Country Music Hall of Fame


Tammy Wynette: First Lady of Country Music

August 20, 2010 - June 12, 2011

The dramatic life and remarkable career of one of country's greatest singers was examined in this exhibit. Drawing from a wealth of personal and professional memorabilia, the exhibit told the powerful story of the ladylike but tough woman whose talent and determination took her from the cotton fields of Mississippi to the heights of stardom.

Born Virginia Wynette Pugh on May 5, 1942, the Mississippi native wrote and sang unflinchingly honest and autobiographical songs about suffering and heartbreak, strength and survival.  Her powerful yet plaintive voice provided the soundtrack for a generation of American women struggling to reconcile new freedoms and traditional expectations, and her enduring body of work - including 20 #1 hits - continues to resonate with music fans worldwide.  Her achievements were acknowledged formally with her 1998 induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

          Employing a wealth of splendid stage costumes, vintage photos, awards, personal possessions and correspondence, career-spanning audio and video and more, Tammy Wynette: First Lady of Country Music will explore the life and impact of a legendary performer who became a prototype for generations of female country artists. 

           Notable artifacts featured in the exhibit include the following:

  • Several of Wynette's childhood possessions, including a petite hand-painted wooden chair with rush seat; and an ecru embroidered cotton and lace baby bonnet
  • Recipe box and numerous recipes in Wynette's own hand, including directions for fried green tomatoes and ice box lemon pie, which Tammy noted as "my children's favorite"
  • A lead-crystal vase filled with cotton hand-picked by Wynette, which was long a fixture on the singer's coffee table
  • A black, leather-bound appointment book for 1977, given to Wynette by Billy Sherrill, which details her activities during the year.  The journal-like entries note both career events and personal, sometimes humorous anecdotes, e.g.  "August 10, 1977 - Maxine & Cliff went to Gov. mansion with us.  Gov. Blanton took me to kitchen and made me drink 8 oz. glass of cabbage juice."
  • A peek into Wynette's glam closet will feature an array of elaborate beaded gowns, many created by Wynette's long-time designer, Jeff Billings, as well as casual and dressy designer separates, including a teal and russet brocade jacket designed by Oscar de la Renta, embellished with faux leopard fur, embroidery and bold enamel buttons.
  • Numerous awards, including Wynette's 1968-70 Country Music Association awards for Female Vocalist of the Year; her 1967 and 1969 Best Female Country Vocal Performance Grammy awards (for "I Don't Wanna Play House" and "Stand by Your Man," respectively); and her 2000 Academy of Country Music Pioneer Award

            Tammy Wynette: First Lady of Country Music also featured an exclusive interview with country music superstar Faith Hill, who reflects on Wynette's legacy, including Tammy's impact on her own career and her influence on contemporary artists.