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Birthplace of Country Music Museum

Birthplace of Country Music Museum 

Known as the "Birthplace of Country Music," Bristol’s streets are almost always filled with the sounds of live performances, whether that be bluegrass, folk, country, blues, or gospel. This summer, Bristol celebrates the 90th anniversary of the legendary 1927 Bristol Sessions recordings with a series of panels, performances, premieres, and more showcasing the deep impact of the Sessions. The Bristol Sessions were produced by Ralph Peer of the Victor Talking Machine Company and included the first recordings of the Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers, among others. These recordings ushered in a new era for the music industry with their commercial success and the state-of-the-art technology used to record them.

Today, that history is kept alive with country music murals, monuments, destinations and events throughout the city. The Birthplace of Country Music® Museum, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, tells the story of the 1927 Bristol Sessions recordings, explores how evolving sound technology shaped their success, and highlights how this rich musical heritage lives on in today’s music. Through text and artifacts, multiple theater experiences, and interactive displays – along with a variety of educational programs, music performances, and community events – the exciting story of these recording sessions and their far-reaching influence comes alive. Rotating exhibitions from guest curators and other institutions, including the Smithsonian, are featured throughout the year in the Special Exhibits Gallery. The museum also houses a research collection including an extensive digital archive.

The museum is a touchstone for visitors seeking comprehensive knowledge of the music of our region and Bristol's important role in the evolution of recorded music history.


Recording Project

Album honors historic "big bang of country music" in Bristol VA/TN

Orthophonic Joy: The 1927 BristolSessions Revisited

This Smithsonian Institution-affiliated Birthplace of Country Music Museum is dedicated to preserve the legacy of the 1927 Bristol Sessions and their lasting influence on American popular music. Johnny Cash referred to the famous Sessions as "The single most important event in the history of country music." Also known as the "Big Bang of Country Music," the legendary recordings by Ralph Peer took country music to a new level and produced pioneers of the genre, such as Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family.

Vince Gill and Carl Jackson"Orthophonic Joy: The 1927Bristol Sessions Revisited," features entertainment legend Dolly Parton, as well as country music stars Vince Gill, Emmylou Harris, Marty Stuart, Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers and Ashley Monroe. The recording project includes 16 of the original songs from the Bristol Sessions.

The idea to recreate the Bristol Sessions had been discussed within the Birthplace of Country Music organization for years, but the serendipitous connection between board member John Rainero, veteran songwriter Rusty Morrell and producer Carl Jackson helped bring "Orthophonic Joy: The 1927 Bristol Sessions Revisited" to life.

Last Updated: 1/21/2020

90th Anniversary of the Bristol Sessions

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