporary sports: a vestige that remains relevant, no matter that there are gadgets and gizmos galore competing for our attention. Just as families once flocked to the box on Sunday nights to see Ed Sullivan introduce the most exciting entertainers of the day or others gathered around the tube to witness historic programs such as Roots, so too do we find occasion to hunker down and dig into a new Burns series every now and again and learn something more about America's cultural heritage.

During the settlement of the West, one in four cowboys were black. But their contributions have long been overlooked by the mainstream historical record.

One need only look at the backlash over 2019's biggest single, Lil Nas X's "Old Town Road," to see how overlooked black cowboys have become.

When Wrangler jeans teamed with the rapper, the company faced criticism over what some claimed was cultural appropriation—that the cowboy image was the province of white America.

Hugo Phan / KMUW

For many music lovers, Woody Guthrie is the quintessential folk artist.

He is the man who scrawled "This Machine Kills Fascists" on his guitar and sang about social injustices.

But Guthrie's musical legacy reaches far beyond the folk designation. For some, he is a founding father of country music.

Joshua Moon Wilkins

Kansas native Chuck Mead is the subject of KMUW's upcoming music tasting on Thursday, Sept. 5, at Roxy's Downtown.

Raised in Lawrence, Mead is a founding member of the Grammy-nominated band BR549. He also brought the Tony Award-winning musical Million Dollar Quartet to life via his understanding of the intersection between rural and urban music.

Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

Explore the history of a uniquely American art form: country music. From its deep and tangled roots in ballads, blues and hymns to its worldwide popularity, learn how country music evolved over the course of the twentieth century. Country Music, directed by Ken Burns, features never-before-seen footage and photographs, plus interviews with more than 80 country music artists.

Tune in or stream Sunday, September 15, at 7:00 p.m. central on KPTS Channel 8.

Funding for Country Music was provided by Bank of America, the Annenberg Foundation, the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, Belmont University, Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, Rosalind P. Walter and by members of ‘The Better Angels Society,’ including: The Blavatnik Family Foundation, the Schwartz/Reisman Foundation, the Pfeil Foundation, Diane and Hal Brierley, John and Catherine Debs, the Fullerton Family Charitable Fund, the Perry and Donna Golkin Family Foundation, Jay Alix and Una Jackman, Mercedes T. Bass, Fred and Donna Seigel, Gilchrist and Amy Berg, James R. Berdell Foundation, David Bonderman, Deborah P. and Jonathan T. Dawson, Senator Bill and Tracy Frist, Susan and David Kreisman, Rocco and Debby Landesman, Lillian Lovelace, John and Leslie McQuown, Mindy’s Hope Foundation, the Segal Family Foundation, Michelle Smith. Major funding was provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and PBS.