Marty Stuart Brings Country Music History Home
|This appeared on Mississippi Public Broadcasting - July 7, 2010|
Country music history began in Mississippi with a man named Jimmie Rodgers in Meridian. Now, another Mississippian, country music star, preservationist and historian Marty Stuart is bringing his flashy collection of country music history back to the place where it all started. MPB's Ron Brown has the story.
Renee White is curator at the Tennessee State Museum in Nashville but shes come to Meridian, Mississippi with a treasure chest of shiny clothes and priceless country music history artifacts. Its part of the massive collection compiled by country singer, songwriter, showman, historian, and native of Philadelphia, Mississippi, Marty Stuart.
We take care of Martys treasures. We have a team of four people here but it took a lot of people to put this exhibit together.
Memories are the what the exhibit is all about. Its called Sparkle and Twang and it celebrates country music history in all its gliz and glory. It includes Johnny Cash's guitars, Hank Williams' report card and handwritten lyrics to some of his greatest songs, a railroad lantern once owned by Jimmie Rodgers, and Patsy Cline's makeup case and boots.
And then as a centerpiece, there are all those rhinestone studded stage outfits worn by the likes of Porter Wagoner and Webb Pierce.
The exhibit has toured the country. In addition to showing in Nashville, its been to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland and the Gene Autry Museum in Los Angeles.
There are a lot of things in this exhibit that we all know but that we forgot or that we need to be reminded.
Betty Lou Jones is the President of the Jimmie Rodgers Foundation. She says she wanted Sparkle and Twang to come to Meridian not only because Meridian is the famous home to Jimmie Rodgers, the father of country music, but because its more than a collection of country music memorabilia. It tells a story about country music and rural America.
Marty Stuart invited me to come up to the rock and roll hall of fame in 2009 to see his exhibit. And I went and I was just so excited to see it. Then he invited me to come to California to Los Angeles to the opening of Sparkle and Twang at the Gene Autry museum of western heritage. And I was once again blown away. And I started thinking this has to come to Meridian this has to come to Mississippi. I talked to Marty about it and we started making plans and what was a big dream at that time and everybody else thought I was crazy is now a reality and thousands of people are going to enjoy learning about Mississippi and Marty Stuarts musical heritage.
Linda Gent is in charge of displaying the costumes, but shes been around the exhibit enough to know that its more than a fashion show. Theres a deeper story about gospel music in the area, Native American tribes, and race relations.
You know its not so much about country music, its about the heritage here. We have traveled this around the United States and I want people to know that its so much more than country music, its about the heritage and its about them, and its about the rural areas and the small town people, cause Im from a small town, and I want them to come and see it because its their history. And weve traveled it around the united states and weve brought it home to them.
Sparkle and Twang is on exhibit at the MSU Riley Center beginning this weekend through September 18th. For MPB News, Im Ron Brown.
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