Get a deeper understanding of a dynamic place and its people with SOUTHERN STORYTELLERS – premiering July 18 at 9pm

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SOUTHERN STORYTELLERS, a New Documentary Series Exploring Southern Identity Through the Eyes of Contemporary Creatives, Premieres July 18 on PBS

Billy Bob Thornton, Jesmyn Ward, Jason Isbell, Jericho Brown, Amanda Shires, Lyle Lovett, Angie Thomas, Qui Nguyen, and Mary Steenburgen Among Featured Writers From the Worlds of Literature, Music, Film, and Television


The American South is known for its boundless creativity, absorbing personalities and evocative landscapes. SOUTHERN STORYTELLERS, a new three-episode series follows some of the region’s most compelling and influential contemporary creators to the places they call home — the communities that fertilize the stories they tell in books, songs, poems, plays, and on screens large and small. The documentary series premieres Tuesdays, July 18-August 1, 9-10 p.m.  on PBS,, and the PBS App.

Poet Jericho Brown at podium. Men in tuxedos behind him.
Poet Jericho Brown

SOUTHERN STORYTELLERS comes from our desire, as native Southerners, to show the South in an authentic light,” says Courtney Pledger, executive director and CEO of Arkansas PBS. “And we can think of no better way to do that than through the experiences of the region’s writers and creators who are able to engage us, move us, and take us to a deeper understanding of such a dynamic place and its people.”

With major funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), SOUTHERN STORYTELLERS traverses the South, from the mountains of Appalachia to the Gulf of Mexico, revealing a vivid patchwork of diverse American stories that celebrate the resilience and joy of Southern people — and the magnitude of gifts from the region’s writers. Among the featured creatives are some of the most recognized storytellers from the worlds of literature, music, television, and film, including authors Jesmyn Ward, Michael Twitty, Angie Thomas, and David Joy; poets Jericho Brown and Natasha Trethewey; songwriters Jason Isbell, Thao Nguyen, Lyle Lovett, Tarriona “Tank” Ball, Adia Victoria, Amanda Shires and Justin Moore; songwriter/screenwriter/actor Billy Bob Thornton; songwriter/actor Mary Steenburgen; and screenwriters Qui Nguyen and Michael Waldron.

“We are thrilled to partner with Arkansas PBS and Craig Renaud, a talented and deep-rooted storyteller himself, to explore the breadth and depth of Southern art and culture,” says Bill Gardner, vice president of multiplatform programming and head of development at PBS. “SOUTHERN STORYTELLERS gives our audiences the opportunity to hear creators from across the region as they share, in their uniquely Southern voices, the places and histories that inspire them to honor and preserve traditions and to create new ones for the future.”

Songwriter/Actor Mary Steenburgen standing alongside railroad tracks
Songwriter/Actor Mary Steenburgen

“As dialogue and connections across differences become ever more essential to our democracy, we are excited about how SOUTHERN STORYTELLERS gives voice to Southerners to reveal Southern culture in its diversity and complexity,” said Kathryn Washington, Senior Vice President, Television Content, for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. “Besides the multiplatform series, CPB is also funding a local storytelling series for Instagram in which 12 public media stations in the South will bring even more local voices from their communities to the conversation.”

In addition to the three-part broadcast series, SOUTHERN STORYTELLERS includes a six-part companion series from PBS Digital Studios called SOUTHERN SOUNDS. The digital series explores the intersection of music and story, with a distinctly Southern perspective. Directed and produced by Keith Maitland (“Dear Mr. Brody,” “Tower”) and Terry Lickona (AUSTIN CITY LIMITS), the series offers both a front-row seat and backstage pass to the storytelling process. In each episode, Series Host Thao Nguyen invites audiences to see a new Southern Artist at work — each a unique voice reflecting the character and culture of their home community — and to explore that artist’s relationship to their hometown through the lyrics of their songs. The digital series will launch on PBS’s flagship YouTube channel on July 11.