On May 17, 2002 at Renfro Valley the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame and Museum had its grand opening. The museum opened to the public on Saturday May 18, 2002. The museum is a state of the art facility to educate and honor Kentucky musicians. While Kentucky is best known for its country music, all music genres are honored in the hall of fame and museum.
The Hall of Fame and Museum is located in Rockcastle County on property donated by Mrs. Ann Lair Henderson, on behalf of the John Lair family. The museum is approximately 16,600 square feet, and is in the renovated historic Lair family barn. CMW Architects of Lexington formed the design. Hacker Brothers Construction Company acted as the general contractor for the project. Jack Rouse Associates of Cincinnati formed the exhibit design.
The museum is a state project constructed in two phases that totaled $6 million to complete. The Kentucky general assembly gave a total of $3.5 million from their surplus budget in 1998 and 2000. These funds have helped make the museum what it is today. Frank Shoop chaired a campaign to help raise an additional $4.1 million; his co-chairs were First Lady Judi Patton and country singer Loretta Lynn.
Included in the museum are exhibit cases of memorabilia and artifacts from numerous artists from Kentucky. There is also a large historic timeline that takes visitors on a trip from the beginning of music in Kentucky until present. Along the way visitors will see dates of concerts, radio station openings and other musically historic events. The education room of the museum is referred to as the “Music Room.” Visitors can explore the components of music: composition, beat, style, melody, pitch, and harmony, through hands on experiments. There are interactive exhibits and sound booths where visitors can even make their own recordings.
Twelve pioneer inductees were welcomed into the hall of fame on February 28, 2002. To be considered a “pioneer” the statewide advisory board and induction committee required that the artists must be defined as “those who shaped or so profoundly affected the evolution of music that it prepared the way of others who followed.” The first “pioneer” group included: Loretta Lynn, Bill Monroe, The Everly Brothers, Rosemary Clooney, John Lair, Red Foley, Jean Ritchie, Bradley Kincaid, The Osborne Brothers, Merle Travis, Tom T. Hall, and Grandpa Jones. Jazz legend, Lionel Hampton, was also honored receiving a Governor’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Contemporary artists were qualified for induction starting in 2003.
The genres of music that Kentucky has touched include: folk, gospel, bluegrass, blues, jazz, pop, opera and country. The museum has increased tourism and promoted education about Kentucky’s role in the Music field. The history, fame, and education of Kentucky’s influence on the music industry are provided through the new Kentucky Music Hall of Fame and Museum.
Written by Hannah Billings
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