Our mission is to promote research in American vernacular music, and to foster an understanding and appreciation of America's diverse musical culture.
The Sonny James Collection
The 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
The 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.
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.
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.
Fundraiser to Preserve Work of Late Music Photographer Alan Mayor
The 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.
The 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.
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MTSU Box 41
1301 E. Main Street
Middle Tennessee State University
Murfreesboro, TN 37132
Bragg Media & Entertainment Bldg.