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Ingles Open Road: Birthplace of Country Music Museum

We’re diving into the origin story of one of the most popular genres of music in the world. From Jimmie Rogers to Johnny Cash to Garth Brooks to Luke Combs, country music as we know it today can trace its roots to one place. We’re in Bristol, and this is the Birthplace of Country Music Museum.

Bristol is famous for two things: NASCAR and country music. And we’re not doing any racing today. But we are on the fast track to learning everything we can about how this little town straddling the border of Tennessee and Virginia gave rise to an explosion of American music.

In the summer of 1927, just two months after Charles Lindbergh made the first flight across the Atlantic in the Spirit of St. Louis, and during the season that Babe Ruth was blasting out 60 home runs for the Yankees, record producer Ralph Peer of the Victor Talking Machine Company was making music history in Bristol.

In just a couple of weeks 19 acts recorded 76 songs. Those sessions came to be known as the “big bang of country music.” The 1927 Bristol Sessions featured the first recordings of both Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family. Jimmie Rodgers, known as the “Father of Country Music,” was the first person inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. The 1927 Bristol Sessions not only initiated the careers of these superstar performers, but initiated the broad commercialization of country music. Many of the songs and stylings of those sessions still resonate and influence the music of today. Johnny Cash was quoted as saying, “these recordings in Bristol in 1927 are the single most important event in the history of country music.”

Here you can learn about this story and its legacy in this fun, informative, and interactive museum. At 24,000 square feet over two stories and with a future expansion in the works, this Smithsonian affiliate delivers big fun for country fans of all ages.

In addition to the museum itself, WBCM Radio broadcasts from right here every day – keeping the music tradition of this place alive and well. And the Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion music festival brings in music fans from around the world every year keeping the tradition alive and well.

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In 1988, the United States Congress declared the town of Bristol to be the birthplace of country music, and it’s easy to see why.

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