Kentucky Music Heritage Association

New Not-For-Profit Group Intends to Build Museum for All Music Styles

The formation of the Kentucky Music Heritage Association, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the creation of a museum to document and showcase of Kentucky's music heritage, has been announced in Louisville.

Stephen Ulrich, President of the Ulrich Production Group, a Louisville-based television production company, and Paul Moffett, editor of Louisville Music News, are taking immediate steps to establish the membership-based association, including the incorporation of the association and the establishment of a membership process. Their plan is to file for 501( c )3 tax-exempt status immediately.

"The wide range of Kentucky music is not well-known, even to citizens of Kentucky," Ulrich said. "We are going to include every style, from gospel to rock, country to jazz, big band to ragtime, barbershop to jug band, blues and bluegrass, rap and R&B. It's all here, and we will showcase it to the country and the world with the museum."

Moffett added "Kentucky has been the state where the music was born but then the musicians went somewhere else and got famous. Think about Lionel Hampton; Rosemary Clooney; Jimmy Raney in the jazz era; the Everly Brothers; Tom T. Hall; Bill Monroe and in the late Forties and early Fifties - they all went somewhere else and got famous. Ragtime and jug band music both began in Louisville. We want to bring that all back home to one site."

Kentucky already has several museum and memorial displays featuring various musical styles or specific individuals, including the Bluegrass Museum in Owensboro, the Kentucky Country Music Museum in Renfro Valley and the development of the Everly Brothers displays in Central City and Bill Monroe memorial in Rosine. Ulrich applauds those efforts and notes that "the KMH Museum will serve as a `sampler' museum for all those other destinations in the state. You like bluegrass? We'll have information about and directions to the Bluegrass Museum. Like country music? Here's how to find Renfro Valley and so on."

"Lots of folks first come to Kentucky by way of Louisville; so we're the gateway to Kentucky in a sense. This museum will just add to that," he asserts. The location of the museum has not yet been determined, but Ulrich thinks it will be in downtown Louisville, either on 4th Street or in the museum district on Main. It will include one or more performance spaces and possibly a restaurant.

"We also have plans to focus on eras like the `60s, when the Monarchs, Soul, Inc., and Cosmo and Counts were trying to make the big leap to national fame. Then there were the bluegrass and newgrass folks in the `70s and `80s as well as the various rockers - punk, hardcore, big hair - in the `80s and `90s. The list just goes on and on and on." Moffett noted. "A lot of those folks are still around and still interested in making a splash in the business and we think that they're exactly who will help put this together."

Besides specific eras, the museum will be built around musical styles as well as individual acts or performers. In addition, various related fields, such as radio and television, will be highlighted, with "air checks" from stations available for listening.

The primary tool for documenting and showcasing the music will be video which can also be used in other formats and media distribution systems. A related website will also be created.

"Television is the marketing tool of the 21st Century," the Emmy-winning Ulrich states, "and we want to market Kentucky music to the rest of the country and the world, so everyone will know where it all came from."

Fundraisers, including membership building dinners, live shows and on-air auctions are all in the plan. Ulrich, who was a senior Vice President at the old Channel 15, says that the money is available and the interest is, too. "There are still lots of folks around the state who were involved in one kind of music or the other over the years and we intend to involve as many of them as we can, including current stars like Montgomery Gentry, the Kentucky Headhunters, Larnelle Harris, Billy Ray Cyrus, the Happy Goodmans, Prince Philip Mitchell and others. They all have an interest in seeing that what they have accomplished gets its proper honor and respect," he maintains.

Moffett notes that Louisville Music News' large collection of back issues, all focused on Louisville and Kentucky music, will constitute a valuable resource for identifying various acts and styles and for providing background information. Currently, complete collections of the paper exist at the U of L School of Music, the Louisville Free Public Library and at the Country Music Museum in Nashville.

Individuals interested in joining the Association can call the Louisville Music News at 502-893-9933 for more information.