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Soldier’s Joy: A Fiddle Fit for Roy Acuff

Watch to learn more from Vince Gill and the Museum's Mick Buck about Roy Acuff's treasured fiddle.

Vince Gill, out of fondness and admiration for Grand Ole Opry star and fellow Country Music Hall of Fame member Roy Acuff, has donated one of Acuff’s primary fiddles to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s permanent collection. The instrument is on display now in the spotlight exhibition Soldier’s Joy: A Fiddle Fit for Roy Acuff.

Acuff treasured the fiddle, rescued from a bombed-out music store in Frankfurt, Germany, by American soldiers in the waning days of World War II. The soldiers sent it to Acuff, their favorite country music performer, and he liked the tone and made it his main fiddle for many years. Gill, who became friends with Acuff at the Opry, acquired it in 2021. The instrument was built in Germany around 1890, and is a copy of the highly prized violins constructed by Austrian luthier Jacobus Stainer in the 1600s.

During World War II, the intermingling of country music-loving Southerners and Americans from all backgrounds in the military service and wartime industries seeded the spread of country music. One of the soldiers who sent the fiddle to Acuff entertained his comrades in the 348th Engineer Combat Battalion by singing Acuff’s songs as the men fought their way across northern Europe.

Watch the video up top to hear more from Vince Gill and Museum curatorial director Mick Buck about the backstory of the fiddle, Acuff's place in history, and the importance of preservation and the Museum’s collection.

Visit Soldier’s Joy: A Fiddle Fit for Roy Acuff in the Museum's galleries to see Roy Acuff's fiddle, and learn more.

In this clip from a 1991 episode of Nashville Now, Country Music Hall of Fame member Roy Acuff talks about Vince Gill with host Ralph Emery.

Explore Soldier’s Joy: A Fiddle Fit for Roy Acuff and the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum's other current exhibits today—click the button below to plan your visit.

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