Exclusive documentary on country music to be screened in east Miss.

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MERIDIAN, PHILADELPHIA, Miss. (WTOK) -- Fans of country music in this area are in for a real treat later this week as they'll be among the first to get a sneak peak of a new documentary from acclaimed film maker Ken Burns. The film traces the history of country music and highlights many artists from Mississippi.

(Photo Source: WTOK-TV)

All of its children have come to the mother church of country music," said Marty Stuart in the documentary. "It was almost like a badge of honor that you had to bring your culture with you to the table."

Producers of Ken Burns' upcoming 16-hour documentary series, "Country Music," will screen exclusive clips of the film for a Mississippi audience. The film chronicles the history of the uniquely American art form and features many Mississippi artists and their stories.

"It will be an opportunity to know more about the history of Jimmie Rodgers and country music and how our area and our community have helped to develop it as an American art form," said Betty Lou Jones.

The first screening will take place Thursday night at the Ellis Theater in Philadelphia and will feature a performance Marty Stuart and Connie Smith. The second will be Friday morning at the Peavey Headquarters in Meridian. CEO Hartley Peavey says the film could help provide an economic boom for Mississippi.

"We need to use what we've got, and that's our musical heritage with all kind of great artists from every genre from blues to rock and roll to country," said Peavey. "This is not something we have to invent. It's a natural fact, we have a story to tell, and we need to tell it."

"As soon as this hits the airwaves, our community will once again be identified as the birthplace of America's music," said Jones. Our community will benefit from the tourism at our venues that are already here."

Country Music premieres nationwide on PBS and in Mississippi on Mississippi Public Broadcasting television Sunday, September 15th, and run through Wednesday, September 25th.

The screening in Philadelphia will take place at 7:30 Thursday night at the Ellis Theater and is a sellout.

Friday's event in Meridian will be at Peavey's at 10:30 a.m. MPB announced it will be free thanks to a grant on a first come, first serve basis. If you've bought a ticket, you will be reimbursed.