Museum explores all Commonwealth’s roots in all genres
By John Herndon, KentuckySings.com
When Jessica Blankenship was named director of the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame earlier this year, we knew this little gem just off I-75 at Renfro Valley was in for some changes.
Some big changes. At least in getting the word out about what’s going on at the Hall of Fame.
Let’s just say if you haven’t heard about some of the goings on at the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame in the last few months, you haven’t been paying attention.
Blankenship, a London native who has a passion for music history and has been tirelessly promoting the work of the Hall of Fame since leaving the Kentucky Department of Transportation for her dream job. While her areas of expertise are country and bluegrass music, she’s reached out to others, including KentuckySings.com, for input about promoting other genres.
But for now, Blankenship is busy putting the finishing touches on the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame induction ceremony set for Friday, October 28 at 6 p.m. It will be held at the Renfro Valley Entertainment Center, located next door to the Hall of Fame on U.S. 25, just north of Mt. Vernon.
The Hall of Fame Class of 2022 includes longtime Grand Ole Opry backup singer Norah Lee Allen, who got her start as a member of the Stewart Sisters gospel group from Bowling Green. Also in this year’s class are country star Carly Pearce, Grand Ole Opry steel guitarist Tommy White, blues guitarist and singer Tee Dee Young and country singer/songwriter Marty Brown, who penned “I’m From The Country.”
Also being inducted posthumously are guitarist-producer Paul Yandell and bluegrass songwriter Pete Goble.
“One of my favorite things over the years has been the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame Induction ceremony,” Blankenship said in an email. “Getting to learn about each of these inductees on a personal level has been amazing. All of the inductees will be performing, but we will also have country music star Steve Wariner (Hall of Fame Class of 2011) and other surprise guests on hand.
“Cindy Travis, the daughter of pioneer inductee Merle Travis, as well as Fred Gretsch of Gretsch Guitars will be on hand too.”
Blankenship says a tribute to Kentucky musicians who died in the past year, including Loretta Lynn, Naomi Judd and J.D. Crowe.
The Hall of Fame is a fascinating look at the growth of all genres of music throughout Kentucky. It includes the influences of churches and gospel music and previous Hall of Fame inductees include gospel singers Jason Crabb, Steven Curtis Chapman, Larnelle Harris and Dottie Rambo, all Kentucky natives.
Inductees from other genres include Ricky Skaggs, Bill Monroe. Rosemary Clooney, Brady Bunch mom Florence Henderson and the Everly Brothers.
“Coming on board as the new Executive Director, I wanted to maintain some of the things we have done in the past as well as expand on what we can potentially do,” Blankenship said. “I have created a vision to have the museum as an interactive musical playground where you can learn about the history, but also how to perform, whether it be vocal or instruments. We’ve started lessons in those areas. I’ve also brought back the Artist in Residence program, picking Sydney Adams to represent the Hall of Fame. I’m also looking into expanding beyond country and bluegrass by having more in other genres but also other styles of music including Native American, Latino and more. We are also going to do more performances as well as update exhibits. I am also expanding our social media and online presence as well to help tell the story of Kentucky’s past.”
Many of the musical styles are intertwined and gospel or Christian music plays a key role in Kentucky’s musical heritage as many artists state their first tastes of performing came in churches.
“It’s been an honor and pleasure being the Executive Director and is not a title I take lightly,” Blankenship said. “The Kentucky Music Hall of Fame and Museum is a place that honors and preserves our rich musical heritage in Kentucky. I hope to continue that tradition and honor that commitment.”
IF YOU GO …
Tickets for the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony are on sale at www.renfrovalley.com or can be purchased by calling 1-800-514-3849. Tickets, if available, can also be purchased at the door.
Blankenship says the Hall of Fame still has some sponsorship opportunities for the event available starting at $100. Contact the Hall of Fame at email@example.com or call the Hall of Fame office at 606-256-9814 for more information.
ABOUT THE KENTUCKY MUSIC HALL OF FAME
To learn more about the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame, visit www.kentuckymusichalloffame.com. The museum is located at 2590 Richmond Street, Mt. Vernon, Ky. and is open from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Admission is $10. The museum is closed for selected holidays.
To contact the museum, call 606-256-1000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.