My Homeland: A Guide to Songs About Tennessee

Nov 16, 2012


  MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (ANFINSON)  --  Imagine a database of songs about Tennessee, including recordings, sheet music, books, posters and film, all located in one place and available to the public at the click of a button.  This is what the staff at Middle Tennessee State University's Center for Popular music has been working to make a reality. 

My Homeland: A Research Guide to Songs About Tennessee, brings together collections from John S. Mitchell and Peter S. LaPaglia, as well as holdings from The Center’s archives.

Assistant Director and Archivist, Lucinda Cockrell says the sheer volume of material has made this project quite time-consuming.

You know, we knew there were songs out there, but once we really got into it we were floored by how many there really are.

MTSU was awarded a grant by the Tennessee Historical Records and Advisory Board to fund the project. Cockrell says the original grant proposal accounted for roughly 550 songs, but their research has produced thousands of songs about Tennessee.

Due to copyright restrictions, not all of the songs will be available as recordings, but those that are available will pass through The Center’s state-of-the-art audio lab before hitting the web.

Curator of Recorded Media, Martin Fisher, operates the lab. He is responsible for preserving, transferring and reproducing the recordings. He agreed to demo an exotic Tennessee Waltz he has reproduced, which can be heard on our website.

Teachers and students may be especially eager to waltz on over to the website. Cockrell says they plan on working with teachers to incorporate lesson plans that utilize their song collection.

One teacher from Soddy Daisy, near Chattanooga, who also happens to be John Mitchell who gave us a core of our Tennessee collection... He’s going to put together a lesson plan using math and Tennessee river songs.

Cockrell says the website will also be ideal for lessons on Tennessee history. Students can learn from songs covering everything from the Civil War to the Scopes Monkey Trial.