*** This story appeared in the Bristol Herald Courier on Wednesday, March 05, 2008 ***
BRISTOL, Va. ? -- Doyle Lawson wants music fans who make the pilgrimage to the birthplace of country music to have more than a mural or a monument to look at.
That's why the Grammy Award-winning Bristol Tennessee resident is one of 17 members serving on an artistic advisory board for the Birthplace of Country Music Alliance's proposed cultural heritage center project.
The BCMA unveiled the council lineup during a news conference at the Bristol Public Library. The association is trying to raise about $12.5 million to transform a vacant Cumberland Street building into a world-class museum honoring Bristol's musical legacy.
"It will happen. I was part of a core group in Nashville more than 20 years ago that was looking to establish a home for bluegrass music," Lawson said. "We had no home, no representation, no office and no hall of fame. We only had a handful of people who believed in what we could do."
The result of that group's efforts was the International Bluegrass Music Association, Lawson said. It now operates a museum in Owensboro, Ky., offices in Nashville, and hosts an annual fanfest-tradeshow in Nashville.
"We wanted to have a place of our own and through dreams, desire and perseverance, we were able to do it. That's what I expect here, and I expect no less than that," Lawson said.
The artistic council is a mix of musicians, music industry insiders, record and media executives and representatives of affiliated local organizations.
It includes country music star Patty Loveless, bluegrass music icon Ralph Stanley, Grammy Award winner Tim Stafford, folk musician Mike Seeger, country pioneer Bill Clifton, along with Dale Jett and Roni Stoneman, descendants of Bristol Sessions performers the Carter Family and Stoneman Family.
The council also includes representatives of the Country Music Hall of Fame, syndicated public radio program Mountain Stage, record companies Peer International and Rounder Records and Smithsonian Folkways Recordings -a division of the Smithsonian Institution.
"The support of these 17 people adds further validity to what we're doing," said Kevin Triplett, chairman of the BCMA's fundraising efforts. "When people of this quality lend their name and support, it makes other people believers."
Loveless is the only council member who didn't have some previous connection with the alliance, said Fred McClellan, president of the BCMA board of directors.
"Patty is one of those artists who has maintained her roots to this region," McClellan said of the eastern Kentucky native. "She provides us the connection to modern, commercial country music."
McClellan credits Stanley, a longtime Loveless friend, with helping secure her involvement.
Stafford, a founding member of bluegrass band Blue Highway, said he was honored to be involved.
"This is quite a council," Stafford said. "I've told them if they want us to be active, I only live 20 minutes away and to call me."
That involvement could include everything from fundraising or performing to promotions and advice on making the project happen, McClellan said.