After more than 26 years with the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, Jay Orr will retire from the organization at the end of the month with his last day being Dec. 30.
Orr has held many leadership positions at the museum, most recently serving as Executive Senior Director for Research, Editorial, and Content. Throughout his tenure, Orr’s thoughtful approach to elevating the art of country music has been evident in every aspect of the museum, as he’s led the editorial team and overseen the development of exhibits, publications, and more.
He first joined the museum in 1984 as Head of Technical Services, where he oversaw cataloging and acquisitions for its library and collection. Excelling as a writer for the organization as well as other publications, Orr left in 1989 to write about music for the Nashville Banner. When the publication was absorbed by the Tennessean in 1998, he was among the small group of retained journalists who joined the staff.
Orr received the CMA’s Media Achievement Award in 1997 and was voted best music writer in Nashville by Nashville Scene readers in 1998 and 1999. He also served as a consultant to the Smithsonian’s 1986 Festival of American Folklife held in Washington, D.C., featuring the state of Tennessee.
He then became Managing Editor for CMT.com in 2000, and continued to report in-depth on music news before returning to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in 2002.
Once back at the museum, Orr took over its CMF Press and published award-winning books while leading the editorial team in developing, writing, and editing exhibits in addition to all museum publications, including books, exhibit catalogs, educational materials, liner notes, and more.
The industry veteran helped expand the scope of the museum’s public program offerings, including the launch of the interview series “Nashville Cats” and “Poets and Prophets” as well as the annual Artist-in-Residence performances. In 2009, the museum’s flagship educational program, Words & Music, in which students are shown the basics of music and songwriting, was spotlighted at the White House in a program moderated by Orr.
“Jay has been a force for intellectual rigor and absolute integrity throughout his service,” says Kyle Young, CEO of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. “He has brought deep understanding of music and American culture, exceptional editorial skills, and genuine passion for our mission of preserving and interpreting country music history. In many ways, he has helped shaped our core values and institutional culture, and we are all the better for it.”
“Working at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum was my dream job, and I am grateful for the opportunity it gave me to increase the public’s understanding of and respect for country music and the roots of that music,” says Orr. “The music and the culture continue to evolve, and I have confidence that the museum’s superb professional staff, led by Kyle Young, will continue to embrace that change with the enthusiasm, the curiosity, and the dedication to objectivity that inform the museum’s work. I will miss the camaraderie of the staff, but I will continue to take pride in the ongoing excellence of their efforts.”
After Dec. 30, Orr can be reached at email@example.com.
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