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Monroe's Mandolin Going to Kentucky
Bill Monroe's battered and scarred mandolin, on which a new American musical genre was created, is going to the late artist's birthplace in Kentucky as a million-dollar musical instrument.Bill Monroe's battered and scarred mandolin, on which a new American musical genre was created, is going to the late artist's birthplace in Kentucky as a million-dollar musical instrument.
A newly endowed foundation in Monroe's hometown of Rosine, Ky., signed a contract last week to pay Monroe's son $1.125 million for the instrument, outbidding the Smithsonian Institution, the Country Music Hall of Fame, and several private collectors.
The group is working to establish a $12 million museum in Rosine, where the "father of bluegrass music" grew up on a farm and learned to play the mandolin. "I think my father would be proud that this legendary instrument that he loved so much is going to the place where he was born and where he is entombed," James Monroe said.
The mandolin has been safely stored in a bank vault in Nashville since Monroe died in 1996 at age 84. It's the one Monroe played almost exclusively during the last 50 years of his career.
"It's the musical equivalent of having the one bat on which Babe Ruth hit all his home runs," said Campbell Mercer, president and executive director of the Bill Monroe Foundation that bought the instrument.
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