Smithsonian Exhibition Explores Roots Music Traditions


May 31, 2012

Smithsonian Contact: Miriam Keegan, 202.633.3123; 

 Smithsonian Exhibition Explores Roots Music Traditions 

 York, SC - The McCelvey Center, a Culture and Heritage Museum, in cooperation with the SouthCarolina Humanities Council, will explore America’s roots music as it hosts the local showing of New Harmonies: Celebrating American Roots Music, a Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibition. New Harmonies will be on view beginning Saturday, June 16, 2012 at 1:00 pm with a ribbon cutting ceremony and festivities throughout the day including a 4:00 pm Songwriters’ Special Concert and concluding with a 7:00 pm Grand Ole McCelvey evening concert in the Lowry Family Theater.  New Harmonies will continue through Saturday, July 28 with a grand-finale concert celebration with the WBT Briarhoppers.

When you stop and listen, you quickly realize that music is all around us -- at a local festival, at a dance hall on a Saturday night, or on your radio or your .mp3 player. Whether you’re hearing blues, country western, folk, or gospel, American roots music reveals the American story – peoples reshaping themselves in a new and changing world. As Americans from a variety of heritages shared cultural influences, musicians found new ways to play unique sounds learned from new neighbors on traditional instruments. The inevitable intermingling of musical influences created exciting new sounds – new American music. 

The McCelvey Center and the surrounding community has been expressly chosen by the South Carolina Humanities Council to host New Harmonies: Celebrating American Roots Music as part of the Museum on Main Street project – a national/state/local partnership to bring exhibitions and programs to rural cultural organizations. 

Through a selection of photographs, recordings, instruments, lyrics and artist profiles, New Harmonies: Celebrating American Roots Music will explore the distinct cultural identities of American roots music forms. The exhibition will examine the progression of American roots music, as rich and eclectic as our country itself. Other musical genres profiled include zydeco, tejano, bluegrass and klezmer. 

“New Harmonies allows us the opportunity to explore this fascinating aspect of our own region’s musical history and we hope that it will inspire many to become even more involved in the cultural life of our community,” said Michael Scoggins, CHM historian.  “We have supplemented the exhibition with items from our own collections and have borrowed artifacts from the public.  In addition, a series of public programs and lectures will  compliment the Smithsonian exhibition.” (A separate document of programs is attached, along with an image and script.)

New Harmonies: Celebrating American Roots Music is part of Museum on Main Street, a unique collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES), state humanities councils across the nation, and local host institutions. To learn more about New Harmonies and other Museum on Main Street exhibitions, visit

SITES connects millions of Americans with their shared cultural heritage through a wide range of art, science and history exhibitions. State humanities councils, located in each state and U.S. territory, support community-based humanities programs that highlight such topics as local history, literature and cultural traditions. “The McCelvey Center and the Culture & Heritage Museums serve the local community by creating exhibits and programs that greatly value our natural, historical, and cultural heritage,” said Carey Tilley, newly appointed Director of the Culture & Heritage Museums.  Carey Tilley will be available from 2-4pm on Saturday, June 16 to meet and greet those in attendance to the opening festivities.

Support for Museum on Main Street has been provided by the United States Congress.  New Harmonies is sponsored locally by WRHI and Interstate 107 Radio.

The McCelvey Center is located at 212 East Jefferson Street in York, SC and is open Monday through Friday and the second Saturday of each month from 10:00 am until 4:00 pm.  Admission is free.