MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — Middle Tennessee State University’s Center for Popular Music is partnering with other organizations to present the works of legendary country music photojournalist Alan L. Mayor in Nashville, Tennessee.
“The Collection: Alan L. Mayor: A Nashville Retrospective 1974-1999” went on display Wednesday, Sept. 6, and will remain open through Jan. 6, 2024, at Bobby Nashville, located at 230 Fourth Ave. N. in the heart of historic Printers Alley.
The exhibit was created in partnership with the Center for Popular Music, Tinney Contemporary art gallery, the Americana Music Association and The Alan L. Mayor Estate.
“You can definitely see the history of Nashville unfold. It reflects Nashville and the changing music industry,” said Olivia Beaudry, archivist at MTSU’s Center for Popular Music, where the entire Alan L. Mayor Collection has been housed since 2017.
From the 1970s, Mayor established himself on Music Row as the go-to photojournalist of the Nashville music industry, capturing the lives and illustrious careers of Nashville’s pioneering artists. He passed away in 2015.
Over 60 of Mayor’s photos will be on display at Bobby Nashville. The exclusive retrospective takes viewers back to an era when the tapestry of country music was evolving and young talents were emerging. Mayor’s lens chronicled the raw energy of the “outlaw era,” the rise of iconic figures like Dolly Parton and Alan Jackson and countless candid moments.
Many of Mayor’s images encapsulate iconic moments on stage, from Porter Wagoner’s bedazzled suits and Bill Monroe’s big cowboy hat to a duet with Tammy Wynette and George Jones.
Other photographs capture intimate scenes off stage.
“Some of them are very candid,” Beaudry said. “There’s one of Ricky Skaggs and (his wife) Sharon White, with her head on his shoulder, standing in the crowd at The Station Inn.”
Mayor published his only collection of photos, titled “The Nashville Family Album, a Country Music Scrapbook.” His clients included The Tennessean, Nashville Banner and Billboard Magazine as well as industry agencies like BMI, Capitol Records and the Grand Ole Opry, just to name a few.
The public exhibit is located within common areas of Bobby Nashville, including the lobby, Union Tavern Bar and restaurant as well as the second floor. There is no admission fee. Bobby Nashville also participates in the First Saturday Art Crawl, which takes place Oct. 7, Nov. 4 and Dec. 2.
The Center for Popular Music at MTSU, part of the College of Media and Entertainment, is one of the world’s oldest and largest research centers devoted to studying American folk and popular music from the early 18th century to the present.
For more information on the center and its projects and special events, visit www.mtsu.edu/popmusic.