In a 30-second preview of the upcoming Ken Burns docu-series Country Music, one of the family circle’s most diligent genealogists, Marty Stuart, sheds some perspective on how musical and topical diversity has always made the Grand Ole Opry special. Press play above to watch.

“It was almost like a badge of honor that you had to bring your culture with you to the table,” Stuart says. “That’s why Bob Wills and his guys brought us western music. That’s why Hank Williams brought the South with him from honky-tonks. Johnny Cash brought the black land dirt of Arkansas. Bill Monroe brought music out of Kentucky, bluegrass music. Willie Nelson brought his poetry from Texas. Patsy Cline brought her heartache from Virginia.

Stuart’s examples explain what made the 1940s through the ‘60s an exciting era for the Opry, a long-running radio and stage show that still bridges the gaps between generations and musical styles. "I mean, it was the most wonderful parade of sons and daughters of America that brought their hearts and their souls and their experiences," he continues. "It gave us a great era in country music."

As Stuart is an avid memorabilia collector and walking country music encyclopedia, it should be no surprise that he makes frequent appearances as Burns and his crew tell the genre's story from its beginnings through 1996 in Country Music. The eight-part documentary will premiere on PBS on Sept. 15, and the show's two-hour episodes will air in consecutive Sunday-through-Wednesday blocks (Sept. 15-18 and Sept. 22-25).

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