Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum Celebrates New Additions to Permanent Exhibition

NASHVILLE, Tenn., – Curators at the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum continue to work on additions to the Museum’s permanent exhibition, Sing Me Back Home: A Journey Through Country Music. The most recent updates focus on country music’s ‘New Traditionalists,’ including the Judds, Reba McEntire, Ricky Skaggs and George Strait. These changes, which will bring the story of country music forward in time and conclude with a glimpse of the future, will be completed on May 14, 2010.

Museum officials have also announced a weekend of special programs on May 14-15 to celebrate the unveiling of this new visitor experience; highlights will include a curators’ talk on May 14 and an interview with artist Naomi Judd and record executive Joe Galante on May 15 at 1:30 p.m. in the Ford Theater. (Additional program details are below.) All programs are included with Museum admission and free to Museum members.

The Sing Me Back Home transformation, which is taking place in the Museum’s second floor gallery, includes new archival video clips and dozens of new artifacts. The most recent updates focus on the 1980s and the popularity of country music’s “New Traditionalists.’ These artists, many of whom began their careers as the pop-influenced “Urban Cowboy” era in country music was waning, embraced older country styles, such as honky-tonk and bluegrass, adapting them with a modern sensibility. Among the artists featured in this section of the exhibit are:

The Judds. Items newly on display include Wynonna Judd’s Gibson Les Paul electric guitar, custom made for her and featuring “WY2K” inlaid in mother-of-pearl on the fretboard; and the black jersey gown worn by Naomi Judd to the 1990 Academy of Country Music Awards.
Reba McEntire. Visitors will see McEntire’s blue suede gown, featuring fringed-sleeves and sequin and lace embellishments. The singer wore the dress to the 1986 CMA Awards, where she was named Entertainer of the Year. Also on display are a pair of hand-tooled black and white cowboy boots, which bear the intriguing monogram “OY.” The boots, which were modeled after a pair owned by Patsy Cline, were worn by McEntire at her 1977 Grand Ole Opry debut.
Ricky Skaggs. Among the items on display is the mandolin Skaggs played at age seven in 1962 when he appeared with Flatt & Scruggs on their television show.
George Strait. A lasso, cowboy hat, starched shirt, hand-tooled leather belt and Wrangler jeans from the Texas superstar are all on display.
The Museum will celebrate the completion of these updates with several special programs on May 14-15, including:

Friday, May 14 Noon
Curators’ Exhibit Talk

Museum curators offer an introduction to the museum’s new visitor experience in the permanent exhibition Sing Me Back Home: A Journey Through Country Music. Included with museum admission. Free to museum members.

Saturday, May 15 11:30 a.m.
Songwriter Session: Brett James

One of the most successful writers in contemporary country music, Brett James has written hits including “Blessed” (Martina McBride), “Cowboy Casanova” (Carrie Underwood), “It’s America” (Rodney Atkins), “Jesus, Take the Wheel” (Carrie Underwood), “The Man I Want to Be” (Chris Young), “Out Last Night” (Kenny Chesney), “The Truth” (Jason Aldean), “When the Sun Goes Down” (Kenny Chesney), and “Who I Am” (Jessica Andrews). Songwriter Sessions are made possible by Ford Motor Company Fund. Included with museum admission. Free to museum members.

Saturday, May 15 1:30 p.m.
Interview: The Future Revisited: Country Music’s Recent Past with Joe Galante and Naomi Judd

Joe Galante, chairman of Sony Music Nashville, and country music icon Naomi Judd will be special guests in this freewheeling discussion of recent developments and trends in country music. As a record company executive, Galante was on the front lines for the emergence of the Outlaw movement, Alabama’s rise to prominence, and the Judds’ ascendance to superstardom. In more recent times, the label chief and his staff have shepherded the careers of Kenny Chesney, Martina McBride, Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood, to name a few. Judd and daughter Wynonna broke through in 1984 with a fresh sound that added momentum to the New Traditionalist movement. The duo was credited with “single-handedly saving country music” by Time. They sold more than 20 million records from 1984-90, landed fourteen #1 singles on the country charts, and won countless awards including seven consecutive wins for CMA Vocal Group/Duo of the Year and ACM Vocal Duet of the Year. The Judds will reunite for their first tour in a decade in late 2010. Museum staffer Michael McCall leads the conversation. Included with museum admission. Free to museum members.

As announced last December, revisions to Sing Me Back Home: A Journey Through Country Music will focus on country music’s last five decades; themes will include country’s collision with mainstream American culture from roughly 1965 to 1971; the new directions of the l970s including country-rock, pop-country, the rise of southern rock and the renaissance of full-strength classic country; and the 1980s contrast between the fashionable “Urban Cowboy” craze and the more lasting values of a new generation of major stars like the Judds, Reba McEntire, Ricky Skaggs and George Strait.

The chronological narrative will be punctuated in the second floor gallery’s theater, where the broader topic of songs inspired by topical events and social and political issues will be explored using video clips such as Merle Haggard’s “Okie from Muskogee,” Loretta Lynn’s “The Pill,” the Dixie Chicks’ “Goodbye Earl” and Toby Keith’s “The Angry American.”

On the other side of the theater, the story will resume with the mid-1980s arrival of young artists like Rosanne Cash, Rodney Crowell, Randy Travis and Dwight Yoakam, and the boom years of the 1990s, when the likes of Garth Brooks, Faith Hill and Alan Jackson ruled the charts and dominated the airwaves.

The story will enter the new millennium with new exhibit cases and video screens that reflect the face of country music in the years since the Museum’s expanded and modernized facility opened in downtown Nashville’s Sobro District in 200l. One case will focus on the contributions of hitmakers like Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood and Keith Urban. Another new case will celebrate contemporary bluegrass and Americana artists, ranging from Del McCoury to Jim Lauderdale and Buddy Miller.

The last of the new cases will be reserved for artifacts and videos that reflect contemporary country’s latest trends, events and artists. “This gives us the opportunity to collect and preserve country music history as it is being made,” Museum Director Kyle Young said. “It will also function to remind some of our younger visitors that their favorite contemporary artists are linked to the sumptuous and vivid history of country music. This revamping of existing exhibit cases and the addition of new exhibits, media, text, graphics and accompanying programs will mean an entirely new experience for our visitors.”

Museum programs are made possible, in part, by grants from the Metropolitan Nashville Arts Commission and by an agreement between the Tennessee Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Accredited by the American Association of Museums, the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum is operated by the Country Music Foundation, a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) educational organization chartered by the state of Tennessee in 1964. The Museum’s mission is the preservation of the history of country and related vernacular music rooted in southern culture. With the same educational mission, the Foundation also operates CMF Records, the Museum’s Frist Library and Archive, CMF Press, Historic RCA Studio B, and Hatch Show Print®.

More information about the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum is available at or by calling (615) 416-2001.