Do you love music? Do you wish there were a museum dedicated to the favorite stars of your favorite kind of music? Is your favorite kind of music not rock and roll, country, soul, rap, or some of the other more popular kinds of music of today? Do you think there needs to be a museum honoring musicians who seek to honor Jesus Christ and His death on the cross for the sins of mankind and resurrection through gospel music? If you answered yes to the above questions, you might want to consider a visit to the Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, in the theme park, Dollywood.
According to the official website of the museum at http://www.sgma.org, the museum exists to for the historic preservation of Southern Gospel music and its message. The website states that the music acts as a musical arm of Christ’s church, without regard to denomination. It was opened on April 17, 1999 in Dollywood.
Some of the inductees into the Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame include James Blackwood, of the legendary Blackwood Brothers, Les Beasley of the Florida Boys, Wendy Bagwell of Wendy Bagwell and the Sunliters, Jimmie Davis, songwriter Alfred E. Brumley, Bill Gaither, and Jake Hess. Others honored have included Glen Payne, Roger Bennett, and George Younce of the Cathedrals and other groups, R.W. Blackwood of the Blackwood Brothers, pianist Anthony Burger, Danny Gaither, Bill Gaither’s late brother; Gloria Gaither, Bill’s wife; Howard and Vestal Goodman, singer and songwriter Squire Parsons, and many others.
The Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame does more than induct those who it honors into its museum and give information about them on a descriptive bronze plaque. It also has thousands of items of memorabilia, such as a replica of the Blackwood Brothers’ original bus used for traveling, clothing worn by the artists, and a gift shop. There is an animatronic quartet that sings, Give the World a Smile. There are interactive sound clips and videos. There is also a gift shop online. Visitors can buy videos, CD’s, books, memberships to the Southern Gospel Music Association, or donate to the museum.
Starting in 2004 the museum is closed every year when new members are inducted. There are musical performances all day, as the new members are inducted. When the late Roger Bennett was inducted, the last group he sang for, wrote songs for, and played the piano for, Legacy Five, sang, Strike Up the Band, which is about a believer going home to be with Jesus after he dies.
The bronze plaques of everyone inducted tell about their lives and careers. For example, Jimmie Davis overcame poverty to become the governor of Louisiana twice, and was an accomplished songwriter and singer. His song, You Are My Sunshine, was recorded 350 times. His best known gospel song was Someone to Care. He is also in the Country Music Hall of Fame. James Blackwood was a member of the Blackwood Brothers, one of the most popular Southern Gospel groups of all time, and a group that affected numerous popular singers and groups, including Elvis. Bill Gaither is known as one of the best and most popular Southern Gospel singers and songwriters ever, both for singing with his wife, Gloria, and the group, the Gaither Vocal Band. Some of his earlier hits were The King is Coming, Because He Lives, and He Touched Me. Roger Bennett played piano, wrote songs, and sang for the Cathedral Quartet for years with George Younce and Glen Payne. He also formed Legacy Five. Younce and Payne also sang for other groups before the Cathedrals, with Younce once singing for the Florida Boys.
The next time you’re in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, you might want to visit the Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame, especially if you visit Dollywood anyway.
Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame, no author listed, Sgma.org
Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame, no author listed, Wikipedia.org
Pigeon Forge Forum: Dollywood Southern GospelMusic Hall of Fame, no author listed, Tripadvisor.com