Rutherford County’s contribution to musical culture will be on display in a new exhibit at the Heritage Center of Murfreesboro and Rutherford County.
The public opening of “Home Grown to Nationally Known: The Artistic Legacies of Murfreesboro” was held on March 21, and the display remains on exhibit at the center, located at 225 W. College St.
MTSU graduate students majoring in history researched and constructed the exhibit under the guidance of Carroll Van West, director of MTSU’s Center for Historic Preservation and Tennessee State Historian.
The exhibit covers artists from country legend Uncle Dave Macon to indie music sensation and MTSU student Julien Baker. It includes objects and photos from famous artists who have performed or recorded in Murfreesboro over the years, as well as artifacts from the Young’Un Sound Studio that operated near Rockvale in the 1970s.
“With Nashville being so close, [Rutherford County’s musical heritage] is kind of eclipsed by the big Nashville country sound,” said Lane Tillner, a doctoral student from Collierville, Tenn. “But Murfreesboro really has a lot of interesting music.”
Tillner’s primary focus was on Spongebath Records, an independent record label based in Murfreesboro during the 1990s. She said one of her sources was a Facebook group called “Murfreesboro Music Documentary.”
“There were a lot of images there and I was able to get more background information about Spongebath and the bands that were under that label,” said Tillner.
Sherry Teal, a master’s degree candidate from Murfreesboro, focused on early music and gospel acts. Annabeth Hayes, also a master’s degree candidate from Jackson, Tenn., investigated Young’Un Sound Studio, which was founded by session guitarist Chip Young on his farm in 1969.
Also featured in the exhibit are acts that played Murphy Center and the Southern Girls Rock & Roll Camp, a weeklong day camp in which girls who like to rock can express themselves musically. It was founded in July 2003 by MTSU alumna Kelley Anderson and takes place on the university campus each summer.
Tillner said West, who is quite a music aficionado, would like for the display to remain active for at least a few years. She said the experience of working on the display has been very beneficial for the student team that created it.
“It’s very hands-on practical experience,” Tillner said. “It shows that we can take just one little aspect and design this whole exhibit.”
For more information, contact the Heritage Center of Murfreesboro and Rutherford County at (615) 217-8013 or Tillner at firstname.lastname@example.org.