In the 1920s, the hills of Northeast Tennessee were alive with the sound of country music. And when Ralph Peer headed to Bristol in 1927 to record authentic “hillbilly” artists, the future of this genre was changed for good.
Of course, country music had been recorded commercially for years, but the best artists in the biz had to travel all the way to New York City to record with major labels. And even those that could weren’t the true, authentic, southern artists with the folksy voices producers were really looking for.
Several labels sent producers around the South to try and scout out up-and-comin’ talent, but it wasn’t until Peer joined up with the Victor Talking Machine Company (for a whopping $1 annual salary!) and traveled through Appalachia that the potential of homegrown mountain music was truly tapped.
He settled on Bristol after visiting Savannah and Charlotte and set up a studio on the now-infamous State Street. He solicited artists to come record, and among those 19 performers to record 76 songs were the Carter family and Jimmie Rodgers.
Over the course of 12 days, Peer and the Bristol Sessions succeeded in introducing the musical world to a style of music that continues to shape, inspire and entertain the region and the world. And on August 1st, the Birthplace of Country Music Museum, in affiliation with the Smithsonian Institution, will open its doors and invite everyone in to have a listen and learn all about these contributions that were made almost 90 years ago.
“I think [the Museum] is going to be a huge asset, not just for Bristol but for the whole area,” commented Bristol Deputy City Manager and Believe In Bristol board member Mike Sparks. “This is truly going to be a real touchstone for the nation to come to this area.”
The 24,000-square-foot facility will offer visitors an interactive trip through time, showcasing the sights and sounds of music past. Through exhibits, galleries educational programs and a theater that will play host to year-round live performances, the Museum will continue to tell Country Music’s story for decades to come.
Join us for the Grand Opening August 1, 2014.
For more information, visit birthplaceofcountrymusic.org or call 423.573.1927.