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Welcome!  The Center holds over one million items related to American vernacular music traditions, encompassing the full range of styles in popular music, folk and traditional music, sacred music, and community band music.  The materials are wide-ranging and include, in part, early American sheet music, songsters, and broadsides; sound recordings in all formats; published scholarly books and periodicals; unique archival collections; multi-media digital collections; and databases that offer the latest marketing statistics.

The Center also strives to stimulate learning and the exchange of ideas through grant-supported projects, conferences, classes, guest lectures, concerts, the Spring Fed record label, interviews, discussion blogs, social media engagement, digitization activities, and staff research projects.  You can explore many of our digital collections, activities, and holdings on this website.  Free and open to everyone, the Center has a staff eager to help you better understand our country's vast musical heritage.

Center for Popular Music Annual Report

The CPM's 2015-2016 Annual Report is now available for your reading pleasure! This report includes information about past events, note-worthy acquisitions, collections statistics, and staff news. You can download it (or any of our previous annual reports) by following the link here. You can also access them by clicking About CPM in the left side-bar and choosing Annual Reports

Fall Events

The CPM has an action-packed calendar for the upcoming Fall semester, with speakers, performers, and other exciting programs. Mark your calendars and stay tuned to our website and social media pages for locations and other information. All events are free of charge and open to the public!

September 14, 4:30 pm — Tracy Nelson

Blues-rock singer Tracy Nelson, who Entertainment Weekly called, “blues practitioner of tremendous vocal power and emotional range,” will be on campus to sing some of her magnificent catalog and talk about her amazing career. Tracy started her career in Chicago in the 1960s, learning from Charlie Musselwhite, Muddy Waters, and Howlin’ Wolf, then became an important part of San Francisco’s psychedelic scene as the lead singer of Mother Earth. Since then she’s worked with Willie Nelson, Marcia Ball, and other icons of American roots music.

GuralnickSeptember 19, 12:40 pm — The Americans

Roots-rock band The Americans, featured in the new film American Epic (produced by Jack White, T-Bone Burnett, and Robert Redford) will present a program exploring the earliest period of roots music commercial recordings, from the 1920s and 1930s.

October 26, 4:30 pm — Peter Guralnick

Author Peter Guralnick, one of the most acclaimed music biographers and critics of our time, will do a live interview with CPM Director Dr. Greg Reish about Guralnick’s latest book, Sam Philips: The Man Who Invented Rock ‘n’ Roll. Guralinck is also the author of award-winning books about Elvis Presley, Sam Cooke, Robert Johnson, and other American roots-music topics.

November 14, 7:00 pm — Charlie McCoyCharilieMcCoy

A pillar of the Nashville Sound and one of the most versatile session musicians in popular music history, Charlie McCoy will speak about his extraordinary career and perform a concert backed by a group of Nashville pros. This program will be hosted by Dr. Travis Stimeling of West Virginia University, who is one of the world’s leading authorities on Nashville’s classic era of recording.

November 18, 11:00 am — Shelly Peiken

This number 1 hit pop songwriter will talk about her new book, Confessions of a Serial Songwriter, with the coordinator of MTSU’s commercial songwriting program, Prof. Odie Blackmon.

CPM in the News

The Center's newest Grammy grant to digitize our collection of bluegrass audio recordings from Marvin Hedrick has been getting a lot of buzz! We're so glad that everyone is as excited about this project as we are. Please check out some of the latest articles and interviews regarding the collection and the grant project below.

The project is underway now, and we'll continue to update you as it progresses! Thank you for your support.

$19K Grammy grant will help MTSU digitize new bluegrass collection

MTSU’s Center for Popular Music is the recipient of another national grant from the Grammy Foundation, this time to digitize an extensive, “historically and culturally significant” live bluegrass audio collection from Indiana music lover Marvin Hedrick.

This rare 45 rpm single by “The Weedpatch Boys,” released in 1963, is part of a large “historically and culturally significant” bluegrass audio collection recently donated to MTSU’s Center for Popular Music by the family of Indiana music lover Marvin Hedrick. Hedrick was a member of the band, as were his two sons. The center received a $19,537 grant from the Grammy Foundation April 6 to preserve and digitize the collection.

This rare 45 rpm single by “The Weedpatch Boys,” released in 1963, is part of a large “historically and culturally significant” bluegrass audio collection recently donated to MTSU’s Center for Popular Music by the family of Indiana music lover Marvin Hedrick. Hedrick was a member of the band, as were his two sons. The center received a $19,537 grant from the Grammy Foundation April 6 to preserve and digitize the collection.

The $19,537 grant will make the center an even greater research resource for MTSU students and faculty as well as scholars from across the world, director Greg Reish said.

“Mr. Hedrick was, among other things, a fixture at the Bean Blossom Bluegrass Festival,” Reish explained. “He lived in Brown County, where the festival’s held, and befriended Bill Monroe and all the other pioneers of bluegrass. He also was very helpful to younger folklorists who took a serious interest in bluegrass.” Continue reading

Want to keep up with all of our news and events? Sign up for the Center for Popular Music's monthly newsletter! 

The Center for Popular Music is rolling out a monthly newsletter in April. This newsletter will keep you up-to-date with everything happening at the Center, including new events, exhibits, collections, books, projects, Spring Fed Records releases, and more. Sign up today to be entered to win an album of your choice from the Spring Fed Records catalog! To sign up, please follow this link or click the subscribe button on the sidebar.

Join us on Friday, May 20th for a Picking Party!Tom Morgan Picking Party

Join us from 6:30-9:30 pm on Friday, May 20th in the CPM reading room for a music-filled evening in honor of musician, luthier, and collector Tom Morgan. Tom has been donating materials from his distinguished career in the bluegrass and old-time music world, so please help us celebrate this wonderful collection with him.

Bring your instruments and let's make a joyful noise in Tom's honor!

Directions to the Center can be found here.

Check out our new displays

The Center's reading room is now home to two new displays! The first display is in honor of Earth Day and was curated by our very own Graduate Assistant, Emily Boersma. It features music and materials from our collection related to preservation and care for the planet. Our second display, entitled "Music in Film", was curated by Graduate Assistant, Dixie Johnson. It features a wide array of formats relating to movie musicals and film soundtracks. Both of these wonderful exhibits give you a great idea of the sort of items that can be found within our wonderful archive. Stop by and check them out!

Earth Day ExhibitEarth Day display in the Center's Reading Room.

Music in Film display

Music In FIlm display in the Center's Reading Room.

Thanks for supporting another successful live broadcast of the Justin Reed Show from the Center's Reading Room

Friend of the Center, Justin Reed, hosted his show live from the Center for Popular Music's reading room on March 31, 2016! Luke Caccetta kicked off the show at 7 am with a little bit of country music, followed by story-teller and comedian Bruce Walker at 8 am, the Center's director, Greg Reish, played guitar, and bluegrass legend Jesse McReynolds brought the show to a close during the 9 o'clock hour. Our thanks to Justin for the great show and to everyone who came to the Center! For more information about the Justin Reed Show, please check out his website at www.thejustinreedshow.com. You can tune into The Justin Reed Show on Thursday mornings from 7-10am on 88.3 FM WMTS.

Justin Reed Collage

The Center welcomed Gary Burr on Thursday, March 24th at 11:30am

Burr FlierASCAP/Billboard/NSAI Songwriter of the Year, Gary Burr, played in the Center's reading room to a standing-room-only crowd on March 24th! In cooperation with MTSU Songwriting, the CPM welcomed songwriter Gary Burr. With 32 top 40 hits, including 14 number ones, to his credit, Burr has written for Tim McGraw, Juice Newton, Kathy Mattea, Kelly Clarkson, Garth Brooks, Reba McEntire, and many more. Burr shared stories and played his music during this event, which was free and open to the public. Thank you so much for making this event such a success!

For more information about Gary Burr, be sure to check out The Official Gary Burr Site. Additional information about the event can be found on the Facebook event page.

Thanks for joining us for an Evening of Conjunto Music on Wednesday, March 23rd 

Conjunto ProgramThe Center for Popular Music welcomed Lorenzo Martinez and Ramon "Rabbit" Sanchez for a music performance in the Tejano style called conjunto late March. These masters of conjunto shared their music and many wonderful stories about this rich tradition of Mexican-American music. Scholar and festival organizer Dr. Dan Margolies, who has worked with these musicians and been involved with the Texas folk music scene for many years, moderated and provided historical and cultural context. 

The concert was held in the Tennessee Room of the James Union Building on Middle Tennessee State University's campus at 7:30 pm on March 23rd

The Center featured two displays for Black History Month

The Center celebrated Black History Month with two new exhibits. The exhibits, A Musical Snapshot of History: Celebrating African American Heritage, featured amazing artists like Count Basie, Jimi Hendrix, Billie Holiday, Lamont Dozier, The Notorious BIG, Donna Summer, and other gems from our collection. One exhibit was housed in the Center for Popular music and can be viewed during normal CPM business hours. A second display was housed in Walker Library's atrium through the month of February.

CPM ExhibitA Musical Snapshot of History: Celebrating African American Heritage can be viewed in the Center for Popular Music....

Walker ExhibitOr in the atrium at Walker Library!

Home Made Sugar and a Puncheon Floor now available for purchase!

You can now get your very own copy of Spring Fed Records' latest release, Home Made Sugar and a Puncheon Floor! This album (and others) is available via the marketplace on the Spring Fed Records website. Digital downloads of the album are also available via CD Baby. More outlets are to come soon, but you can always get any of the Spring Fed Records catalog (or SFR shirts, stickers, and more) at Spring Fed Records events.


Home Made Sugar and a Puncheon Floor is brand new release of home recordings made by John Hartford and fiddling legend Howdy Forrester. This recording preserves a repertoire of many rare, old Hickman County, Tennessee, tunes that Howdy had learned as a boy from his Great Uncle, Bob Cates. Hartford plays banjo, Forrester fiddles, and the two share informal discussion about the tunes and their sources. Along with the remastered recordings, the CD package also includes detailed liner notes and transcriptions for all for the tunes by Jim Wood.

Thanks for joining us for the Home Made Sugar and a Puncheon floor release party!

Thanks for joining Spring Fed Records and the Center for Popular Music for the Home Made Sugar and a Puncheon Floor release party! The release party, which took place January 14th at the Inglewood American Legion Post #82, was a big success and a great time. Stay tuned here and on the Spring Fed Records website and Facebook page for more SFR events!

HFReleasePictured (Left to Right): Jim Wood, Tracy Latham, Inge Wood, Andy Todd, & Ben Ayers.

Elijah Wald visited the Center on November 18th to discuss his latest book, Dylan Goes Electric!

Wald Poster

The Center for Popular Music welcomed author and musician Elijah Wald for a book talk on November 18th held at the MTSU Student Union. Wald is author of such books as Narcocorrido: A Journey into the Music of Drugs, Guns, and Guerrillas, How the Beatles Destroyed Rock 'n' Roll, and Talking 'Bout Your Mama: The Dozens, Snaps, and the Deep Roots of Rap. 

His latest book, Dylan Goes Electric!: Newport, Seeger, Dylan, and the Night that Split the Sixties, examines Dylan's iconic performance at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965 within its broader cultural, political, and historical context. You can read more about the book on Elijah Wald's homepage here

Acclaimed Motown Songwriter Lamont Dozier named the Second Fellow of the Center for Popular Music

The Center for Popular Music is proud to announce that famed songwriter, producer, and performing artist Lamont Dozier was named a Fellow of the Center for Popular Music. Prior to the award ceremony, Dozier toured the Center for Popular Music and spoke with students and staff.

As part of the celebrated songwriting team of Holland-Dozier-Holland, Lamont Dozier penned fifty-four #1 hits for Motown artists including The Supremes, Marvin Gaye, and The Four Tops. A few of those now iconic songs that have become part of the very fabric of American musical culture, are "How Sweet It Is," "Where Did Our Love Go," "You Keep Me Hangin' On," "I'll Be There," and "Stop! In the Name of Love." In addition to his unparalleled success as a songwriter, Mr. Dozier is a producer and Grammy-winning recording artist whose career has lasted half a century. http://www.lamontdozier.com/index.html

Photos from Lamont Dozier's visit to the Center for Popular Music
The CPM Fellows program was established to honor individuals of extraordinary accomplishment in the music industry, and is the CPM's highest honor. Mr. Dozier was named the second Fellow, after Barry Gibb was named inaugural Fellow in October 2013.

 American Vernacular Music Manuscripts Website

AVMM image 4The CPM invites music researchers to explore the new website for its American Vernacular Music Manuscripts (AVMM) Project.  The NEH-grant funded project was a joint effort by the CPM and the American Antiquarian Society. It involved scanning, cataloging, and offering online access to hundreds of early American handwritten music manuscripts, including one with this striking page from the 1860s. For more information, and to see the main project website, go to: https://archive.org/details/americanmusicmanuscripts.  The scans of the manuscripts can be viewed at http://popmusic.mtsu.edu/ManuscriptMusic/

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American Vernacular Music Manuscripts

Kenneth S. Goldstein

My Homeland Tennessee

Sam T Lucas

Charles K. Wolfe

615-898-5829 (fax) 

MTSU Box 41
1301 E. Main Street
Middle Tennessee State University
Murfreesboro, TN 37132

Room 140
Bragg Media & Entertainment Bldg.

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