Taylor Swift, Martina McBride and Chris Stapleton have new exhibits in the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum celebrating their careers and contributions to country music.
The Country Music Hall of Fame has had a wide range of exhibitions in the past showcasing artists such as Kacey Musgraves and Shania Twain, as well bluegrass artists Bob and Ingrid Fowler, Marty and Charmaine Lanham, Jim Bornstein and Red and Bird Lee Smith, who founded the popular music club, The Station Inn.
Fox News Digital got an inside look at the current exhibits at the museum, including “Martina McBride: The Power of her Voice,” “Chris Stapleton: Since 1978” and the standing exhibit “Sing Me Back Home: Folk Roots to the Present,” as well as The Taylor Swift Education Center.
“Martina’s story is so special and so reflective of country music. As you can see, she grew up in Kansas and was raised in a musical family,” Lisa Purcell, senior vice president of external affairs for the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, told Fox News Digital. “Through life and time, she had the good fortune of coming to Nashville, entering the music industry, meeting her husband and just having this amazing life and career.”
She and her husband, producer John McBride, have had a successful career making music together, with Purcell saying “certainly John would acknowledge how remarkable her vocal skills are” and in working together they were able to create their own sound.
Purcell highlighted many of McBride’s costumes, quilts from her childhood in Kansas, wedding photos and other memorabilia showcasing her successful career in country music, saying, “It’s beautiful to see this career, the costuming, all of the successes, but also such a strong empowering message.”
“Beyond the sound and her remarkable voice are some of the topics she takes on that have been so empowering to women, like ‘A Fiery Declaration of Independence,’ from ‘Independence Day,’ ‘This One’s For the Girls,’ so many songs that just raise, not only voices, but also raise a platform and continue the tradition that Loretta Lynn really was famous for, which is empowerment of women,” Purcell said.
Another element of the Hall of Fame and Museum, the Taylor Swift Education Center, not only houses Swift memorabilia, but also works as a space to educate children in the arts. Swift, who is currently making headlines over her “Eras” tour Ticketmaster fiasco, visited the center in 2014.
When the museum expanded in 2014, they recommitted themselves to giving back, and with Swift’s help, they were able to create the two-story education center, which helps many school-aged children.
“The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum offers more than a thousand educational programs every year. One of the core programs, probably our flagship, is called ‘Words and Music,’ which teaches students how to write an original song lyric, in a way that can only happen in Nashville,” Purcell explained. “We match each classroom with the professional songwriter to pair the lyrics to music, so they have completed songs. That could only happen in Nashville, Tennessee and in an average year we write about 10,000 songs with kids.”
The education center is filled with artifacts from various Taylor’s version albums, including the typewriter used in the “All Too Well” short film, the guitar she used when she performed “All Too Well” on “Saturday Night Live” and the guitar and shirt Swift wore on the cover of “Fearless (Taylor’s Version).”
The exhibits are not only filled with important memorabilia from the artists’ careers, but the stories behind the artifacts explaining their significance, artifacts such as the outfit Stapleton wore on the cover of his debut album “Traveler,” and typewriter his wife Morgane Stapleton used to write the cover art for the album “Starting Over.”
“It’s probably important for me to draw attention to the outfit he wore on the cover of the ‘Traveler’ record,” Purcell said. “Great Pendleton jacket, a Manuel designed custom vest and a denim shirt. That road trip that sparked the title track for the album was literally a road trip. He and his wife Morgane purchased a car in Arizona after his father passed away and took this epic journey across the United States back home, writing the ‘Traveler’ title track along the path.”
In the exhibit, fans will get to see the beginning of Stapleton’s career, having moved to Nashville and realizing his passion for music, getting inspired by artists from Waylon Jennings to Dr. Dre. It showcases his start as a background singer and sought after songwriter to the release of his debut album and breakout duet with Justin Timberlake in 2015 at the CMA Awards.
“With that, he went not only nominated as new artist of the year, but also male vocalist and record of the year for ‘Traveler,’ and all three he won. Since that time, the voice, the performance, the artistry and the art and sound, speaks for itself,” Purcell said. “As we’re walking down this path, you’re seeing career and life from ‘Traveler’ time change really dynamically from all of these awards and recognitions including eight Grammys, up to global tours, duets with everyone from Pink to Elton John.”
Purcell remarked Stapleton’s exhibit “showcases the remarkableness of country music and all of the things that country music stands for” since his bluegrass sound takes inspiration from so many different genres. She says listeners can “hear the soul and blues” along with “the country” ant that “it is just America to its core.”
One of the most popular artifacts at the museum is Elvis Presley’s solid gold Cadillac, found in the “Sing Me Back Home: Folk Roots to the Present” exhibit. The car was customized for Elvis in partnership with Barris Kustom City in North Hollywood, California, who are famous for making iconic cars like the Batmobile.
“We’re really accustomed to seeing the opalescent Cadillac color, and Elvis, with the help of Barris Kustom City, may have discovered it first. He achieved it with 40 coats of crushed diamonds and fish skins. The gold detailing you see is gold. If you look up into the ceiling of the car, you will notice gold records,” Purcell said. “There is a telephone that calls all the way from the front seat to the back seat, there is a refrigerator, a refreshment bar, a shoe shine machine, a record player, it is the perfect ride to cruise back from Graceland in Memphis to Nashville, Tennessee to record.”
The last section of the Hall of Fame and Museum is the Hall of Fame itself, where over 145 influential figures in country music are honored, including musicians “songwriters, producers, business professionals, radio professionals, comedians and so much more.” Purcell explained what is so special about the Hall of Fame rotunda is that everyone is equal.
“Although people enter the Hall of Fame through different fields of music, they’re all honored in this Hall of Fame the same. The architectural details and styling really add a lot to that,” Purcell said. “There are musical staffs on the wall, so people are hung in no order and no time because everyone is equal here, and they can move.”
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