Stars Donate Funds To Country Hall

Kenny Chesney, Vince Gill, Gretchen Wilson and Big & Rich are among the many musicians who are donating proceeds from one of their concerts to the...

Kenny Chesney, Vince Gill, Gretchen Wilson and Big & Rich are among the many musicians who are donating proceeds from one of their concerts to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

"I revere this place more than any other," says Gill of the museum. "It's a mecca of so much, of all our histories." Gill is leading the artist portion of the "All for the Hall" fundraising effort. The goal is to create a financial safety net, though no dollar amount or timetable has been set.

Following yesterday's (July 12) announcement of the program, Gill performed Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues" and "Ring of Fire" on one of the late country icon's guitars, a 1968 Martin recently acquired by the Hall of Fame.

"The biggest disservice you can do to an instrument is to lock it away," said Gill, who is president of the museum's board of officers and trustees. "Collectors will buy these instruments and put them in glass cases. They never get played and they lose their soul."

The Hall of Fame opened a new $37 million museum in 2001, which traces the development of country music with video clips and recorded music, exhibits, live performances and public programs. More than a million people have visited the new facility.

"For most of our near 40-year history, we have earned in excess of 90 or 95 percent of our income," said director Kyle Young. "But now the job is just too big for us to handle alone."

Other artists who have agreed to participate so far include Alison Krauss and Union Station, Cowboy Troy, the Del McCoury Band, Suzy Bogguss, Nanci Griffith and several others, Gill said.

"I invited every living soul who plays this music," he said. "The premise is to give away one night of your life to the Hall of Fame."


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