What do Ray Charles, Johnny Mercer, Gladys Knight, Travis Tritt, Indigo Girls, Otis Redding, R.E.M., Usher, and The Allman Brothers Band have in common? They’re all from Georgia and have been inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame and they, along with other artists whose careers are tied to
Georgia and its music, are featured in the Hall of Fame’s museum in Macon, Georgia.
The museum was opened in 1996 to celebrate the musical heritage of the state and its main exhibit hall, Tune Town, is set up like a small Southern town featuring streets that wind through music and memorabilia-packed venues that include: a chapel, café, theater, record store, soda fountain, factory, and backstage alley.
At the entrance to Tune Town, The Jazz & Swing Club looks like an authentic Savannah music club that plays the ragtime music of Tom Turpin and Nellie Croft, the jazz of Fletcher Henderson, along with the songs of Johnny Mercer, Lena Horne, and Joe Williams. Down the street the Rhythm & Blues Revue resembles an R&B club and salutes to Georgia’s stars of the genre including Ray Charles, “Ma” Rainey, James Brown, Curtis Mayfield, and Otis Redding.
Tune Town’s Backstage Alley takes a behind the scenes look at the music industry in Georgia and highlights songwriters like Boudleaux and Felice Bryant, Buddy Buie, and J. R. Cobb. Other honorees include managers and record producers.
The Skillet Licker Café is devoted to country, blue grass, traditional, and folk music. Here you’ll find musicians from the past and present such as Gid Tanner and the Skillet Lickers, George Riley Puckett, Travis Tritt, and Trisha Yearwood.
At the Vintage Vinyl Record Store visitors discover the sounds and artists of the rock and roll scene and urban contemporary music, both old and new, like Little Richard, Joe South, The Allman Brothers Band, Lynyrd Skynyrd, TLC, Toni Braxton, Monica, and Goodie Mob.
Across the street from the record store, at the Gospel Chapel visitors view video presentations about the history of gospel music in Georgia. The venue highlights gospel greats like Dr. Thomas Dorsey, the Lewis Family, and Amy Grant. Next door is Tune Town’s soda fountain, The Coca-Cola Drugstore, where visitors have a chance to sit back and enjoy the sounds and styles of a traditional American diner.
At the Gretsch Theater visitors can watch a 15-minute film, Home Grown and World Known, about Georgia Music Hall of Fame Inductees and the Georgia music industry, including interviews and personal anecdotes. Gretsch, located in Savannah, is a large supporter of the museum.
A favorite spot for families, the Billy Watson Music Factory is a 2,400 square foot hands-on children’s area featuring a giant radio where children can watch themselves on a big TV screen as they dance to music. At the World of Music they explore music from countries far and near, and the factory’s Music Gallery has a large keyboard built into the floor that children can play with their feet.
In commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the passing of Otis Redding, a special exhibit entitled Otis Redding: I’ve Got Dreams to Remember, saluting the artist, is on display until September 10. Every first Friday of the month the main exhibit hall hosts Live at Five performances featuring local and national acts with ties to Georgia. The museum is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. For more information about the Georgia Music Hall of Fame, visit its website: www.georgiamusic.org.