A special exhibit will be at the Green McAdoo Cultural Center and Museum through November 25th, called “I Have a Voice: Tennessee’s African-American Musical Heritage.” The exhibition is organized by the Tennessee State Museum and has traveled across the state, and gives a snapshot of Tennessee’s rich African American musical heritage and its influence on worldwide musical genres.
The Volunteer State has been the birthplace of some of the most influential music in the world, from the Beale Street blues clubs in Memphis, to the R&B scene on Nashville’s Jefferson Street and the jazz in Knoxville’s Gem Theatre.
The history of African American music follows the hardship of slavery in America. American slaves adapted their African ancestors’ music to hand clapping, singing, the fiddle and the African– derived banjo.
Expressing their sorrows from bondage, and joy for their ultimate deliverance, these enslaved persons found an original, musical voice sung in their spirituals and folk music. This voice has left a monumental cultural stamp on American music, including blues, ragtime, jazz, gospel, rhythm and blues, rock and roll, and soul music. In turn, this music has influenced and enriched music around the world.
The exhibit introduces viewers to many famous Tennessee music legends — Bessie Smith, who was nicknamed the “Empress of the Blues;” B.B. King, often referred to as the “King of the Blues;” Grand Ole Opry star DeFord Bailey; and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Tina Turner. The exhibit gives visitors a chance to hear the voices of the many Tennessee African American men and women who made their mark on American music from ragtime to Motown.
The Green McAdoo Cultural Center and Museum is located at 101 School Street in Clinton and is open Monday through Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm, and closed on Sunday. For more information, visit www.greenmcadoo.org or call 865-463-6500.