Last year, we reported a fascinating but sad story from Nashville, Tennessee on how the Covid shutdowns had devastated Music City closing bars and honky-tonks and shutting out aspiring country music stars, some of them forever gone from the stage. We recently checked back in and found a happy turnaround. One bright spot: the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, which reopened its doors and quickly recorded some record breaking weeks of tourist visits.
The following is a transcript of a report from "Full Measure with Sharyl Attkisson." Watch the video by clicking the link at the end of the page.
Nashville’s famed Broadway District, where country music’s next stars come to be discovered. Many dream of ending up here, The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, very much back in business after a devastating six-month long Covid shutdown.
The museum’s Lisa Purcell shows us around before the days’ opening.
Lisa Purcell: Country Music is a lot like America and is reflective of America. There are immigrant stories, migration stories. There are stories of slavery and it is a coming together of this American tradition in a very folks rootsy manner that became a commercial art form, really after the advent of recorded sound and then radio.
Purcell: The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is a wonderful repository for American history that tells the story of the United States through country music And as you can see, there's folk music from the British Isles and early instruments. There is a banjo which comes from Africa and African American folk music in blues is central to the sound of country music. As we move through time, religion, culture, segregation, all of the things that America faces good, bad, indifferent are all reflected in the music and it's fun to honestly tell the story of America through its art and through its music, especially such a populous musical art form.
Purcell: One of the big pieces that changed country music in the sound of country music and the popularity of country music was rock and roll. We had this very traditional sound and as rock and roll was exploding and teens were listening to it and you had this bluesy sound and these different moves it's how does country music adapt to it and maintain its audience? So it starts to adapt some of the things that in sounds that you hear in rock and roll some blues, some rockability some other pieces. And you see that in the music in sounds of Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis. Memphis, Tennessee, incredibly important in the rock and roll country, music story
Purcell: So this is Elvis's gold plated Cadillac. It's a Cadillac Fleetwood 1960 model. All of the gold trim that you are seeing is indeed gold. This opalescent color that we are used to seeing in Cadillacs, Elvis perfected with 40 coats of crushed diamonds and fish scales. So it is beautiful and amazing. And it's really fun to look inside. On the ceiling you'll notice some gold records mounted to the ceiling. You'll notice a phone that calls all the way from the back seat to the front seat, a shoe shine machine, an ice box, a television. It was quite the way to travel. It was a spectacular vehicle truly fit for a king. Cars in country music are a huge part of the culture and a huge part of the showmanship. And we see these great car stories with great artists all the way through.
Purcell: Martina McBride the power of her voice, goodness, her story is so epic. As a young woman growing up in Kansas and playing in a family band for there are costumes and The Shifters, her family band, you can see a jacket there. Lots of dresses.
Purcell: We have the good fortune of always having some Taylor [Swift] artifacts on display, we have what she wore with Brendon Urie to perform “Me” at the 2019 Billboard Music Awards. That was such a fun, colorful, amazing moment in the lover era of Taylor.
Purcell: We're really grateful to have seen a lot of return of tourism and interest. Certainly it looks different. Everything looks different in the Covid era. People coming, and feeling the mecca touchstone feeling the power of the Hall of Fame and reflecting the history in their life in music is the constant. And it's awesome.
Sharyl (on-camera): The museum has been open about 57 years. Purcell says the six month Covid closure cost them more than $30 million.
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