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Music Hall of Fame and Carnegie Hall join forces


The Register-Herald

LEWISBURG, W.Va.  — Standing amid an impressive array of memorabilia in Carnegie Hall’s Museum Gallery, Ali Johnston explained that the new partnership between the Lewisburg landmark and the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame is a “win-win” situation for both.

Forged in August, the partnership means that Carnegie Hall is now the permanent home of the Hall of Fame’s physical exhibit, “The Art & History of WV Music.” This is a display of artwork, photographs, show posters, stage clothes, instruments, recordings and other memorabilia that will change periodically, providing fresh treasures for visitors and residents to discover.

Those visiting the exhibit now will find such readily recognizable gems as a glittering, concert-ready gown worn by Hall of Fame inductee Kathy Mattea and the fiddle played on special occasions by West Virginia’s late U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd. Also on display are numerous framed vinyl records, movie posters and broadsheets, photographs and even a vintage boxed “Hollywood Squares” board game. (The TV show’s host, West Virginia’s own Peter Marshall, is also a Music Hall of Fame inductee.)

Among the quirkier bits of memorabilia on display are a white satin jacket bearing the likeness of “America’s Polka King,” the late Frankie Yankovic of Tucker County, along with his brightly painted wooden 1950s-era bandstand.

Johnston, Carnegie’s marketing director, said she is drawn to the Bill Withers display, as she is a big fan of his music. The singer/songwriter from Slab Fork was a member of the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame’s first class of inductees in 2007.

Like all Carnegie Hall exhibits, the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame display is open to the public from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Admission is free.

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Carnegie Hall and the Hall of Fame initially made a connection when the venerable Lewisburg venue hosted a Little Jimmy Dickens tribute concert in January, Johnston noted. Dickens was one of the state’s most beloved and acclaimed musicians and was also a member of the 2007 Hall of Fame inductee class.

“That event started the conversation,” Johnston said of the tribute concert. “The Hall of Fame was involved in the tribute, and since they needed a gallery space for their memorabilia, everything just sort of fell together. This is their only exhibit space, and we really like having this destination attraction to draw in visitors.”

The Museum Gallery, where the exhibit is housed, is just to the right of Carnegie’s main auditorium. That means it’s convenient to the recently relocated box office and retail area, which may be accessed through the entrance sheltered by the building’s iconic pillared portico.

As a new “destination space,” the Music Hall of Fame exhibit will be open during Carnegie Hall’s annual Taste of Our Towns (TOOT) street festival on Oct. 14, Johnston confirmed. Free guided tours of Carnegie will be offered that Saturday as well, she said.

• • •

Along with the memorabilia exhibit, the partnership between the two entities has already begun bringing exciting concerts to Carnegie Hall, curated by the Music Hall of Fame.

The first such concert, Friday evening, featured regional favorites The Carpenter Ants, Nick Freeman, Jim Costa, Julie Adams and the Bob Thompson Trio.

“The next concert in the series that will be held here is scheduled for January,” Johnston noted. “It will provide a preview of the Hall of Fame’s upcoming inductees.”

The 2018 class of inductees includes Hasil Adkins, Ann Magnuson, Michael W. Smith, Fred “Sonic” Smith, The Morris Brothers and Frank Hutchison. A list of those who have been secured for the January concert is not yet available, Johnston said.

The biannual co-produced concerts will serve as fundraisers for both the Music Hall of Fame and Carnegie Hall.

“It’s a win-win,” Johnston said.

Headquartered in Charleston, the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame is a nonprofit organization dedicated to documenting and preserving the contributions West Virginians have made to music.

For more information about the Hall of Fame, including a complete roster of inductees, with brief biographies for each, visit

For more information about Carnegie Hall, visit or call 304-645-7917.

Email: [email protected]

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