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Volume 26, Number 4 — April 2019

Two New Exhibits at ACMA's Mountain Music Museum

November 05, 2006

The Appalachian Cultural Music Association (ACMA) unveiled two exhibits at their Mountain Music Museum in the Bristol Mall on Thursday, October 26th. The museum houses thousands of artifacts that tell the story of the early days of country, bluegrass and old time music from the Southern Appalachian Region.

Board members and officers of the ACMA were on hand along with several guests including Rita Forrester from the Carter Family Fold to present the two new exhibits to the public.

A harmonica collection that belonged to regional musician Ted Milhorn was dedicated today along with a blue flannel shirt that was purchased from the estate of the late Bill Monroe who was known as "the father of bluegrass music".

"This item from Bill Monroe helps fill a void in the collection at our museum," stated Tim White, president and co-founder of the ACMA. "Bill created bluegrass music in the 1930s and guested many times on the legendary Farm and Fun Time radio show on WCYB radio in Bristol in the 1950s. We are honored to have this item in our museum to pay tribute to Bill." Bill Monroe was born in Rosine, Kentucky on September 13, 1911. He began playing music when he was eight years old being taught by his "Uncle Pen" Vandiver. His brothers and sisters played fiddles and guitars, and Bill wanted to do the same, but since he was the youngest, he was given the mandolin. In 1929 he began performing with his brothers Birch and Charlie in Chicago.In 1934 he formed "The Monroe Brothers," a duo with brother Charlie. They signed with RCA Victor's "Bluebird" label and made their first record on February 17, 1936. Bill later struck out on his own and in 1939 auditioned for the Grand Ole Opry and was hired on the spot. In 1945 Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs joined Monroe's band and bluegrass music as we know it today was born. He was elected into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1970 and in 1989 Bill Monroe won the first Grammy Award in the newly created "Bluegrass Music" category. Bill Monroe passed away September 9, 1996 just 3 days short of his 85th birthday.

Ted Milhorn was born in Sullivan County, Tennessee in the early 1920s. No one was ever sure of his exact birthday because Ted himself did not know. He was raised up in a large family who lived a very hard life just trying to survive. Through his entire life Ted never really owned many things, but one thing he did have was his love and passion for music. Ted would always show up at any and every bluegrass event that he could so he could sing. Many times he was not scheduled to be on these shows but often was invited on stage to sing a tune or two. Ted never played a stringed instrument but he did learn to play the harmonica, and he played it well. "He knew more songs than anyone I ever knew," says White. "To me, that is amazing, Ted could hardly read and write. Ted had the lyrics to thousands of songs memorized! I have never met anyone who loved to sing more than Ted Milhorn did. Ted passed away in 2003. He had always wanted to be remembered for his singing and we are doing that today at the Mountain Music Museum."

White added, "Ted Milhorn never made it 'big' in the music business but he made huge contributions to the music here in our region. The Mountain Music Museum takes pride in remembering everyone who played a role in the history on the music from our region."

Anyone interested in joining the Appalachian Cultural Music Association or becoming involved as a volunteer for the Mountain Music Museum or the Pickin Porch Shows at the Bristol Mall please visit or call 276-645-0035.

A! ExtraTopics: Music