BRISTOL, Va. — “Orthophonic Joy,” the 1927 Bristol Sessions Revisited CD, will be released to the public May 12.
Tourism officials from Tennessee and Virginia made that announcement Monday night during a reception at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum. The project includes country superstars Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, Marty Stuart, Vince Gill, the Steep Canyon Rangers and others, singing songs recorded during the iconic Bristol Sessions recordings known as the “big bang” of commercial country music.
The unique project was jointly funded by the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development and the Virginia Tourism Corporation. Representatives of both organizations were in the Twin City for a regional tourism summit today at Bristol Motor Speedway.
The recording was formally announced last summer and was originally expected to be released last fall or possibly in early 2015.
“ ‘ Orthophonic Joy.’ It’s nice to finally have the date. It’s May 12,” Rita McClenny, president and CEO of the Virginia Tourism Corporation said, drawing applause from more than two dozen city, state and tourism officials.
“ ‘Orthophonic Joy’ is all rooted back here. We have some great ads that are going to start running next week in the Tennessean [newspaper], in Pandora online, interviews with the artists with Eddie [Grand Ole Opry host Stubbs],” McClenny said. “We have a nice plan and we’re going to go at it hard, pushing Orthophonic Joy and the museum. It’s extremely exciting.”
After the reception, McClenny toured the museum and discussed how the CD release is expected to spur visits there.
“To have world-renowned country artists sing those 1927 songs and bring them to life is really special and I think people are going to eat it up. It’s going to bring it back to life and connect to generations that may not have heard the music,” McClenny said. “On our website we drive all the traffic to the museum and all the promotions we have coming up for ‘Orthophonic Joy’ will do the same. Everybody will have to step in here as part of the musical experience and see all the history that’s here.”
Jennifer Littlejohn, marketing director for the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, said the project will involve more than audio. A film crew has been working for more than a year preparing a documentary about the recordings and their impact.
“As marketers, we’re storytellers looking for ways to tell relevant and meaningful stories to people in effective, efficient ways,” Littlejohn said. “The commitment from the state was to document all of this. To have a crew in the studio documenting artists, interviewing them and asking what this means to them. So we have something to show the world
“You hear it in the songs but to talk to them and hear what the Bristol Sessions did for their career and how it has changed the face of all music, I’m really proud of the work that we’ve done,” she added.
Details about where and when the documentary will air haven’t been finalized.
Littlejohn credited Bristol Convention and Visitor’s Bureau Executive Director Matt Bolas with bringing the two states together on the CD project.
“He really connected the two states of Tennessee and Virginia, through his partnerships and cooperative marketing program, he really opened that door for two states to work together in a way that is really revolutionary,” Littlejohn said.
Leah Ross, executive director of the Birthplace of Country Music, said cooperation has been central to everything that organization does.
“Us working with the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, Believe in Bristol, we’ve learned unless you can bring everybody together, you’re not going to accomplish much,” Ross said. “But when you do bring everyone together you can accomplish so much more. Those partnerships, local and state, have gotten us to where we are today.”
Tour group bookings for the museum are on the rise and expected to increase, Ross said.
State Delegate Israel O’Quinn, R-Bristol, praised the efforts of everyone to open the museum.
“There are great ideas that remain great ideas but never come to fruition. I know we can all name one of those, but this is one of those great ideas we get an opportunity to enjoy. It is a testament to interstate cooperation and the two cities working together,” O’Quinn said.
McClenny said the museum is a vital link in Virginia’s tourism efforts, especially with The Crooked Road and other music-themed attractions.
“When we talk about the journey of country music, it has to start in this place, at this museum,” McClenny said. “When we talk about discovering the music, it has to start right here.”