Growing up in Missouri, country music was part of my landscape. With the Ozark Mountains and Branson, MO fairly close to St. Louis, Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, The Oakridge Boys and so many more, filled the airwaves of my local radio station creating love of an art form that exists for me to this day.
Country: Portraits of an American Sound outlines the history of country music through the eyes of the photographers who documented the ever-changing look and sound of ranging from the Carter Family to more contemporary artists like Taylor Swift.
From the hills of the Rocky’s to Nashville to Memphis to Bakersfield, we have a front row seat to the images and influences changing from a hillbilly with banjos to the ever popular 10-gallon hat, big buckles, big hair and beaded gowns.
Not many people are aware that country music actually emerged from the blues. But, in the 60’s, was highly identified with racism in politics through iconic figures like George Wallace. Grammy winner and blues icon Ray Charles changed the image of how country artists were perceived like paving the way for other artists of color like Charley Pride and Darius Rucker.
Being a person of color, I was particularly moved to know the back story of Charley Pride as a former baseball player. The truth of the matter is that you can’t segregate the airwaves. Music is a universal language that knows no race, color or creed.
Numerous photographers ranging from Grand Ole Opry’s photographer, Les Leverett, iconic music photographers Henry Diltz and Raeanne Rubenstein, celebrity portraitist Leigh Wiener, documentarian Henry Horenstein, contemporary shooters David McClister and Michael Wilson share amazing insight, as well as, over 20 country music artists including Rosanne Cash, Roy Clark, Merle Haggard, Lyle Lovett, Charley Pride, LeAnn Rimes, Kenny Rogers, Tanya Tucker, The Band Perry and Keith Urban. The film weaves how a photo could capture the personality and style of an artist with the simple snap of a camera shutter.
COUNTRY: PORTRAITS OF AN AMERICAN SOUND includes never-before-seen photographs, footage and unforgettable moments with stars from the country music world including Garth Brooks, Lee Ann Womack, Ronnie Milsap, Lorrie Morgan, and fashion designer Manuel. Additional interviews include: Bill Anderson, Terri Clark, Brenda Lee, Connie Smith, Marty Stuart, Tanya Tucker and Holly Williams.
If you love country music and are interested in its history…this is definitely the doc for you!!! Country: Portraits of an American Sound can be streamed online via iTuns, Vimeo, Vudu, You Tube , as well as, VOD TODAY February 21.