Oral History

The Museum's ongoing Oral History Project was officially launched in 1974. Now embracing more than interviews, the collection contains interviews with performers, recording artists, songwriters, and a wide variety of business personnel involved in the country music industry.

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Collection Guide and Descriptive Inventory

Country Music Foundation Oral History Project, 1963-2002 (Bulk 1974-1990)

Collection processed by: Country Music Foundation Staff, 2001-Present

Finding Aid written by: Country Music Foundation Staff, May 28, 2008


Title: Country Music Foundation Oral History Project

Date/Date Range:  1967-2000 (bulk 1974-1990)

Extent:   637 audio recordings; 638 transcripts


Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum, 222 Rep. John Lewis Way S | Nashville, TN 37203. (615) 416-2001


Acquisition Information

CMF staff began collecting tape recorded interviews in 1967, following the opening of the original Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum that year. Since the 1970s, numerous scholars and journalists have donated interviews to the collection.

Access Restrictions

Most of the 666 interviews may be accessed simply by completing a form agreeing to certain restrictions limiting reproduction or third-party access of photocopied transcript pages.  Access to a handful of the interviews owned by CMF requires prior written permission from the interviewee or the interviewee's authorized representative. Access to interviews not owned by CMF varies according to terms of use stipulated by donors of these interviews.


The copyright interests for most interviews in the collection reside with the Country Music Foundation, Inc. For more information, contact the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum.

Preferred Citation

Interview with [interviewee name] by [interviewer name], [interview date] [interview number], in the Country Music Foundation Oral History Project, Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum, Nashville, Tennessee.

Example: Interview with Roy Acuff by Douglas B. Green, 1977 June 1 (OH1), in the Country Music Foundation Oral History Project, Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum, Nashville, Tennessee.


This collection consists of 666 interviews, of which 638 are in standard audiocassette and CD formats identified by accession number. The remaining 28 interviews exist only as transcripts with no sound media. These transcripts are also identified by accession number. Of the 638 recordings in the collection, 28 have sound issues and have not yet been transcribed, though CMF is working toward this end.

Biography / History

To advance its mission of preserving and disseminating the history of country music, the non-profit Country Music Foundation, Inc. (CMF), chartered by the state of Tennessee in 1964, began collecting oral history interviews and other research materials soon after the 1967 opening of CMF's Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum. Interview acquisition increased with the opening of CMF's Library and Media Center in 1972, and CMF's ongoing Oral History Project was officially launched in 1974. Now embracing 666 interviews, the Oral History Collection forms a key component of CMF's Frist Library and Archive, housed in the newer Museum building opened in downtown Nashville in 2001. In 2001 CMF received a substantial preservation and access grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, thus enabling CMF to re-record, transcribe, and catalogue 638 interviews in its Oral History Collection, focusing primarily on interviews conducted specifically for CMF by CMF staff or board members.

As a result, CMF staff members have been able to increase the use of interview materials in Museum and traveling exhibits, school and family programs, print publications, and special educational products such as historic reissues of sound recordings and moving images, while students and professors, music industry personnel, print and broadcast journalists, media producers, and members of the public also enjoy greater ease of access.

The Oral History Collection complements the Museum's extensive holdings, which include artifacts-including more than 800 stage costumes and over 600 instruments-some 200,000 sound recordings that virtually span the history of recorded sound, and other resources: sheet music, songbooks, periodicals including trade publications and fan magazines, books, show posters, films, videotapes, scrapbooks, and business documents.


CMF's Oral History Collection consists of recorded interviews with a wide variety of music industry professionals, together with machine-readable transcriptions of these audio or audiovisual interviews. At first, interviewing focused largely on performers; over the years, the project broadened its coverage of songwriters, record producers, music publishers, promoters for record companies and music publishers, talent bookers, show promoters, and others in the country music industry.


This collection contains materials related to the following subjects. OCLC records and CMF internal catalog records contain additional subject headings for each interview. The list below is a general collection level listing.

African American country musicians -- Biography -- United States.

African American country musicians -- Interviews -- United States.

ASCAP Foundation -- Interviews -- United States.

Bluegrass music -- History.

Bluegrass musicians -- Biography -- United States.

Bluegrass musicians -- Interviews -- United States.

Broadcast Music, Inc. -- Interviews -- United States.

Cajun music -- History.

Comedians -- Biography -- United States.

Comedians -- Interviews -- United States.

Community foundations -- History -- Tennessee.

Composers -- Biography -- United States.

Composers -- Interviews -- United States.

Costume designers -- Biography -- United States.

Costume designers -- Interviews -- United States.

Country Music Association.

Country music -- History.

Country musicians -- Biography -- United States.

Country musicians -- Interviews -- United States.

Disc jockeys -- Biography -- United States.

Disc jockeys -- Interviews -- United States.

Gospel musicians -- Biography -- United States.

Gospel musicians -- Interviews -- United States.

Instrumentalists -- Biography -- United States.

Instrumentalists -- Interviews -- United States.

Journalists -- Interviews -- United States.

Labor union locals -- United States.

Labor Unions -- Interviews -- Officials and employees -- United States.

Lyricists -- Biography -- United States.

Lyricists -- Interviews -- United States.

Motion picture actors and actresses -- Biography -- United States.

Motion picture actors and actresses -- Interviews -- United States.

Museum directors -- Biography -- United States.

Museum directors -- Interviews -- United States.

Music publishers -- Biography -- United States.

Musicians, Cajun -- Biography.

Musicians, Cajun -- Interviews.

Photographers -- Biography -- United States.

Photographers -- Interviews -- United States.

Popular music -- History.

Promoters -- Biography -- United States.

Promoters -- Interviews -- United States.

Radio broadcasters -- Biography -- United States.

Radio broadcasters -- Interviews -- United States.

Radio engineers -- Biography -- United States.

Radio engineers -- Interviews -- United States.

Radio stations -- History -- United States.

Record labels -- History.

Rock music -- History.

Rock musicians -- Biography -- United States.

Rock musicians -- Interviews -- United States.

Rhythm and blues music -- History.

SESAC, Inc. -- Interviews -- United States.

Singers -- Biography -- United States.

Singers -- Interviews -- United States.

Sound recording executives and producers -- Biography -- United States.

Sound recording executives and producers -- Interviews -- United States.

Talent scouts -- Biography -- United States.

Talent scouts -- Interviews -- United States.

Television personalities -- Biography -- United States.

Television personalities -- Interviews -- United States.

Television stations -- History -- United States.

Trade associations -- Biography -- United States.

Trade associations -- Interviews -- United States.

Western swing (Music) -- History.

Women country musicians -- Biography -- United States.

Women country musicians -- Interviews -- United States.

Women executives -- Biography -- United States.

Women executives -- Interviews -- United States.


To view the list of interviews click here. To view a description of each interview, including a brief biography of the person interviewed and a content summary, please click the person's name.  Keyword searches may also be performed to bring up a list of interviews whose biographies or summaries contain the keyword.


To preserve the history of country music, the Museum began a collection initiative in 1967, including the recording of interviews with leading historical figures. Like most not-for-profit cultural institutions, the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum does not have an acquisitions fund, and all of the individuals who have been interviewed for the Museum's Oral History Program have generously donated their time and expertise.

Oral history forms a crucial aspect of the Museum's mission, because interviews provide historical information that can be found nowhere else. Industry publications, fan magazines, radio and TV shows, and recordings tell us a great deal, but they can't supply the behind-the-scenes information provided by the people who made them. In this respect, interviews are perhaps the most important cultural artifacts the Museum preserves.

Recording interviews, however, is only the beginning. What remains is the eternal and expensive privilege of caring for, preserving, interpreting and making the interviews-and the insights they provide-accessible to a wide audience. This obligation, which is a matter of public trust, is what differentiates a museum from a private collector.

The Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum reserves the right to refuse duplication services to anyone at any time.

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