BCM Reveals Symbolism Within the Sign
Clay Prewitt Sings "Stateline"
It was impossible to hide the rather large, aluminum sign being hoisted to the second story of the museum this week. In fact, passersby and shutterbugs were quick to notice the impressive piece almost as soon as it went up.
“The sign carries with it both historic and contemporary relevance. The piece integrates not only the museum’s name and a beautiful music staff but also the details of the font and music notes have special meaning to tie into our history,” says Birthplace of Country Music® Museum Director/Curator Dr. Jessica Turner.
The true nature of the “big reveal” would soon be told, as Turner began the press conference by first acknowledging members of the museum’s design team, architect Peyton Boyd of Abingdon, VA and Joe Nicholson of Philadelphia’s studioMUSarx.
Voted best architect in Southwest Virginia by readers of Virginia Living Magazine, Boyd is a renowned historic preservationist known for integrating sustainability practices into his designs. Joe Nicholson is a well-respected museum architect and exhibit designer who lists the new Liberty Bell Center Exhibit in Philadelphia and the National Civil War Museum Galleries and Exhibits as projects.
The 66’ x 3’ sign went through many changes before deciding on a final draft but was purposefully designed to look like a music staff. The font style chosen for the lettering is Century Schoolbook, a classic style that’s been in existence for at least 100 years and similar to the fonts that appear on the Victor record labels. The sign will soon feature LED lighting effects to contrast the black lettering extending in front of a music staff and notes.
Turner says the museum building project is, “on schedule and on budget. Museum doors will open in August of 2014 with a series of Grand Opening events.”
As for the museum’s interior, exhibit fabrications and work on climate controlled casing for artifacts is currently being built. A pre-qualified bidding process ensured both quality and fiscal responsibility; two fabrication contracts were awarded to companies on both sides of the state line, Tennessee and Virginia.
1220 Exhibits, Inc. in Nashville, TN will bring to life the museum’s exhibits. Examples of their work can be seen in the Country Music Hall of Fame’s current Bakersfield Sound: Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, and California Country.
EXPLUS, INC. in Dulles, VA is hard at work designing cases that will house artifacts. For 30 years the company has been an industry leader in providing comprehensive fabrication services exclusively for museums. Their work is on display in such museums as The Real George Washington: Mountain Vernon, National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial, and Hershey Story: The Museum on Chocolate Avenue.
Turner elaborated on the symbolism hidden inside the music staff are actual notes taken from a song, an unexpected tune penned by local singer/songwriter Clay Prewitt. The notes are adapted from the chorus of the song, “Stateline”, about the cities of Bristol and the music created during the Bristol Sessions. The notes behind the lyric, “Let the music play,” were fabricated into the signage on more than a whim.
“The song is both timeless and contemporary, and embodies the spirit of the Birthplace of Country Music® Museum,” said Turner.
Fans of BCM’s Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion event no doubt know the song as part of a viral video campaign on the music festival’s YouTube channel home page at www.YouTube.com/BristolRhythmmktg.
Prewitt and his These Undowners played their last song as a music group at Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion 2013 back in September, however, their song will live on for decades to come as part of the Birthplace of Country Music® Museum. These Undowners is credited as a Friend of 1927 after fans contributed during a fundraising concert for the band in 2012.
“I was born in Southwest Virginia, where my granddad was the best story and joke teller in town,” says Prewitt. “Because of him, I got interested in George Jones, Johnny Cash, and bluegrass at a very young age. So naturally, my interest in writing songs and playing music came about as a combination of storytelling and classic country music.”
As a musician, Prewitt has played as a solo act, as well as part of the Alvaredo Jones Bluegrass Band and, more recently, These Undowners. He has performed at Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion for nine consecutive years. Winner of the Gathering in the Gap Songwriting Competition in 2011, the artist just took home first prize in the Paramount Songwriting Competition in Nashville.
“Being part of the Birthplace of Country Music® is the biggest honor I could have ever imagined,” stated Prewitt. “I’m proud to be part of a wonderful city like Bristol.”
The press conference closed with Prewitt, guitar in hand, playing “Stateline” for the crowd. After all, in Bristol, it’s all about the music.