The Birthplace of Country Music Museum announces a new special exhibit that highlights the important work of the Music Maker Relief Foundation, a nonprofit organization with a similar mission to its own: preserving music history. “We Are The Music Makers: Preserving the Soul of America’s Music” is a multi-media exhibit of stunning photos from Tim Duffy, founder of the Music Maker Relief Foundation, audio recordings, and artifacts and folk art. The exhibit opens Thursday, September 1, 2016 and is sponsored by the Wells Fargo Foundation.
The Music Maker Relief Foundation is a program designed to ensure the voices and heritage of the South’s musicians are heard and accessible. Since the program’s foundation in 1994, Tim Duffy has been recording and preserving the music of the South, along with collecting photographs and videos, to capture these musician’s stories. Furthermore, the organization’s Musician Sustenance Program is designed to provide monthly stipends for food, shelter, medical care, and emergency aid for artists in crisis. Music Maker also helps these artists navigate the music business through booking shows and helping them release their work.
“Music Maker Relief Foundation does important work to support Southern musicians, and we are very pleased to host this stunning exhibit,” said Dr. Jessica Turner, Museum Director. “We look forward to a season of programming that highlights these Music Makers and the work of the Foundation – a wonderful opportunity to share the effort to support thriving music communities.”
The organization’s history with Music Maker began in 2006 when Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion music festival featured Music Maker artists The Carolina Chocolate Drops, Adolphus Bell (sadly, now deceased), and Mike “Lightnin’” Wells in a Piedmont blues showcase during the festival. The showcase was a huge hit, and Bristol Rhythm was among the first major festivals to book the newly formed Carolina Chocolate Drops. The old-time string band went on to earn the Grammy Award for Best Traditional Folk Album at the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards for their 2010 album, Genuine Negro Jig. Today Dom Flemons, founding member of the original Carolina Chocolate Drops, serves on the board of Music Maker; advisory board members for the organization include Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, Dickey Betts, Derek Trucks, Susan Tedeschi, Pura Fé, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, and many more.
At this year’s Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion, the museum is sponsoring Music Maker artists The Ulali Project and will be setting up three outdoor exhibits featuring Music Makers that go along with the full exhibit in the museum.
“We Are the Music Makers” will be on display in the Special Exhibits Gallery at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum through January 6, 2017.