Craig Havighurst

Music News Producer

Craig Havighurst is WMOT's music news producer and host of The String, a show featuring conversations on culture, media and American music. New episodes of The String air on WMOT 89.5 in Middle Tennessee on Sundays at 8 am, repeating Mondays at 9 pm.

Getty Images for Americana Music Association

In the latter half of 1997, John Prine spent a string of Nashville afternoons with his friend and record producer Jim Rooney in a suite at Spence Manor, the funky tower hotel on Music Row with the guitar-shaped swimming pool. They were doing what passes for work in Music City, listening to and comparing thoughts about vintage country music duets: George Jones and Melba Montgomery, Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn and Ernest Tubb. And older records still, with Kitty Wells and Red Foley, or Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper.

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John Prine, one of the most influential songwriters in American history and an icon of roots and Americana music, has died at age 73 following more than a week of intensive care in Nashville for COVID-19. He burst onto the songwriter scene as a fully mature artist in 1971 with a self-titled album full of masterpieces, endured through two bouts of cancer, and enjoyed a late career celebration for his incisive, charming 2018 album The Tree of Forgiveness.

Two years ago, a book of biography, art and musical manuscripts was published under the title John Hartford’s Mammoth Collection of Fiddle Tunes. Assembled by his daughter Katie Harford Hogue and musicologists including MTSU Center for Popular Music Director Greg Reish, it was the first-ever public documentation of John Hartford’s prolific composing, culled from 68 hand-written journals spanning 22 years. Now, the same team has brought some of those tunes to a recording.

Laura Partain

In early 2019, Caleb Caudle arrived in Nashville with his wife/manager to settle into a new home and a new chapter in Music City, but it was as if he’d already been here for years. The singer/songwriter didn’t have to set out on a five to ten year plan to build a support community and artistic respect. Instead, he celebrated his arrival by nipping off to the Cash Cabin, one of Nashville’s most storied and exclusive recording sanctuaries, to cut an album with the help of some elite musicians.

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Bonnaroo is postponed. Merlefest and, as of Tuesday, CMA Fest are canceled. The first third of the 2020 music festival season, with all its life and connectivity, has been wiped out by the Covid-19 virus. In this previously unimaginable void, artists have taken to the internet, but mostly as solo actors, gigging for tips. The creators of Shut In & Sing imagined how much festival dynamic they could bring to the crisis.

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