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New Austin Peay State University exhibit honors country music legend Roy Acuff


Clarksville, TN – Twenty-five years ago, the legendary “King of Country Music” Roy Acuff endowed a Chair of Excellence at Austin Peay State University, allowing the Institution to bring world-renowned artistic talents to campus each year to work with students.

To commemorate that generous gift, the APSU Center of Excellence for the Creative Arts is hosting a special exhibit, “Roy Acuff: Life and Legend” in the Mable Larson Gallery within the University’s Harned Hall. It will run from October 4th–October 29th, and is free and open to the public.

Some of the Roy Acuff items on display at APSU

Some of the Roy Acuff items on display at APSU

“The exhibit will be a mixture of art and artifacts from Roy Acuff’s life,” Christopher Burawa, executive director of the Center of Excellence, said. “We’re going to have photographs of Acuff taken by iconic photographer, such as Robin Hood, one of his jackets and a tie from the Grand Ole Opry, and Dunbar Cave memorabilia. He was the legendary King of Country Music and the generous endower of the Acuff Chair of Excellence.”

Acuff forged a strong bond with the Clarksville-Montgomery County community while at the height of his fame by purchasing Dunbar Cave in the late 1940s. He used the cave, with its natural air conditioning, as a live music venue for his Smoky Mountain Boys band and for several Opry stars at the time.

“This exhibit will also pay tribute to his legacy here in Clarksville,” Burawa said.

Ned Crouch, former executive director of the Custom’s House Museum and Cultural Center, is curating the exhibit, and he said he wants to show to express a bit of the late country music star’s wit and personality.

“This is a sort of taster’s choice, with images and iconography that are associated with him, more or less dealing with his music or music career,” he said.

One highlight of the exhibit will be a rare date book detailing the different gigs Roy Acuff and the Smoky Mountain Boys played around the country during 1947.

“I think it’s going to be a really informative exhibition,” Burawa said. “It’s going to show the range of Acuff’s involvement in music, but also his work within the Clarksville community.”

The Country Music Hall of Fame, the Tennessee State Museum and the Customs House Museum and Cultural Center generously loaned many pieces in the exhibit to APSU.

For more information on the show, contact the APSU Center of Excellence for the Creative Arts at 931-221-7876.


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