Bristol, Va.-Tenn. (June 21, 2022) – The guitar owned by the iconic “Father of Country Music,” Jimmie Rodgers, was unveiled today at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum and will be on display at the museum for a limited time. Officially called the “Blue Yodel,” Rodgers’ custom-ordered the Martin 000-45 guitar and features the crooner’s name in pearl inlay on the neck. The word “Thanks” is written upside down on the back, and inside the sound hole there is a note from C. F. Martin & Company’s founder that reads: “To Jimmie Rodgers, America’s Blue Yodeler, with all good wishes – C. Frederick Martin III July 27, 1928.”
“We are so excited to have the opportunity to share the ‘Blue Yodel’ with our community,” said Head Curator Dr. Rene Rodgers. “It has been residing at the Jimmie Rodgers Museum in Meridian, Mississippi, and it came to Bristol for this temporary display thanks to the generosity of the family of Jimmy Rodgers. Having the guitar on display means so much and deepens the impact of the museum’s telling of the 1927 Bristol Sessions.”
Karen Court, a Rodgers family member and manager of Jimmie Rodgers Properties, said “In celebration of the 1927 Bristol Sessions’ 95th Anniversary, the Jimmie Rodgers Family is thrilled to share their “Blue Yodel,” Jimmie’s 000-45 1928 Martin guitar with the Birthplace of Country Music Museum – letting us honor their legacies and embrace our heritage and traditions.”
Jimmie Rodgers’ “Blue Yodel” is on display on the second floor of the Birthplace of Country Music Museum and will stay there through March 2023. The museum is also planning public programming that will delve deeper into the life and career of Rodgers, including the story surrounding his very first recordings on the 1927 Bristol Sessions, which celebrates its 95th anniversary this year. The 1927 Bristol Sessions took place from July 25 – August 5; the recordings were produced by Ralph Peer for the Victory Talking Machine Company. Over that two-week period, 76 songs by 19 acts were recorded, including Rodgers, Ernest Stoneman (with family and friends), and the Carter Family, along with a variety of other musicians and singers. This moment in American history created what many musicologists refer to as the “big bang of country music.”
“Jimmie Rodgers is the ‘Father of Country Music,’ but his legacy stretches well beyond that,” said Thomas Ripsam, current CEO of C. F. Martin & Co. “He inspired generations of musicians across many genres with his playing, his songwriting, and his showmanship. We’re proud that a Martin 000-45 is a big part of that legacy.”
For more information about Jimmie Rodgers’ “Blue Yodel,” the 1927 Bristol Sessions, and the Birthplace of Country Music Museum, visit BirthplaceOfCountryMusic.org.