On Sunday, August 3, Martina McBride will headline a concert at The Paramount Center for the Arts in historic downtown Bristol, Tennessee USA, as part of the Birthplace of Country Music Museum's Grand Opening Weekend of Events.
The date is significant.
August 3, 1927 was the day Jimmie Rodgers – one of country music’s first stars – auditioned for record producer Ralph Peer in Bristol, Tennessee.
The records Peer produced in Bristol that year are described as the big bang of country music. In late July and early August, artists including The Carter Family, the Stoneman Family, and Rodgers made recordings in a makeshift recording studio inside Bristol’s Taylor-Christian Hat Company.
Johnny Cash, who married a daughter of the Carter Family, once said: “These recordings in Bristol in 1927 are the single most important event in the history of country music.”
Bristol was the hometown of Rodger’s band, the Tenneva Ramblers, and they’d heard Peer, who worked for the Victor Talking Machine Company, was coming to Bristol to record local musicians.
Rodgers and the group arrived in Bristol on August 3 and auditioned for Peer, and he agreed to record them the following day.
On August 4, Jimmie Rodgers recorded Sleep, Baby, Sleep and The Soldier’s Sweetheart.
Later that year he recorded again with Peer with one of the songs, T for Texas (released as Blue Yodel), going on to sell almost half a million copies.
Rodgers was not the first artist Peer recorded in Bristol.
On August 1 The Carter Family stood before the microphones in Peer’s makeshift studio. Two brothers, AP and Ezra Carter, had married cousins Sara Dougherty and Maybelle Addington.
With Sara singing lead, Maybelle singing harmony and playing guitar, and AP singing lead or harmony, the trio would go on to record many folk songs until the 1940s.
Next weekend McBride joins Carlene Carter (who is Ezra and Maybelle’s granddaughter), Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, and Hello Stranger featuring Dale Jett for this concert celebrating Bristol's heritage as the Birthplace of Country Music.
"The addition of Martina McBride is very exciting because she will be part of Bristol's history as we open the Birthplace of Country Music Museum," the museum’s executive director, Leah Ross, said. "Seeing her perform at the Paramount with Carlene Carter, Dale Jett, and Doyle Lawson will be legendary."
Charlene Baker, director of marketing and communications for the new museum said the facility is an amazing state-of-the-art, multimedia experience.
“There are several films in different areas of the museum that not only tell the story of the Bristol Sessions, they bring history full circle into the present in a way that is evocative and cinematic.
“Great attention was paid to the acoustics and quality of sound throughout. It's a subtle, wondering chorus in some areas and an immersive concert experience in others.
“This is not a museum reliant on artefacts; it is an interactive place of learning through sight and sound. It's an amazing story of American music and its impact on the artists of today.
“We are very proud to share it with the world,” Charlene said.