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In the Groove Reboot

This is the reboot of our In The Groove series. Each episode we'll go down a rabbit hole + discover more about something in the Center for Popular Music's collection. It's a little bit MTV News, a little bit retro morning talk show, and very DIY. We want to show you that research can be both serious and fun. In this episode we talk about musician + publisher Mel Bay.

 Center for Popular Music Policies and Procedures to Respond to COVID-19

The Center for Popular Music is open in a limited capacity as of January 20, 2021.

Covid Graphic

The Center for Popular is committed to the health and safety of our patrons and staff. We are closely monitoring the situation regarding COVID-19, and we are working with public health officials and our counterpart agencies to monitor and respond to the evolving conditions and following CDC guidelines. Follow the Center for Popular Music’s website,and on Facebook and on Twitter for immediate updates. 

Center staff will continue to serve the public remotely by responding to emailed requests. During this time, we invite the public to explore our online resources by visiting our website to search our catalog and online exhibits.

All onsite patrons must make an appointment ahead of time to insure proper social distancing and other health protocols. Appointments can be made by emailing stephanie.bandel-koroll@mtsu.edu or calling 615.898.2449. A full copy of our COVID-19 policies can be found here.

Center Collections Search Instructions

A quick five minute video explaining how to search our collections and access our materials during this COVID-19 situation. For questions or assistance searching please contact stephanie.bandel-koroll@mtsu.edu, access to materials during this time will take longer than normal. We appreciate your patience during this time.

Women Musicians in Nashville Oral History Panel Discussion

Women's oral history panel discussion 

To view the recording on and after November 24, 2020 visit: CPM Digital Programs

Jimi Hendrix A-Z

The Center for Popular Music hosted a virtual discussion with Dr. Mike Alleyne, professor in the Department of Recording Industry at Middle Tennessee State University, who recently published The Essential Hendrix: An A-Z Compendium. The book focuses on the people, places, and music associated with Jimi Hendrix. It has been fifty years since the death of the rock icon, but his influence endures. The discussion was moderated by Public History Doctoral Student Katie Rainge-Briggs.


 Jessie Scott: A Pioneer My Whole Career

WMOT's program director Jessie Scott paid a visit to the Center for Popular to talk about her experiences working in the radio industry. Scott touched on being a woman pioneering her career, the enjoyment she finds working in the industry and how her career has evolved. 

The Sonny James Collection

Sonny James 1950sThe Center for Popular Music is proud to announce the opening of the Sonny James Collection for research. The collection, created by singer Sonny James and his family, documents the storied career of Grand Ole Opry member, Country Music Hall of Fame and Alabama Music Hall of Fame member, Sonny James.

Sonny James began his career in The Loden Family band before serving in the military during the Korean War. Following his move to Nashville, he signed with Capitol Records, and later Columbia Records, releasing hits such as “Yong Love,” “Need You,” Running Bear,” and “Heaven Says Hello.” James was often referred to as the “Southern Gentleman” for his friendly and welcoming demeanor. From 1953 to 1983, Sonny James charted 72 times, including 23 that reached #1. According to Billboard statistics, between 1960 and 1979, he spent fifty-seven weeks in the #1 chart position—more than any other country artist of the era.

The Sonny James Collection consists of photographs, scrapbooks, manuscript papers and audio materials, and commercial audio materials. Researchers can learn more about the contents of the Sonny James Collection from the finding aid available online here

Bob Menasco Photo Collection

Kitty Wells - Menasco photoThe CPM is proud to announce the acquisition and processing of the Robert "Bob" Menasco Collection of photographic negatives, a small but highly significant collection of professional country music photos from the mid-20th century. Donated in December 2018 by Bob's son Rob Menasco, the photos were made in Shreveport, Louisiana during the heyday of the Louisiana Hayride in the late 1940s and early 50s.

Musicians documented in these high quality photos include Hank Williams, Kitty Wells (pictured), Johnny & Jack, Jim Reeves, Hank Locklin, Billie Jean Williams (Horton), and more.

Learn more about the Menasco collection from its Finding Aid. Please contact the Center staff for information about usage and licensing fees.

New Shelves and Lights are in!

Our new mobile and wall shleving units have been installed, along with new LED lighting. We're awaiting some final touches before everything gets cleaned up and the collection reorginization begins.

Compact shelving 1

Please note: As a result of our renovation project, some items will be difficult to access and may require more time to locate. Please let us know in advance if you need to view an item from our archival collections and we will do our best to have them ready for you. Please contact the Center's staff if you need any help.  

Center for Popular Music Awarded National Endowment for the Humanities Grant

We are excited to announce that the Center for Popular Music has received a $205,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities! The award is part of the NEH's Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections program, and will allow us to make major renovations to the CPM's archival storage room in order to preserve our materials with increased sustainability, security, efficiency, and accessibility. It's going to be a busy year ahead as we ready our space for the continued vibrant growth of one of the nation's largest and most important American vernacular music research collections!

Read the official press release here.National Endowment for the Humanities Poster

Fundraiser to Preserve Work of Late Music Photographer Alan Mayor

Alan Mayor HeadshotThe Center for Popular Music acquired the Alan Mayor Photography Collection in late 2017. Mayor, a beloved photographer who passed away in 2015, documented more than four decades of Nashville’s musical life: the Opry, Fan Fair (now CMA Fest), music industry events, local shows, tours, and a treasure trove of behind-the-scenes photos of country’s biggest stars.

While the University employs two certified archivists who will manage this project, the Center needs to raise $50,000 to purchase materials to preserve the tens of thousands of photographs, negatives and slides. Once the project is completed, Mayor’s photos will be available to the public for reference and, pending his family’s permission, inclusion in publications and other media.

 Anyone interested in making a tax-deductible donation may text ALAN to 41444 or donate online.

Marvin Hedrick Audio Collection

Brown County JamboreeThe MTSU Center for Popular Music announces the completion of the Marvin Hedrick Audio Collection website, a digitization and cataloging project funded by the GRAMMY Foundation (now part of the GRAMMY Museum). The collection includes historically significant recordings of bluegrass and country music made by influential documentarian Marvin Hedrick in Brown County, Indiana between 1954 and 1973. The Hedrick Collection was donated to the Center for Popular Music by Marvin’s sons, Gary Hedrick and David Hedrick in 2015.

Each item in the collection was evaluated, preserved, and digitized in the Center’s state-of-the-art audio preservation lab, then catalogued with essential data such as song titles, performers, and dates, using CONTENTdm archival management software. A Finding Aid was also created, giving an overview of the collection and its contents. The Marvin Hedrick Audio Collection is searchable through its dedicated website. One audio sample from each tape is provided as streaming audio for educational purposes. The entirety of the collection’s digitized contents is available to researchers on-site at the Center for Popular Music.



MTSU Box 41
1301 E. Main Street
Middle Tennessee State University
Murfreesboro, TN 37132
Room 140
Bragg Media & Entertainment Bldg.


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