Monday, May 16, 2011

The country music hall of fame

Sing Me Back Home”, an exciting exhibit that depicts the journey of Country Music over the last two Centuries.

The initial announcement of the pending creation of the “Country Music Hall of Fame” was way back in 1961.  This announcement was delivered by Ernest Tubb at the Grand Old Opry.  This announcement was complimented by the unveiling of bronzed,  life like plaques of the first three inductees.  Jimmie Rogers, Hank Williams and Fred Rose, the very 1st inductees into the Country Music Hall of Fame.  They have lead the way for countless others that have carved the passage of a genre’ of music that satisfies millions around the globe today.

The original Museum opened at 222 Music Row in 1967.  It included educational programes, County Music Foundation Recordings and Country Music Foundation Press.  A Country Music Foundation Library was added in 1968.  The inclusion of RCA’s Studio B, 1977 and Hatch Show Print in 1986.  As you see the evolution of what we see as the Country Music Hall of Fame today has been an evolution over many years with much input from many avenues.  The Country Music Foundation was established in the same year as the opening of the Museum and was managed and operated as a not for profit organisation.  It was to oversee the operations and development of this iconic museum.

The modern new venue that I experienced was opened May 17, 2001.  The new facility is located Downtown Nashville only moments away from the hub area of Broadway, The Ryhman Auditorium, Bridgestone Arena and the countless Honky Tonk Bars that surround the Downtown precinct.  A magnetic draw card for hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.  It’s cost was a staggering 37,000,000 dollars.  As you enter the atrium of the building you are greeted by the beautiful acoustics from a seductive guitar.  The guitar is being majestically caressed by Nashville’s Ambassador, Mr David Andersen, who has been doing this gig for 7 years or so.  The tones are unbelievably romantic as they reverberate around the towering walls.  You can sit to relax and enjoy a meal, a coffee or a cool beverage.  You can request any song you like and this man with the magical touch can play it for you with exactly the right dynamics.  It is a remarkable atmosphere.  Thoroughly enjoyable and charming.  It sets a great mood to further the experience of your visit.  Meeting over 500,000 visitors a year he has a remarkable memory.  I ventured in for two visits whilst in Nashville. As I wandered around on my second visit the song I had requested on my previous visit began to circulate around the room. He simply acknowledged my attendance.  It is a special atmosphere.  So friendly, so warm.  It is “Sing Me Back Home”.

From the air the building is shaped like a bass clef.  The towering windows are the mirror image of piano keys. A daimond shape mast towers high into the sky and is a replica of the radio towers at WSM Radio.  WSM has just last week celebrated 85 years of broadcasting live from the Grand Old Oprey every Tuesday evening.  There are round discs surrounding the tower that represent records and cd’s.  It is architectually beautiful and once inside the country music story unfolds with dramatic appeal.

“Sing Me Back Home” is the precise description of what you will encounter as you wander through the displays which in two floor level covers 40,000 square feet of floor space. It unfolds and extends the history in consecutive order of era’s. From the days of dixieland music, true to rural Tennessee with a gospel flavour, through to the young country star who utilised internet technology to catapult her career to unbelievable heights.  Any country artist that you can think of is showcased in this remarkable display of history.  The huge glass cabinets hold all sorts of memoribilia.  Too much to list individually.  Instruments, boots, typewriters, sewing machines, records, posters, letters, songwriting notes, music scores, hats, costumes covered in rhinestones and jewels, photographs, printing machines, recording equipment, vehicles.  If you can imagine it, it is surely here, carefully displayed in artistic grace.  Amazing is one of the many words that one could use to describe this visual journal.  You can listen to original recordings of stars you may know of and even some from those you have never heard of.  You can watch video footage of artists that were stars before your parents and grandparents were born.  It is to behold to anyone who appreciates country music.  I’m sure that even someone that is not an avid country fan would appreciate the displays that are housed in this creatively designed building.  As you stroll through the museum you can watch as historians restore items that will adorn the walls and the exhibits in times to come.  As the grand spiral staircase directs you to the lower level of the museum you will be overwhelmed at the towering walls of gold and platinum records.  On these walls hangs a replica of every gold or platinum record ever achieved throughout the history of country music.  Country Music, a genre’ of music that has helped create American culture.

It is an educational extravaganza and when in Nashville a must see.  To leave Nashville without touring the Country Music Hall of Fame is to never have arrived.
To view a complete record of all Inductees go to Wikipedia/Inductees Country Music Hall of Fame
Thank you to the caretakers of this global gem.

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