To complement the September 15 premiere of Ken Burns’s eight-part series, Country Music, we’re sharing a selection of our documentaries on musicians. Dive deeper into the rich history of the genre with Charley Pride: I’m Just Me and Loretta Lynn: Still a Mountain Girl. Itzhak Perlman is revered by Charlie Daniels in the new series; catch the doc on the “world’s greatest violinist,” Itzhak.
Also, we’re celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month with Pedro E. Guerrero: A Photographer’s Journey, which features an in-depth, exclusive interview with the artist.
American Masters – Charley Pride: I’m Just Me traces the improbable journey of Charley Pride, from his humble beginnings as a sharecropper’s son on a cotton farm in segregated Sledge, Mississippi to his career as a Negro American League baseball player, and his meteoric rise as a trailblazing country music superstar. The new documentary reveals how Pride’s love for music led him from the Delta to a larger, grander world. In the 1940s, radio transcended racial barriers, making it possible for Pride to grow up listening to and imitating Grand Ole Opry stars like Ernest Tubb and Roy Acuff. The singer arrived in Nashville in 1963 while the city roiled with sit-ins and racial violence. But with boldness, perseverance and undeniable musical talent, he managed to parlay a series of fortuitous encounters with music industry insiders into a legacy of hit singles, a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and a place in the Country Music Hall of Fame. Narrated by Grammy-nominated country singer Tanya Tucker, the film features original interviews with country music royalty, including Garth Brooks, Dolly Parton, Brad Paisley, Darius Rucker and Marty Stuart, as well as on-camera conversations between Pride and special guests, including Rozene Pride (his wife of 61 years), Willie Nelson and fellow musicians.
Inducted into more music Halls of Fame than any female recording artist to date, Loretta Lynn (b. April 14, 1932) has earned four Grammy Awards, Kennedy Center Honors and a Presidential Medal of Freedom, and sold more than 45 million records worldwide. Still going strong after more than 50 years, “The Queen of Country Music” is now the subject of the documentary American Masters – Loretta Lynn: Still a Mountain Girl.
With unprecedented access to Lynn, her family and archives, Still a Mountain Girl features never-before-seen home movies, performances and photos, as well as insightful interviews with her friends and fellow musicians, including Jack White (producer of Lynn’s Grammy-winning album Van Lear Rose), Sheryl Crow, Willie Nelson, Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood, Reba McEntire, Miranda Lambert and Bill Anderson.
From Schubert to Strauss, Bach to Brahms, Mozart to…Billy Joel, Itzhak Perlman’s violin playing transcends mere performance to evoke the celebrations and struggles of real life. Director Alison Chernick’s (The Jeff Koons Show, Matthew Barney: No Restraint) new documentary provides an intimate, cinéma vérité look at the remarkable life and career of this musician, widely considered the world’s greatest violinist.
The film looks beyond the 16-time Grammy-winning musician to see the polio survivor whose parents emigrated from Poland to Israel, and the young man who struggled to be taken seriously as a music student when schools saw only his disability. In the film, Perlman’s life story unfolds through conversations with fellow musicians and friends, including Billy Joel, Alan Alda, pianist Martha Argerich, cellist Mischa Maisky, and his wife of 50 years, Toby. The Perlmans dedicate their lives to their large Jewish family in New York City, shared love for music and continual support of young musicians. American Masters – Itzhak is a portrait of musical virtuosity that explores themes of Jewish identity, Jewish history, humor and love.
American Masters — Pedro E. Guerrero: A Photographer’s Journey highlights the milestones in Guerrero’s life: his serendipitous enrollment in photography classes, his 1939 meeting with Wright at Taliesin West (Scottsdale, AZ), his World War II service and his post-war magazine photography career in New York City, shooting interiors while his work with Wright continued. Settling in New Canaan, CT, Guerrero describes his life after Wright’s death, his work with Calder and the end of his magazine assignments because of his vocal opposition to the Vietnam War. This led to more work with Calder, and eventually, Nevelson. After Nevelson’s death, Guerrero, now 75 years old, returned to Arizona, where he lived until his death at age 95.
Filmmakers Raymond Telles and Yvan Iturriaga (Latino Americans) showcase an in-depth, exclusive interview with Guerrero alongside his photography to explore his collaborations with three of the most iconic American artists of the 20th century: architect Frank Lloyd Wright and sculptors Alexander Calder and Louise Nevelson. Using his outsider’s eye to produce insightful portraits of important modernist architecture, Guerrero became one of the most sought-after photographers of the “Mad Men” era, yet his story is largely unknown. La película en español aqui.