The Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum will unveil a special spotlight exhibit dedicated to singer Lee Greenwood on May 10. Lee Greenwood: American Patriot, which will be located within the museum's permanent exhibit on the third floor, will incorporate costumes and other artifacts spanning Greenwood’s 50 years of musical activity. The exhibition will run through April 25, 2014.
Lee Greenwood: American Patriot
traces the artist’s personal and professional life from his musical childhood in
California to his award-winning music career. The exhibit also places a special
focus on Greenwood’s most beloved song, “God Bless the USA,” and his work with
military and veterans organizations.
Melvin Lee Greenwood was born October 27, 1942, and raised by his grandparents on their farm near Sacramento, California. He learned to play piano and saxophone as a child and quickly became a skilled entertainer. By the time he graduated from high school, Greenwood had learned to play most of the instruments in the school band.
In the early 1960s, Greenwood began working the Nevada casino lounge circuit. In 1979, Larry McFadden, Mel Tillis’s bandleader, heard Greenwood perform. McFadden arranged for Greenwood to record some demo sessions in Nashville, and that break led to Greenwood’s recording contract with MCA Records in 1981 and his work with producer Jerry Crutchfield.
Greenwood scored 20 Top Ten hits between 1983 and 1990. Among them were the chart-toppers “Somebody’s Gonna Love You,” “Going, Going, Gone” and “Dixie Road.” He has earned numerous industry awards, including Male Vocalist of the Year for the Academy of Country Music (1983), Male Vocalist of the Year from the Country Music Association (1983 and 1984) and a Grammy for Top Male Vocal Performance in 1985 for “I.O.U.” He also took home the 1985 CMA Song of the Year award for “God Bless the USA.”
This year marks the 30th anniversary of “God Bless the USA.” Composed in 1983, it became a Top Ten country hit for Greenwood in 1984. The tune is one of America’s most popular and recognizable patriotic songs, thanks, in part, to its popularity during the 1991 Persian Gulf War and during the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on America. For his patriotic songs and his work with the armed forces, including more than 30 USO tours, Greenwood has been honored with the prestigious National Patriot’s Award, presented by the Congressional Medal of Honor Society. In November 2008, President George W. Bush appointed Greenwood to a six-year term as a council member on the National Endowment for the Arts.
In the mid-1990s, Greenwood began performing almost daily at the Lee Greenwood Theater in Sevierville, Tennessee. The residency lasted five years. Since then, he continues to tour, record and write new material. His latest EP, I Want to Be in Your World, was released in 2011 for Tate Music Group. He also devotes substantial time to numerous charitable causes.
Among the artifacts on display in Lee Greenwood: American Patriot are:
- Awards presented to Greenwood from United States military units and veterans groups
- Stage wear, including a red, white and blue American-flag-design leather jacket, and a fringed leather jacket with Native American beadwork
- Letter from President George H.W. Bush, thanking Greenwood for participating in Bush’s 1989 Inaugural ceremony.
- Greenwood’s Henri Selmer Paris saxophone, made in France
- Greenwood’s Grammy, CMA and ACM awards
- Greenwood’s honorary Doctor of Humanities degree from Cumberland University and his honorary Doctor of Public Service degree from Lincoln Memorial University
Other current spotlight exhibits focus on ABC’s Nashville, Garth Brooks, Jack Greene, Minnie Pearl, Hargus “Pig” Robbins, Connie Smith and Dottie West.
Accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum is operated by the Country Music Foundation, a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) educational organization chartered by the state of Tennessee in 1964. The museum’s mission is the preservation of the history of country and related vernacular music rooted in southern culture. With the same educational mission, the foundation also operates CMF Records, the museum’s Frist Library and Archive, CMF Press, Historic RCA Studio B and Hatch Show Print®.
More information about the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum is available at countrymusichalloffame.org or by calling (615) 416-2001.
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