A! Magazine for the Arts

Birthplace of Country Music and Doyle Lawson honored with Tennessee Governor's Arts Awards

October 26, 2021

The Birthplace of Country Music is among the recipients of the Tennessee Governor’s Arts Leadership Award in part for the organization’s role in preserving the Bristol region’s rich music culture and the legacy of the historic 1927 Bristol Sessions recordings.

“We sincerely thank Governor and First Lady Lee and the Tennessee Arts Commission for recognizing BCM’s hard work and contributions to the arts,” said BCM Executive Director Leah Ross. “This is a great achievement for our organization, and we are honored to have been chosen.”

Located in historic downtown Bristol, Tennessee-Virginia, BCM is the parent nonprofit of the Birthplace of Country Music Museum, the annual Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion music festival, and WBCM Radio Bristol. BCM has emerged as one of the most distinguished cultural institutions in the Northeast Tennessee/Southwest Virginia region, having earned national recognition for its innovative museum model and multifaceted programming.

For more than two decades, BCM has remained devoted to preserving and telling the story of Bristol’s critical role in the history and development of country music, while also creating new opportunities and exposure for contemporary artists and audiences to explore the evolving sounds of the region. BCM continues to celebrate the extraordinary musical legacy of the 1927 Bristol Sessions, where the landmark first recordings of the legendary Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers were made, while simultaneously moving into the future as an ambitious arts and economic leader in its community and region. Bristol was designated by Congress as the “birthplace of country music” in 1998.

Congratulations are in order for Doyle Lawson, who was also recognized with the Governor’s Distinguished Artist Award. The Sullivan County native is revered as one of the most influential bluegrass musicians and bandleaders in the genre’s history, with an illustrious career that spans nearly six decades. Nashville’s Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood and Carla Thomas of Memphis were also recognized within the same category.

The Tennessee Governor’s Arts Award is the state’s highest honor in the arts. Since 1971 the Governor’s Arts Awards have celebrated those who have made outstanding contributions to the state’s cultural life.

“Tennessee has a rich artistic heritage, and we are proud of these outstanding recipients who are leaders in the arts across our state,” said Gov. Lee in a previously released statement. “Maria and I congratulate each of them, and we are proud of their accomplishments.”

The Governor’s Arts Awards are presented in three different categories - Arts Leadership, Distinguished Artist, and Folklife Heritage. The recipients come from all walks of life and symbolize the tremendous variety of the arts and culture of Tennessee.

“The awards are a testimony to the value that the arts bring to our communities, our schools, and our lives,” said Jan McNally, Chair of the Tennessee Arts Commission.

For a full list of Tennessee Governor’s Arts Award recipients and more information, visit https://tnartscommission.org/governors-arts-awards/2021-award-winners/.

For more information about the Birthplace of Country Music, visit. chttp://BirthplaceOfCountryMusic.org.