Renfro Valley Entertainment Center (#317)
Kentucky music, past and present, is the topic for this edition of One to One as host Bill Goodman welcomes two guests: Robert Lawson, executive director of the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Renfro Valley, and Connie Hunt, CEO and general manager of the Renfro Valley Entertainment Center.
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In the first interview, Lawson discusses Kentucky’s diverse musical history and the origins and purposes of the Hall of Fame. Opened in spring 2002, the Rockcastle County museum offers exhibits about the inductees, a historical timeline, a map spotlighting the Kentucky hometowns of many other past and contemporary performers, galleries for rotating exhibits, and an instrument room and sound booth where visitors can try making some music themselves.
In the second interview, Hunt talks about the center’s long history and previews the 2008/09 season of live concerts and radio broadcasts. The center was founded in 1937 by John Lair, a native of the town of Renfro Valley who went on to become a radio programmer and folk music collector. A traditionalist, Lair was concerned about the Depression-era drift of country music toward the Western influence of cowboy and swing performers like Gene Autry and Bob Wills. He established the famous Renfro Valley Barn Dance, broadcast nationwide on radio, to showcase a more authentic form of country music. Five years after his death in 1985, his heirs sold the Renfro Valley complex to a new partnership of local businessmen. During the 1990s, that group revived the center with new construction, big-name shows, new family attractions, and a television show.