Country Music Hall of Fame announces Trisha Yearwood, Sam Phillips exhibits

The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum will examine the career and personal journey of three-time Grammy winner Trisha Yearwood in a summer exhibition, Trisha Yearwood: The Song Remembers When. The exhibit opens July 3rd and runs through December. On Thursday, July 9th, the museum will host an Interview and Performance with Trisha Yearwood in the CMA Theater. Passes for the program may be reserved ahead of time with museum membership or pre-purchased admission to the museum.

“It’s such a thrill to see my life and career milestones displayed in an exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, from the first guitar I ever played to the dress I wore to the Grammys on the night I won Best Female Country Vocal Performance for “How Do I Live.” I’m so happy to be able to share these memories with my country music family,” said Yearwood. “This special exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is truly an honor.

The exhibit chronicles Yearwood’s life, career, and musical achievements, beginning with her upbringing in idyllic Monticello, Georgia. Growing up, Yearwood sang in church and at home. She eventually made what would prove to be a life-changing move to Nashville, where she attended Belmont College and studied in the music business program. She also worked as a tour guide at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum and as a receptionist at a record label. Yearwood signed with MCA Records in 1990, and her career took off quickly. Her initial single, “She’s in Love with the Boy,” became the first debut single by a female artist to reach #1 on the Billboard country singles chart in eighteen years. Her 1991 album, Trisha Yearwood, sold a million copies in a year—a first for a female country singer.

A few highlights of the exhibit include:

  • 1997 Grammy for Best Female Country Vocal Performance: “How Do I Live”
  • 1997 CMA award for Female Vocalist of the Year
  • 1991 ACM award for New Female Vocalist of the Year
  • Dress she wore to the 1992 ACM Awards show
  • Gown she wore to the 1997 Grammys, where she won Best Female Country Vocal Performance
  • Jacket worn in the music video for “Walkaway Joe,” which starred a young Matthew McConaughey
  • Outfit worn in Yearwood’s first music video, “She’s in Love with the Boy”
  • High school yearbook from 1982, for which Yearwood served as editor
  • The copy of her first album that she bought the day it came out—a tradition she has continued with all of her albums
  • Handwritten receipt for her first demo recording in 1983, paid for by her father
  • Wedding gown worn by Yearwood when she married Garth Brooks in 2005
  • Manuscript for Trisha’s Table, Yearwood’s third cookbook, which was released in early 2015
  • Letter from Johnny Cash to Yearwood, in which he says that she has “what it takes to make it big—and stay there.”

Events surrounding the exhibit include a July 11th Songwriter Session with Gary Harrison, who has written several hits for Yearwood including “Everybody Knows.” On July 12th, the museum will screen two short films, A Portrait of Trisha Yearwood, which illustrates the singer’s rise to country music stardom during the early 1990s, and Full Access: On Tour with Trisha Yearwood, featuring behind-the-scenes footage of Yearwood and her band on tour. Additional programming will include a Songwriter Session with Kim Richey on September 5th. Richey also wrote several songs for Yearwood, including the #1 hit “Believe Me Baby (I Lied)” and “Those Words We Said.” On October 10th, veteran producer Garth Fundis, who produced Yearwood’s record-breaking debut album in 1991, will be featured in the Music Masters series, a multimedia interview program in the museum’s Ford Theater.

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One of the most innovative and inspiring figures in the history of American music, Sun Records founder Sam Phillips introduced the world to Johnny Cash, Howlin’ Wolf, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley, Charlie Rich, Rufus Thomas, Ike Turner and many more. The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum will explore Phillips’s life and career with the exhibition Flyin’ Saucers Rock & Roll: The Cosmic Genius of Sam Phillips, which opens August 28th.

Co-curated by Presley biographer Peter Guralnick, author of the forthcoming biography Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock and Roll, the exhibition will take an in-depth look at Phillips and the social and cultural impact of the music he captured on such revolutionary recordings as Jackie Brenston’s “Rocket 88,” Elvis Presley’s “That’s All Right,” and Johnny Cash’s “I Walk the Line.”

More than merely creating a sound, Phillips initiated a sensibility. Working in Memphis in the 1950s, he preached the value of self-belief and “individualism in the extreme” to both country and blues performers, encouraging artists not to polish their sound. “I have one real gift,” he told David Halberstam, “and that gift is to look another person in the eye and be able to tell if he has anything to contribute, and if he does, I have the additional gift to free him from whatever is restraining him.”

With Sun Records and the recording studios he owned, Phillips created a progressive oasis in heavily segregated Memphis. He worked to challenge the cultural assumptions of the day, blur class and color lines, and instigate needed social change. The result was a straightforward and soulful sound that helped develop rock & roll out of a country-blues mix. Through musical integration, Phillips set out to undermine barriers of racial segregation and discrimination as the Civil Rights movement gathered force.

“Country Music Hall of Fame member Sam Phillips not only was instrumental in the careers of fellow Hall of Famers Johnny Cash, Cowboy Jack Clement, and Elvis Presley,” said museum CEO Kyle Young. “He broke the music world wide open with records that changed the way America, and later the world, thought about popular music. We are thrilled to shine a spotlight on Phillips’s incredible career and on the continued impact his work has across musical genres.”

The exhibit will be accompanied by an exhibit catalog, also titled Flyin’ Saucers Rock & Roll: The Cosmic Genius of Sam Phillips. Published by the museum’s Country Music Foundation Press, the volume will include dozens of archival photographs and beautiful color images of many of the artifacts in the exhibit. The book will be available in the Museum Store and at countrymusichalloffame.org.

Flyin’ Saucers Rock & Roll: The Cosmic Genius of Sam Phillips is funded in part by a grant from Humanities Tennessee, an independent affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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Author: Buddy Iahn

Buddy Iahn founded The Music Universe when he decided to juxtapose his love of web design and music. As a lifelong drummer, he decided to take a hiatus from playing music to report it. The website began as a fun project in 2013 to one of the top independent news sites.