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Rockabilly Exhibition (pending funding)

Museum Awarded NEH Grant to refine plans for Rockabilly Exhibition

Arkansas State University Museum is delighted to announce the receipt of a grant in the amount of $39,983 from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH, Planning Grant category).

The NEH grant will enable ASU Museum to develop conceptual plans and project costs for a long-term exhibit on Rockabilly. As part of the project, the Museum will also explore ways to facilitate the increasing number of tourists who are looking for "routes to roots music" in the region. Here is the A-State news release about the NEH Grant award.

Tentatively named Rockabilly! Musical Lens on the 1950s, the exhibition in planning will appeal to people of all ages and highlight the role of Northeast Arkansas in the rise and spread of this highly popular music.

The distinctive style of music known as Rockabilly merged elements of Rhythm & Blues (R&B) and Country/"Hillbilly" music. Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Conway Twitty, and Roy Orbison are among the most widely known Rockabilly stars who performed live to audiences in Northeast Arkansas. An extraordinary number of musicians born and raised in Northeast Arkansas rose to popularity with their Rockabilly music, including Johnny Cash, Sonny Burgess, Billy Lee Riley, Bobby Lee Trammel, and Larry Donn Gillihan, among others.

Many Rockabilly musicians aired their works on Arkansas radio and performed live in dozens of roadside clubs in small towns and along US 67--now designated the "Rock 'n' Roll Highway" (Arkansas Act 497, 2009). Yet, the clubs and hole-in-the-wall juke joints where the story of Rockabilly unfolded no longer exist, making it hard for Arkansans to tell their story. Rockabilly! will provide a tangible stopping place that fills in the missing history and explores this music sensation in the context of rural Northeast Arkansas. Once the Museum has plans in hand for the exhibit, it will be in a good position to seek the major funding needed to produce and mount it.

To contribute to the project, follow the instructions to the left of this article.

Have Rockabilly memorabilia? Consider making a tax-deductible donation of your Rockabilly artifacts by contacting us via museum@astate.edu.

FB NEH Grant