The living legend known as Kenny Rogers will take part in a special interview at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum beginning at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 16, as part of the festivities surrounding the debut of "Kenny Rogers: Through the Years," a biographical exhibit in the museum’s East Gallery.
The exhibit opens Aug. 15 and is set to continue through June 14, 2015, according to an Aug. 1 media release from the hall of fame. During the "expert-led conversation" with Rogers on Aug. 16, museum personnel report that the hit-maker "will recount memories from throughout his history-making life and career during the interview, which will be held in the museum’s CMA Theater at 2:30 p.m."
Moreover, during Rogers' museum interview, archival photographs and video will supplement the storytelling. Beyond the interview, other "Kenny Rogers: Through the Years" opening weekend programs will include a Songwriter Session with Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member Don Schlitz, who penned Rogers’ signature story song, “The Gambler,” among other hits. Plus, a film screening of 2001’s "Kenny Rogers: Live by Request" will be held Aug. 17.
“Kenny Rogers redefined and elevated country music superstardom in every sense,” said Museum Director Kyle Young via the aforementioned media release. “He blurred traditional genre lines and substantially expanded the core demographics of country music’s audience, all by being true to his unique artistic vision. His versatility is astounding. We could not be more thrilled to share this detailed presentation of his story.”
In addition to his achievements as vocalist and actor, his accomplishments as musician, photographer, author, off-Broadway star, entrepreneur and humanitarian bolster his résumé. To date, Rogers has sold more than 100 million records worldwide and has charted a single in each of the last seven decades—including 21 Billboard No. 1 country songs. According to the RIAA, he has one diamond album, 19 platinum albums and 31 gold albums.
In the awards category, he's earned three Grammys, six Country Music Association awards (including a 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award), eight Academy of Country Music awards—including Entertainer of the Year in 1978—and was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2013.
As an exhibit bonus, a companion book, also titled "Kenny Rogers: Through the Years," will accompany the event. Published by the museum’s Country Music Foundation Press, the collectible tome includes a trove of photos—many of which were previously unpublished—from throughout Rogers’ long career. Dolly Parton penned the book's foreward, which reportedly adds insight into Rogers’ importance from key figures. The title will be for sale at the museum's store and via its website.
Admission: The Aug. 16 event is included with museum admission and is free for museum members; seating is limited and a program pass is required. Those unable to attend in person are invited to listen and watch live online via countrymusichalloffame.org/streaming.
As for the artifacts featured in "Kenny Rogers: Through the Years," it will incorporate awards, costumes, sheet music, memorabilia and more from Rogers’s personal vault, as well as from the collections of frequent collaborators. A sampling of what will be featured includes the following:
- Costume pieces worn and used by Rogers in the five-part Gambler TV movie series, including a fedora and gun belt, a Western-cut jacket, shirt and brocade vest, and a cane with a brass knob;
- A Tony Alamo of Nashville denim outfit, embellished with rhinestones and studs, worn by Rogers as the frontman for Kenny Rogers and The First Edition in the 1970s;
- Dolly Parton’s rhinestone-embellished velvet jacket and dress, which she wore during a performance of “Islands in the Stream” with Rogers on her TV show, "Dolly";
- Dottie West’s Bob Mackie outfit, with bugle beading and Dolcis pumps, worn in performance with Rogers
- A 1970 program from a week of shows featuring both Kenny Rogers and the First Edition and Merle Haggard and the Strangers at the Starlight Theatre in Kansas City, Mo.;
- Sheet music for the Mickey Newbury-penned “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In),” which became the First Edition’s first top-10 song, and “Ruby (Don’t Take Your Love to Town),” a crossover hit for Kenny Rogers and the First Edition written by Mel Tillis;
- A handmade tambourine with Kenny Rogers’ logo burned into the wood, similar to the ones he throws into the crowd at his concerts;
- Assorted cameras used by Rogers, including two Polaroid models, a Calument Scientific Inc. 8" x 10" folding camera and a Linhof Master Technika Classic camera used by Rogers to capture the 58 studio portraits of country artists in his third book of photos, "Kenny Rogers: This Is My Country";
- A paperback novel, part of a series of books inspired by Rogers’ iconic portrayal of the “Gambler” in the popular TV movies, and items that reflect his longtime status as a pop-culture icon.
The "Kenny Rogers: Through the Years" Grand Opening weekend program schedule also features the following:
Saturday, Aug. 16 - 11:30 a.m.
Songwriter Session: Don Schlitz
Don Schlitz launched his career by penning the Kenny Rogers classic “The Gambler.” He also wrote the Rogers' hits “The Greatest” and the Grammy-nominated “You Can’t Make Old Friends.” Schlitz is a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame and has won multiple ACM, ASCAP, CMA, and Grammy awards.Limited seating. Program pass required.
Interview: Kenny Rogers
In celebration of the opening of the exhibit that explores his life and music, Kenny Rogers will share memories and insight into how he parlayed his trademark, husky voice and laid-back sex appeal into a remarkable and diverse career. His broad musical tastes, strong work ethic, and relentless quest for perfection have made him a successful record producer, songwriter, actor, photographer and New York Times bestselling author. Limited seating. Program pass required.
Sunday, Aug. 17 - 2 p.m.
Film Screening: "Kenny Rogers: Live by Request"
In 2001, Kenny Rogers and his band performed a concert in front of a studio audience at the Sony Music Studios in New York City. The concert was broadcast live on the A&E cable network and various radio outlets, and the set list consisted of requests phoned in by fans from around the country. In addition to honoring viewers’ requests for hits like “The Gambler,” “Coward of the Count,” and “Ruby,” Rogers tells stories behind each song and casually chats with each caller in his characteristically warm and candid style. Linda Davis joins him to duet on “Don’t Fall in Love with a Dreamer” and “We’ve Got Tonight.” Included with museum admission. Free to museum members.
"Kenny Rogers: Through the Years" will be accompanied by an ongoing series of programs throughout the exhibit’s duration. These programs are made possible, in part, by grants from the Metropolitan Nashville Arts Commission and by an agreement between the Tennessee Arts Commission and National Endowment for the Arts.
For more information about the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, visit www.countrymusichalloffame.org or call 615-416-2001.
- Video bonus: To see what advice Kenny Rogers would give to today's pop stars, simply access the video embedded with this post.