A decision in the summer of 1927 made history, and established a hub for country music. Ralph Peer, talent scout and producer for the Victor Talking Machine Company saw the potential in Bristol, Tennessee, as a home for country music. Auditions were held, and a roadmap for greatness was underway. Artists such as the Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers and the Stoneman Family recorded in a makeshift studio on State Street in downtown Bristol’s Taylor-Christian Hat Company. Nineteen artists recorded 76 songs in this most significant of field recordings of early country music.
Those recordings, now known as the 1927 Bristol Sessions, distinguished Bristol as The Birthplace of Country Music. The Sessions are recognized internationally as “The Big Bang of Country Music.” Songs from the Sessions have staying power: They still serve as influential tracks for both fans and artists. Of the recordings, Johnny Cash said, “These recordings in Bristol in 1927 are the single most important event in the history of country music.” The recordings led Congress, in 1998, to recognize Bristol as the official Birthplace of Country Music.
The Birthplace of Country Music Museum, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, tells a story of musical heritage—from the Bristol Sessions to today. The East Tennessee region continues to influence music around the world. The museum is home to generous exhibit space and features a rotating exhibit gallery, music mixing and listening stations. Visitors can also appreciate multiple theater experiences and interactive, technology-rich media. Live year-round performances and educational programming make new converts and keep established fans entertained.
Hear traditional Appalachian music and performers from the region in weekly performances. Along with learning and listening in the museum, make plans for the award-winning Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion. More than a music festival, the event is a three-day music experience, chock-full of creative passion, electricity and soul.
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