Are you a country music fan? Do you love to not only listen to your favorite stars, but also to learn more about them? Are you going to be in Nashville, Tennessee anytime in the near future? Do you still remember stars of the past, such as Hank Williams and Loretta Lynn? If you could answer yes to all of these questions, make sure you visit the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, 222 Fifth Avenue South, during your stay in Nashville.
In 1961 the Country Music Association announced plans for the creation of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. In November of the same year the Country Music Association announced the first three inductees would be Hank Williams, Jimmie Rodgers, and Fred Rose. Bronze plaques, with a facial likeness and a thumbnail biography of each inductee were cast. Ernest Tubb unveiled the plaques at the Grand Ole Opry. Those plaques and subsequent plaques for new inductees were displayed in the Tennessee State Museum until 1967.
The Country Music Association (CMA) in 1963 announced the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum would be built on Music Row in Nashville. The Country Music Foundation was charted as a nonprofit education foundation to operate the museum.
In 1967 the original Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum opened April 1 on Music Row. Operations included educational programs, the CMA Press and CMA Records, the Country Music Foundation Library (which opened in 1968), and historic sites, RCA Studio B (added in 1977) and Hatch Show Print (1986). That building was later razed. It is now a private parking lot for employees of the music licensing firm BMI. Before they became major country stars, Trisha Yearwood and Kathy Mattea acted as tour guides for the original museum.
The new $37,000,000 museum was opened ten blocks away on May 17, 2001. One featured exhibit was, “Sing Me Back Home: A Journey Through Country Music.” The exhibit featured a collection of original recordings, instruments, costumes, and photographs. The exhibit also included the Hall of Fame Rotunda, which displays the plaques of all the inductees of the Country Music Hall of Fame. The Ford Theater, which is also in the building, provides an intimate concert venue.
There are symbolic images on the exterior of the building, such as windows that look like the black keys of a piano. Other images include the diamond-shaped radio mast, a miniaturized replica of the WSM tower, which is located a few miles away. There are round discs surrounding the tower, which symbolize different size records and CD’s country music has been recorded on. If you were to view the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum from the air, you would see a building which resembles a Bass Clef. The Northwest corner of the building extends like the fin of a 1957 Chevrolet.
A partial list of inductees in the Country Music Hall of Fame includes: Roy Acuff in 1962; Tex Ritter in 1964; Ernest Tubb in 1965; Eddy Arnold, Jim Denny, George D. Hay, and Uncle Dave Macon in 1966; Bob Wills in 1968; Chet Atkins and Patsy Cline in 1973; Johnny Cash (who also has been inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame) in 1980; Marty Robbins in 1982; Loretta Lynn and Roy Rogers in 1988; Tennessee Ernie Ford in 1990; George Jones in 1992; Willie Nelson in 1993; Merle Haggard in 1994; Tammy Wynette, Elvis Presley (who also was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame) and others in 1998; Dolly Parton, Conway Twitty and Johnny Bond in 1999; Charlie Pride in 2000; and Alabama, Glen Campbell, and DeFord Bailey in 2005.
While the exhibit, “Sing Me Back Home: A Journey Through Country Music,” is a permanent exhibit, along with permanent exhibits the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum has a variety of temporary exhibits. From March 10, 2006 through December 31, 2006, the museum will have a Ray Charles exhibit. Included are artifacts, instruments, costumes, photographs, computer interactive materials, and moving images, which tell of the impoverished child who became the “genius of soul,” and who also record some country songs in his own style. From August 2007 through June 2008, the museum will have a Marty Robbins exhibit, a tribute to the singer, songwriter, actor, who had hits from 1952 to 1983, including 18 number one songs.
The museum also has programs that allow people to interact with musicians, songwriters, and artists.
If you will be in Nashville, you won’t forget a trip to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.