Luke Combs, Lainey Wilson, Others Among Biggest Trailblazers Of The Year

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Luke Combs, Jelly Roll, The War and Treaty, Lainey Wilson, Megan Moroney and many others are spotlighted in the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Downtown Nashville, Tennessee, where an annual exhibit delves into some of the most notable musical developments and events to impact the genre over the course of the year.

American Currents: State of the Music now features a fresh display of memorabilia from artists, musicians, songwriters and more. Those hailed for their impact in music in 2023 include: Oliver Anthony, Kelsea Ballerini, Sam Bush, Tyler ChildersLuke Combs, S.G. Goodman, Nat MyersNickel CreekJoy OladokunJelly Roll, Allison RussellShucked (the Broadway musical scored by Brandy Clark and Shane McAnally), SistaStrings, Billy StringsTaylor Swift, Molly TuttleMorgan WallenKelsey WaldonThe War And TreatyLucinda Williams and Lainey Wilson. The “Unbroken Circle” section, which connects artists with some of their biggest musical influences, features four pairings: Jessie Jo Dillon and Cindy WalkerC.J. Lewandowski and Bobby Osborne, Megan Moroney and Kacey Musgraves and Hailey Whitters and Martina McBride. The exhibit, which opened with remarks from the museum's Vice President of Development Ben Hall, features artifacts set behind glass cases, a video compilation of some of the most important moments in country music in the past year, some of the most notable albums and more.

Angela Zimmer of the Country Music Hall of Fame said the team collects information and items throughout the year leading up to its opening in February, with a brief period to reset American Currents from the year before. This year, the exhibit includes more than two dozen artists spanning a wide range of appeal throughout the genre and others (including, for instance, the crossover into Broadway with the musical Shucked). It also includes several artists who have been featured in previous years, including Combs, Wilson and more.

“I think that a lot of it is the storytelling nature of the genre,” Zimmer said of country music’s wide appeal beyond genre boundaries, particularly in 2023. “Let's take Shucked for example. Shane (McAnally) and Brandy (Clark) are able to — they are able to go from writing songs for country artists to writing this musical, and you can see that their sort of signature style and their humor remains in those. You think about even... Oliver (Anthony) and Maren (Morris) and those songs touch a nerve, even Luke (Combs) with 'Fast Car,' [his spin on Tracy Chapman's 1980s hit]. There is something in the storytelling nature of the genre that I think just makes it accessible when artists get the chance to stretch and break out of maybe the bubble of the genre.”

“Through the 8th annual American Currents exhibit, the museum looks at the country music landscape through a wide-angle lens — encompassing developments in mainstream country, Americana, bluegrass and related roots music,” Kyle Young, chief executive officer of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, previously said in a statement of the exhibit. “Our curators and historians examine the year’s major events and achievements, allowing the museum to assemble an exhibit that reflects the genre’s current impact, history and continued evolution.”

In support of the exhibit opening, the museum will also host a Songwriter Session with Kelsey Waldron on Saturday (March 2) and a Musician Spotlight with C.J. Lewandowski the following day.

American Currents: State of the Music will remain open through February 2025.