The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum recently received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to create an online version of its award-winning 2004-2005 exhibition, Night Train to Nashville: Music City Rhythm & Blues 1945-1970.
The online exhibit will revive, update and preserve the story of Nashville’s pioneering R&B scene and its role in building the city into a world-renowned music center. The exhibit is slated to be completed in November 2022 and will be free to access on the museum’s website.
The Night Train to Nashville exhibit took over the museum’s second-floor gallery from March 2004-December 2005, exploring Nashville’s R&B activity in the decades following World War II. As Nashville’s country industry was getting started, the city was a hotbed for R&B in the late 1940s,’50s and ’60s, with celebrated performers like Ray Charles, Little Richard, Arthur Alexander, Etta James, Ruth Brown and Jimi Hendrix contributing to the city’s musical heritage. The original exhibit also highlighted the roles of other often unheralded contributors, including musicians, songwriters, radio personalities, label execs, TV producers, and nightclub owners.
The online exhibit will be organized into distinct themed chapters, including the roots of Nashville R&B; the city’s live music scene; the influential radio and recording industries; R&B on television; and R&B songwriters’ and performers’ strong ties to Nashville’s country community.
The grant is part of NEH’s Sustaining the Humanities through the American Rescue Plan, which aims to support the critical role the humanities play and assist cultural institutions affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is one of eight cultural and educational institutions in Tennessee to receive funding. Approximately 115 museums, historic sites and historical societies nationally were awarded these such grants.
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