Music Pathways marks inspiration for “Country Music”

Shared photo

Ken Burns stands next to the Tennessee Music Pathways signs in front of Sun Studio in Memphis.

The origins of the genre that inspired Ken Burns’ “Country Music” documentary can be traced via a newly released Tennessee Music Pathways’ route.

From Bristol to Memphis and everywhere in-between, visitors can uncover the history that changed the course of American music and walk in the footsteps of legends as seen in Burns’ latest masterpiece.

Airing on PBS, “Country Music” coincides with the first anniversary of Tennessee Music Pathways, a program created to showcase the state’s musical legacy across all 95 counties with hundreds of landmarks and attractions.

Tennessee is home to seven genres of music: blues, bluegrass, country, gospel, soul, rockabilly, and rock ‘n’ roll. Tennessee Music Pathways connects fans to music and inspires travel using a travel planning website at

A full list of the places that inspired the music on the “Ken Burns Country Music Pathway” is available at

Those places include the following:

•The Birthplace of Country Music Museum (Bristol) and Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum (Nashville) offer almost a century of musical storytelling. The 1927 Bristol Sessions – known as the “big bang of country music” – are celebrated at the Smithsonian-affiliated Birthplace of Country Music Museum. The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is the world’s largest music museum, featuring galleries, archival storage, theaters, education centers and retail space, as well as RCA’s Historic Studio B and Hatch Show Print.

•Stand Where Legends Were Born in Memphis. Self-taught producer Sam Phillips created a new sound at the iconic Sun Studio, where Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and many more recorded. Visitors can still see where Lewis stubbed his cigar on the piano keys during the legendary “Million Dollar Quartet” sessions.

Beale Street is the “Home of the Blues,” where musicians like B.B. King, Howlin’ Wolf, and Louis Armstrong honed their music for a different kind of sound that has influenced artists for generations. Take a short drive and visit Elvis Presley’s Graceland where you can tour the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s beloved home, Graceland Mansion, or take in more than 10 exhibits that explore his passions and career at Elvis Presley’s Memphis.

•Experience Music in Hallowed Venues. Country’s most famous stage began as a simple radio broadcast in 1925. Now, nearly a century later, the Grand Ole Opry reigns as an entertainment phenomenon. In the heart of downtown Nashville, Ryman Auditorium is hallowed ground where country music’s biggest stars performed, and today’s stars still revere the beloved hall. Today, the music lives on through nightly shows and daytime tours.

•Celebrate the Women of Country Music at Sites Honoring Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, Minnie Pearl, and Dolly Parton. The Patsy Cline Museum in downtown Nashville celebrates the life of the legendary songstress and features hundreds of never-before-seen artifacts, personal belongings and videos. An engraved boulder marks the site in Camden where a small plane carrying Cline, two of her co-stars and her manager crashed in 1963.

Sarah Ophelia Colley Cannon, better known by her stage name Minnie Pearl, was a pioneering female comedian on the Opry stage. A statue made of chicken wire in her hometown of Centerville stands in her honor today.

Loretta Lynn’s Ranch & Campgrounds in Hurricane Mills includes her plantation home and the famous Coal Miner’s Daughter Museum.

Sevierville erected a statue in honor of their beloved hometown songstress Dolly Parton, best-selling female country music artist of all time. Sevier County is also home to her nearby award-winning attraction, Dollywood, which contributes thousands of jobs in her home community.

•Walk the Line in Johnny Cash’s Footsteps. Located in the heart of downtown Nashville, the Johnny Cash Museum is dedicated to the life and music career of the late “Man in Black”. Cash also needed a hideaway, and he found one in the form of an abandoned 1800s general store and farm in tiny Bon Aqua. In 2015, a pair of entrepreneurial brothers purchased the general store and farm, converting it into a Johnny Cash museum called the Storytellers Museum & Hideaway Farm.

Tennessee’s tourism industry generates $22.02 billion in economic impact, $1.81 billion in state and local tax revenue and more than 189,757 tourism-related jobs.