In October 2015, the Birthplace of Country Music Museum unveiled the special exhibit “Tennessee Ernie Ford: A Life on Stage.” A look into the life and legacy of Tennessee Ernie Ford, the special exhibit will feature photographs, artifacts, audio and video materials, and special programming during its 4-month duration in the museum.
A pioneer in radio and television broadcasting who also recorded a prolific 85 albums, Tennessee Ernie Ford made his mark on American show business through the blockbuster recording “Sixteen Tons,” his television show The Ford Show, and his television specials. At ease on stage and in front of the camera, Tennessee Ernie Ford paired masterful musicianship with his engaging on-stage personality during his performances and comedic skits with entertainers such as Minnie Pearl, Odetta, and Liberace. Despite his fame, “The Ol’ Pea Picker” kept his hometown of Bristol, Tennessee close to his heart and in his persona; his performances on radio, television and in studio recordings captured the down-home character and integrity he valued.
This special exhibit opened during the 60th anniversary month of the release of “Sixteen Tons” and explores Ford’s accomplishments and legacy, along with his family life, which was often lived in front of the camera. Visitors to the exhibit are invited to consider Ford’s enormous impact on music and television, his amazing ability to capture audiences young and old, and his long and varied career in entertainment, which spanned an astonishing 40 years.
As a supplement to the special exhibit, screenings of one 30-minute Ford Show episode will run regularly during the lifetime of the Ernie Ford exhibit, October 24, 2015 – February 14, 2016. Every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, a single 30-minute episode will be screened in the Performance Theater at 12:00 noon; every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, a single 30-minute episode will be looped in the Performance Theater between 2:00 and 4:00 p.m. (unless the theater is in use for a WBCM radio event). The episodes shown will change approximately every two weeks.
Admission to the exhibit is included in your regular museum admission fee; admission to the Tennessee Ernie Ford exhibit on its own is $7.
Image Credit: Les Leverett, Copyright Grand Ole Opry, LLC