A! Magazine for the Arts

Mayor David Helms speaks about Marion, Virginia's musical heritage at unveiling as Tim White looks on.

Mayor David Helms speaks about Marion, Virginia's musical heritage at unveiling as Tim White looks on.

Marion's Musical Heritage Mural Canvas Unveiled

September 10, 2013

MARION, VA - The Town of Marion, in partnership with Virginia Sweetwater Moonshine Distillery, The Lincoln Theatre, "Song of the Mountains," and the Wayne C. Henderson School of Appalachian Arts, unveiled "Marion's Musical Heritage Mural" canvas Thursday, Sept. 5 on stage at the historic Lincoln Theatre in downtown Marion, Va.

The unusual- shaped canvas measures approximately 2,5 feet by 8 feet, and is scaled proportionate to the Virginia Sweetwater Distillery Building's western wall in the heart of historic downtown Marion where the design will be painted on the structure in the summer of 2014.

The artist of the mural design is Tim White, who painted a similar mural in Bristol Tennessee-Virginia in 1986 which pays tribute to the main players in the historic Bristol Sessions of 1927. Those artists are Jimmie Rodgers, the Carter Family, the Stonemans and Ralph Peer.

Marion's Musical Heritage Mural design pays tribute to several musical artists and others who played a significant role in this Smyth County town's rich musical history.

"The story is a timeline", says White. "It's designed to tell the community's rich and colorful musical history through its people, places, and icons." Moving from right to left, the mural depicts a jar of Smyth County's clear "elixir" (or "spring water", if you prefer). The Art Deco styled General Francis Marion Hotel, built in 1927, is next. The timeline continues by picturing movie projectionist "Shorty" Rogers who worked many years at the historic Lincoln Theatre during its heyday as "one of the finest movie houses in Southwest Virginia," as it was billed. Next is Hobart Smith a legendary old time musician and songwriter from Smyth County who performed many times in Marion. Following along the timeline, Marion's first radio station, WMEV, is pictured along with "Cousin Zeke" Leonard and a tribute to the legendary "Fireman's Jamboree," the radio program hosted for over 30 years on the station. Also pictured is the late Carson Cooper and Bill Harrell, who were legendary musicians from Marion. Images showing the Mountain Dew soft drink logo and Virginia Sweetwater Distillery logo, which both got their starts in Marion, are also featured. On the Main Street end in the design, the iconic marquee of the historic Lincoln Theatre, with White himself performing on the nationally-televised "Song of the Mountains" public television program since it's beginning in 2005, rounds out the design.

"Marion has a very unique history of bluegrass, old time and country music," said Marion's mayor David Helms. "We are proud of our musical past and are extremely proud of the Lincoln Theatre and Song of the Mountains which reaches millions across the United States on PBS."

With the unveiling of the canvas, plans are now underway to raise the money to paint the mural in the summer of 2014. Organizers are seeking sponsorships and donations, from corporations, businesses, organizations, as well as private citizens, with plans to have the mural completed by September of 2014.

For information on how you can contribute to Marion's Musical Heritage Mural project, call the Town of Marion's Office of Community and Economic Development at (276) 783-4113 ext 231 or ext 230. Checks may be made payable to:

Marion's Musical Heritage Mural, c/o The Wayne C. Henderson School of Appalachian Arts, P.O. Box 1005, Marion, VA 24354. The school is a 501 ( c ) 3 non-profit organization.