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Nashville stars to help commemorate opening of Bristol Sessions museum

Wes Bunch • Jun 11, 2014 at 12:03 AM

BRISTOL, Tenn. -- The Birthplace of Country Music Alliance is partnering with some of Nashville's biggest names to not only commemorate the opening of a new museum this summer, but also to pay tribute to the legacy of the legendary producer Ralph Peer and the historic 1927 Bristol Sessions.

The Aug. 1 grand opening of the Smithsonian Institution-affiliated Birthplace of Country Music Museum was made official Tuesday afternoon during a joint concert-press conference held by the BCMA and its various partners at the Paramount Theater in downtown Bristol, Tenn.

The album, entitled "Orthophonic Joy: the 1927 Bristol Sessions Revisited," was also unveiled during the event. The project will feature performances by Dolly Parton, Vince Gill, Marty Stuart, Emmylou Harris, Doyle Lawson, Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers and several other artists. Voice of the Grand Ol' Opry Eddie Stubbs is also participating.

Stubbs, Jackson and several artists held a sister press conference at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville on Tuesday to promote the album in conjunction with their counterparts in Bristol.

Each track on the album, which is currently being recorded and slated for a October 2014 release, will be selected from the list of original Bristol Sessions recordings by Nashville producer Carl Jackson.

Along with the CD project, the BCMA also announced a nationwide contest that will allow one artist, or act, to perform a song from the Bristol Sessions on the album. That track will also be selected by Jackson.

BCMA officials said the museum is being built to preserve the legacy of the 1927 Bristol Sessions, which are referred to by music historians as the "Big Bang of Country Music" due to the discovery of acts like the Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers.

"This new museum will not only tell the story of the Birthplace of Country Music, it will help pull back the curtain on the region where the music still resounds, and it will help introduce new generations, and we are all excited about that," BCMA Board President Jim Tench said. "Our new museum has the potential (to inspire and bring people together through music) year round."

Organizers said the album also shares the museum's goal by seeking to re-create the Bristol Sessions with artists from Nashville who come from a bluegrass and old-time background. The BCMA credited songwriter Rusty Morrell, board member John Rainero and Jackson with coming up with the idea for the album.

The album title also pays homage to the era by drawing its name from the Orthophonic Victrola phonographs that played the first electronically recorded audio like music captured by Peer in his 1927 visit to Bristol.

"This is all part of the same mission," BCMA Director of Marketing and Communications Charlene Baker said. "To promote Bristol as the Birthplace of Country Music and to let people know that the Bristol Sessions play an important role in the history of American music in general, not just country music."

The song contest, organizers said, was inspired by Peer's search for new country music talent by launching its own nationwide hunt for a new artist to record the final track on the album.

Independent artists will be able to submit a audio or video recording of one of four Bristol Sessions' songs, including "The Storms are on the Ocean," "Darling Cora," "Bury Me Under the Weeping Willow" and "I Am Bound for the Promised Land." The contest deadline is July 10. Four finalists will be chosen for Jackson and a panel of judges, including Jim Lauderdale, to review.

More information on the contest, including rules, can be found at www.birthplaceofcountrymusic.org.

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