Country Music Hall of Fame Opens Photography Exhibit

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photo courtesy of Country Music Hall of Fame

The Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum recently unveiled a new photography exhibition, The Bradley Barn Sessions. The exhibit features photographs by Fritz Hoffmann from the recording sessions for Country Music Hall of Fame member George Jones’ 1994 album, The Bradley Barn Sessions. The exhibit is free and will be open to the public through 2024 in the museum’s first-floor gallery.

In 1994, MCA Records plotted to return Jones to the country radio charts. Four years had passed since Jones’s last Top 10 hit, his longest dry spell since 1955. The resulting album, The Bradley Barn Sessions, featured Jones performing duets with many country and rock artists, including Mark Chesnutt, Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits, Keith Richards, Leon Russell, Travis Tritt and Trisha Yearwood, as well as Country Music Hall of Fame members Vince Gill, Emmylou Harris, Alan Jackson, Dolly Parton, Ricky Skaggs, Marty Stuart and Tammy Wynette. The sessions took place at historic Bradley’s Barn, a recording studio established by producer and Country Music Hall of Fame member Owen Bradley in the rolling hills of Mt. Juliet, Tennessee.

To document the landmark sessions, MCA hired accomplished photographer Fritz Hoffmann, who attended all 11 days of the sessions. Hoffmann’s photographs capture the camaraderie Jones felt with the guest artists and the relaxed, inspired atmosphere created by producer Brian Ahern. The following year, Hoffmann became the first Western photographer granted long-term residency in Shanghai since the communist revolution in 1949. Hoffmann lived in Shanghai from 1995 to 2008, becoming a contributing photographer for National Geographic and taking assignments across Asia and Europe.

Some photographs on display include:

  • George Jones and Tammy Wynette recording a new version of their 1976 hit “Golden Ring” — marking the first recording in 14 years for the former husband-and-wife duet team.
  • Jones and Keith Richards preparing to record a duet of the Dallas Frazier song “Say It’s Not You.”
  • Jones and Country Music Hall of Fame member Waylon Jennings talking before recording the gospel song “Great Judgment Morning,” which included contributions by Jessi Colter,
  • Ricky Skaggs, Connie Smith, Marty Stuart and Travis Tritt. Recorded while Jones worked on The Bradley Barn Sessions, the track wasn’t released publicly until 2013, when it appeared on Amazing Grace, a compilation of Jones’ religious recordings.
  • Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris and Ricky Skaggs rehearsing “Where Grass Won’t Grow” before recording the song with Jones and Trisha Yearwood.
  • Jones with Leon Russell and Vince Gill as they record the song “The Love Bug.”
    Nancy Jones kissing her husband.

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