When Fiddlin' John Carson began playing on Atlanta's WSB in 1922, he created a musical genre today known as country music. Thomas Dorsey may have written bawdy tunes for Georgian Ma Rainey, but he is best known today as the father of gospel music. Ray Charles merged his deep gospel roots with rhythm and blues to create soul music. Georgia's TLC took the "edge" off urban music with the hip-hop ballad Waterfalls.
History of the Georgia Music Hall of Fame
With the dominance of New York, Los Angeles and Nashville in the music world, Lieutenant Governor Zell Miller thought that honoring Georgia's significant contribution to the industry was a good idea. Although the first election of music star to the Hall would occur in 1979 (it was Ray Charles, fittingly), it would be almost 20 years before the physical Hall of Fame was created.
Macon, which many of the honored artists had called home at least for some part of their lives, offered property downtown. Other cities made competitive bids as well. Once the authority selected the Macon property, plans were approved and construction on the Hall began in 1994. In 1996 the building opened with a gala celebration which included the 18th Annual induction of artists (Mac Davis and the Atlanta Rhythm Section).
Visiting the Georgia Music Hall of Fame
Two sections, the gospel "chapel" section and Gretsch Theater sections have video presentations. In the Gretsch section, visitors can cheer for their favorite genres and artists and the system will play selections based on the loudest cheers. Tune Town's "church" recounts the development of gospel music, especially the contributions of Thomas Dorsey. In a touching moment during the film, Dorsey relates the story behind his most successful gospel song, Take My Hand, Precious Lord (both his wife and young daughter had just died).
Skillet Licker Cafe may look like a place to eat, but inside the tables and walls are displays on Georgia's rich history of country, folk, bluegrass and "old-time" music. In this area visitors are introduced to legendary Fiddlin' John Carson, whose broad-based appeal made him a popular star on Atlanta's WSB and is generally considered to be the father of country music. The display takes visitors up to modern-era county, with Marietta, Georgia's Travis Tritt, Trisha Yearwood (Monticello, Georgia) and Alan Jackson (Newnan, Georgia).
Atlanta's contributions to the music of the 1950's and 1960's is presented in the Coca-Cola Drug Store. Vintage Vinyl concentrates on Southern Rock and Urban music.
For the kids
Inside the 2,400 square foot Billy Watson Music Factory kids get to learn about creating music in a multimedia and interactive area. They can hear how "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" might sound if it were played by a jazz musician or a rock 'n roll band, or they can play a musical selection, then highlight one of the instruments in the selection.
This area gives Georgia Music Hall of Fame curator Joseph Johnson a place to exhibit pieces of the museum's vast collection that have not made it into "Tune Town" organization style or highlight a traveling show.
Why should you visit?
Why should you return?
Displays are frequently rotated.
Location: Downtown Macon
Directions: I-16, Exit 2. From I-16 West turn left. From I-16 East turn right. Cross the Otis Redding Memorial Bridge and travel .2 miles to the entrance on the left.
200 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Macon, GA 31201
478-750-8555 or 888-GA-ROCKS
Cost: Moderate. Parking is free, with plenty of space for large groups.
Time: Allow 2 hours
Date added: May 15, 2004
Last update: May 22, 2004
Other Attractions in Macon
Ocmulgee Indian Mounds
Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History
Southeastern Railroad Museum
Gone With The Wind Movie Museum
Lee and Gordon's Mill
Margaret Mitchell House
Union County Courthouse Museum
Marietta/Cobb Museum of Art
Kennesaw Civil War Museum
Chieftains Musuem / Major Ridge Home
Rome Area History Museum
The Martha Berry Museum
Crown Gardens & Archives
Allatoona Lake Visitor's Center
Marietta Museum of History
Etowah Indian Mounds State Park
Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum
New Echota State Park
Carter Library and Museum
Dahlonega Gold Museum
Funk Heritage Center