Stardom on Display: Preserving the history of America’s country music

481by Tina Murray

How do you feel about country music? Have you ever been to Nashville, Tennessee? Nashville is home to America’s country music, as well as, generations of country-music celebrities.

If you aren’t familiar with the history of country-music, I know where you can learn about it. Read on. On the other hand, if you are a long-time country music fan, and you have a hankering to see Glen Campbell’s leather pants or Elvis Presley’s Army shirt, this same place will delight you.

Sequined jackets, flashy gowns, vintage guitars, framed gold records and authentic concert posters are but a few of the many treasures you will discover at The Country Music Hall of Fame (R) and Museum in Nashville. The impressive, newly expanded facility, which boasts The Taylor Swift Education Wing, houses a large, permanent, core exhibit, “Sing Me Back Home: A Journey Through Country Music.”

The entire tour is fascinating. You can lose yourself easily as you wander in wonder. When, at last, you take a break from viewing, treat yourself to a Moon Pie or Goo-Goo Cluster. Either of these down-home pleasures will sweeten your adventure in country-music history.

In addition to its permanent collection, the Museum offers varying exhibits related to today’s popular country-music stars. Recent exhibits include “Brad Paisley: Diary of a Player.” This exhibit offered fans the opportunity to explore and appreciate Paisley’s rise to fame. Now a major recording artist, Paisley began his career as a child prodigy, one who learned his craft and developed his talent from an early age, to become an accomplished guitarist, singer, and songwriter. You can find such information and much more on the facility’s website.

Other recent exhibitions were “Homegrown: Zac Brown Band,” “Alabama: Song of the South” and “Charlie Daniels: Million Mile Reflections.” Such exhibits engage and enlighten fans and newbies alike. One popular exhibit, “Dylan, Cash, and the Nashville Cats: A New Music City,” was timely. While the exhibit was up, Dylan won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Be sure to check upcoming exhibits and plan your visit accordingly.

Nashville itself is growing both in population and sophistication. The museum facility is located near the city’s enormous new convention venue, Music City Center. What’s more, it is connected, by a corridor of shops, to the grand, new Omni Hotel. Luxury and fine dining are readily available.

But you can grab a quick bite at the Red Onion, on-site, or other nearby eateries. Want to duck outside for a spell? Relax with a drink? Listen to live music? Go ahead. Your Museum tickets will be good for the whole day. Head over to Broadway, a busy main street and tourist destination, lined with honky-tonks, bars, and restaurants. If the atmosphere is too hectic, take a stroll along the Cumberland River or across it, on the walking bridge (see photo). Refreshed, head back and continue viewing exhibits.

Be sure to visit RCA Studio B, an off-site tour the Hall of Fame/Museum offers at an additional price. This historic recording studio, located on famed Music Row, was used by many of the greatest popular recording artists of all time, including Elvis Presley. It is a must-see for anyone who grew up listening to the hits of the 20th century. Don’t be surprised if you have a spiritual or, at least, an emotional experience while there.

The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum offers more than memorabilia, interactive displays, and archival recordings. It offers music-related classes, workshops, songwriting events, school programs, and family-oriented activities. (Fiddle lessons, anyone?) If you’re staying in Nashville for a while, take advantage. Be sure to sign up for the online newsletter, too, to keep abreast of new offerings.

Today’s Nashville–a.k.a. Music City, USA– is the laid-back hub of professional musician and writers of all genres. Residents pride themselves on not making a big deal out of spotting stars, many of whom live in the area or visit often. However, the CountryMusic Hall of Fame and Museum proves how proud Nashvillians are of their musical heritage. They would love to share that heritage with you and yours, so come on down, y’all.

Website: countrymusichalloffame.org

Email: info@countrymusichalloffame.org

Phone: (615) 416-2001

Address: 222 Fifth Ave. South, Nashville, TN 37203 (Downtown)

The Museum’s entrance is located on Demonbreun Street (pronounced “De-MON-bree-uhn” by locals) between Fourth Avenue South and Fifth Avenue South. The price of admission for one adult is around $25. Discounts are offered for children, seniors, and members of the military. Tour packages are available, at various prices. Contact the museum for details or visit the website.

Hours: 9 a.m – 5 p.m. (Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas)

Parking: TCMHFM’s website suggests the link, ParkItDowntown.com.

Things change change over time, of course. You’ll need to verify this information and check for updates prior to your visit. Also, note that the area experiences four seasons. Plan your trip accordingly. Whenever you do decide to visit the hallowed halls of Music City, I hope you have a fine, old time.

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