Willie Nelson’s hand-written song “Crazy” (1961) in Library of Congress


The Library of Congress and the Country Music Association (CMA) announced a day-long program for the CMA Board of Directors at the nation’s library, including a comprehensive tour of the historic Jefferson Building, an extensive orientation to the Library’s music, sound recording, and folk collections focusing on Country Music, and a concert in the Coolidge Auditorium.

Country Music and its roots are well-represented in the Library’s music collections, including rare gems such as “The Wreck of the Old ’97” sung by Fred Lewey and recorded by Robert W. Gordon in Concord, North Carolina (1925); the first recording of “Tom Dooley” sung by Frank Proffitt in Beech Mountain, North Carolina (1940); copyright deposits of handwritten lead sheets by Country Music greats before they became famous, such as “I Fall to Pieces” by Hank Cochran and Harlan Howard (1960), “Crazy” by Willie Nelson (1961), “Okie from Muskogee” by Merle Haggard and Roy Edward Burris (1969), and “You’re Lookin’ at Country” by Loretta Lynn (1970); the Louisiana Hayride collection, and much more.

The purpose is both to build on the Library’s already unparalleled collections of sound recordings, moving image, and printed music collections with a more robust presence of the Country Music genre, and to further the Library’s goal of maximizing access and awareness of its collections to music scholars and music lovers around the world. The day’s activities are designed to lay the groundwork for future joint efforts that may include the acquisition and preservation of Country Music collections, online presentations, and educational outreach.

“The genre of Country Music could not be better suited to the Library’s mission of acquiring, preserving, and providing access to America’s culture and stories,” said Librarian of Congress James H. Billington.

“Country Music is a record of American history and America’s stories.  I cannot think of a more appropriate collaboration than to expand the presence of Country Music and its reflection of the American experience to the global users of this historic and unrivaled collection,” said Steve Moore, Chairman of the CMA Board of Directors.


In addition to Country Music, the Library’s music collections encompass virtually all genres: classical, jazz, folk, gospel, blues, rock, and hip-hop.  There are original manuscripts of European masters such as Bach, Mozart, Beethoven and Brahms, as well as those of American masters such as John Philip Sousa, George and Ira Gershwin, Aaron Copland and Leonard Bernstein. The vast collection of traditional music includes the repertoires of early bluesmen Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters, and field recordings of diverse folk music traditions. The Library’s sound recording collection spans the more than 100 years of recording history, from the first cylinder recordings of the 1890s up to the most recently released albums in every musical format.

Story Tellers and Story Keepers: Creating and Preserving Country Music

The Library of Congress and the Country Music Association (CMA) are working to celebrate, preserve, and share the singular role of Country Music in American culture with a global audience. Country Music is a true storyteller’s genre, chronicling American cultural, economic, and social ups and downs for nearly a century. Building on the historic support of Country Music by both institutions and the Library’s vision of global access to its unparalleled collections, the Library and the CMA seek to ensure that the milestones and contributions of this uniquely American art form are preserved and recorded for future generations both in America and around the world to study, understand and enjoy.

To demonstrate the reach and impact of the genres, the CMA Board of Directors is bringing a line-up of some of Country Music’s brightest stars to the the Coolidge Auditorium in the Library’s Jefferson Building for a special invitation-only performance of historic songs and contemporary hits on the evening of March 9. Kix Brooks of Brooks & Dunn, Lorrie Morgan, and John Rich of Big & Rich will take the stage along with noted songwriters Victoria Shaw and Bob DiPiero for a one-of-a-kind collaboration and performance of Country hits.

CMA will commemorate the event by donating a leather-bound DVD collection of four decades of CMA Awards broadcasts, anniversary television specials, and the most recent jewel in CMA’s TV coffers, the annual “CMA Music Festival: Country’s Night to Rock,” to the Library’s collection. It is a complete musical j! ournal of the Country Music format: the music, the stars, the themes that have defined the genre for 40 plus years.

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