The Birthplace of Country Music seeks to perpetuate, promote, and celebrate Bristol’s rich musical heritage; to educate and engage audiences worldwide regarding the history, impact, and legacy of the 1927 Bristol Sessions from which we derive our name; and to create recognition, opportunities, and economic benefit for our local and regional communities.
The Museum, Festival, and Radio branches that comprise the Birthplace of Country Music organization are all successful, respected, popular, and acclaimed, and are having a significantly positive impact on Bristol and its surrounding region – both economically and in creating recognition of Bristol’s place in the history of music.
In the summer of 1927, just two months after Charles Lindbergh made the first flight across the Atlantic in the Spirit of St. Louis and during the summer that Babe Ruth was blasting out 60 home runs for the Yankees, record producer Ralph Peer of the Victor Talking Machine Company was making music history in Bristol, Tennessee/Virginia. Between July 25 and August 5 of that year, Peer conducted recording sessions using the new Western Electric electronic microphone during which 19 performers and groups recorded 76 songs. Those sessions – the now famous “Bristol Sessions” – have also been called the “Big Bang” of modern country music, and Johnny Cash considered them “the single most important event in the history of country music.”
The Sessions featured the first recordings of Jimmie Rodgers and The Carter Family. Rodgers is now referred to as the “Father of Country Music” and was the first person inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. The Carter Family, featuring A. P., Sara, and Maybelle Carter, is now known as “The First Family of Country Music” and are also in the Hall of Fame. The 1927 Bristol Sessions not only initiated the careers of these superstar performers, but originated the broad commercialization of country music. Many of the songs and stylings of those sessions still resonate and influence the music of today. For these reasons, the United States Congress officially designated Bristol, Tennessee/Virginia as the “Birthplace of Country Music” in 1998.
We need your help to accomplish our Mission and progress towards our Vision. Seeing your name displayed in the Museum tells everyone you are a vital part of our work and legacy.
We have a highly successful Festival that has a tremendous economic impact on our region, a well respected Museum built without a major capital campaign, and a Radio Station that is being streamed worldwide.
The Museum is a jewel of Bristol and needs support from the community. According to the American Alliance of Museums, the average museum in the US earns about 27% of its revenue from earned income (admissions, store sales, rentals, etc.). The rest must come from all levels of government support and private charitable giving.
Few Bristolians and others from our region can experience our high-tech Museum without feeling a strong sense of pride. Music lovers and artists cite the Festival as one of their favorite experiences. We have played a major role in the revival of Historic Downtown Bristol, and businesses state that the Museum and Festival play a major role in their decision to locate downtown.
Through education, outreach and programming, we help introduce students to the arts, thereby stimulating creative and innovative thinking that will aid them in whatever life path they choose to follow. Teaching students about the important role Bristol has played in the history of American music instills hometown and regional pride.
We have a dedicated staff, a volunteer Board of Directors, and numerous active volunteers who are working diligently to operate our business in accordance with best practices. We have comprehensive business plans for the Festival, Museum, and Radio Station as well as an overarching business plan for the entire organization. Our governance policies and other governance documents are current and strong.
Gifts to BCM are tax deductible. As a nonprofit organization, any profits received must go back into the organization to further its mission. We must be profitable to be sustainable, to grow, and to continuously improve.
CURRENT, CUMULATIVE, AND FUTURE
The 1927 Society, which is detailed in the above section, is for individuals, couples, and families. Membership is based on giving during a rolling 12-month period.
The Unbroken Circle Society is a cumulative giving society for individuals (including couples and families) designed to recognize the impact an individual has made over his or her lifetime. Individuals do not give separately to gain entry into this society. Annual gifts that qualify individuals for the 1927 Society add up over the years for qualification to the various levels of the Unbroken Circle Society.
The Legacy Society is designed to recognize those individuals whose gifts will benefit BCM in the future through estate gifts or other planned giving opportunities.
For Businesses and Organizations
Listed at level in Donor Display at Museum and on website
One-day Museum passes to share with others
Opportunity to purchase a limited number of Festival tickets at lowest available price
Family membership card that allows unlimited entry to BCMM, and other associated member benefits
Individual Smithsonian membership
Invitation to special exhibit openings
Discount on select events and advance purchase opportunities
Complimentary Festival weekend pass
Single discounted rental at Museum (based on availability)