John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in partnership with The Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts today announced the artist roster for Country: A Celebration of America’s Music, a festival that will run March 20 – April 9, 2006. The festival, created in partnership with The Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum with honorary co-chairs Vince Gill and Emmylou Harris, will feature performances in most of the performing spaces at the Center.

“Among the powerhouse names that will be performing at the Center during this Festival are Country Music Hall of Fame members Kris Kristofferson, Loretta Lynn, Ray Price and Earl Scruggs and his Family and Friends Band. The Grand Ole Opry, celebrating its 80th birthday this year, will perform in our concert hall for one night only,” said Center Chairman Stephen A. Schwarzman. “Other performers include Asleep at the Wheel and an acoustic super group including Sam Bush, Jerry Douglas, Stuart Duncan, Bela Fleck, Allan Harris, Mark Schatz and Bryan Sutton. We are grateful to The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum for partnering with us to create this incredible festival.”

“This festival honors country music, both past and present, as an important American art form,” Museum Director Kyle Young said. “It is a music that is firmly rooted in tradition, but always moving in new directions. Like the story we tell in the Museum, the Kennedy Center performances will reflect country music’s cultural diversity and its connections to other kinds of music,” he said. “Honoring the music, its creators and its audiences, the Kennedy Center is giving country music a national stage that is sure to strengthen the music’s storied relevance as an important voice of, by and for the people. We couldn’t be more thrilled.”

“Along with jazz, country music is America’s music,” said Kennedy Center President Michael M. Kaiser. “As the nation’s performing arts center, we feel that it is important to celebrate and highlight this uniquely American form of artistic expression.”

Country: A Celebration of America’s Music will include a performance by country legends in the Concert Hall on Friday, March 31; a celebration of the Grand Ole Opry in the Concert Hall on Sunday, March 26; concerts in the Eisenhower Theater, Terrace Theater and Jazz Club focusing on instrumental legends, the roots and regional influences of the art form, and many free performances including the festival finale celebrating the ninth anniversary of the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage, which offers free performances every day of the year.

The festival will include an exhibition of Hatch Show Print posters, made from hand-carved wood blocks, from the archives of the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum. Launched in Nashville in the 19th century, Hatch remained one of America’s six leading letterpress print shops well into the 20th century. From carnivals, circuses and minstrel shows to the Tennessee Valley Authority’s consumer education programs, from Marquis the Magician to Bessie Smith, Louis Armstrong and a litany of Grand Ole Opry stars, and from early B-movies to the phenomenon of Elvis Presley, Hatch posters proclaimed the advent of great musicians, entertainment events and new products across the South. Several education programs will also complement the festival, including a country music guitar master class, a songwriters-in-the-round event featuring professional tunesmiths swapping songs, telling stories and commenting on their craft and a country dance series.

Country: A Celebration of America’s Music will highlight country music’s most accomplished singers, musicians and songwriters, while making connections to the music’s traditional roots and exploring its regional and stylistic variations.

Support for Country: A Celebration of America’s Music has been generously provided by Altria Group, Inc. and The Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation. Dates and artists subject to change.

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