The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum will pay tribute to one of country music’s most iconic artists with Patsy Cline: Crazy for Loving You, a biographical exhibit opening Friday (Aug. 24).
Opening weekend festivities will include a panel discussion on Saturday featuring Cline’s husband, Charlie Dick; their daughter, Julie Fudge; Country Music Hall of Fame member Harold Bradley; and singers George Hamilton IV and Jan Howard. In addition, a concert on Saturday will feature Bradley, singer-songwriter Jessi Alexander, Always … Patsy Cline star and singer Mandy Barnett, duo Striking Matches and singer Emily West.
The exhibit will also be accompanied by an 80-page companion book, Patsy Cline: Crazy for Loving You. Published by the museum’s Country Music Foundation Press, the volume includes a foreword by artist Rosanne Cash and an essay by noted Cline authority Paul Kingsbury. The book is available in the museum store and at the museum’s website.
Born Virginia Patterson Hensley in Winchester, Va., on Sept. 8, 1932, Patsy Cline became one of the most important artists in American music history, recording classics such as “Crazy,” “She’s Got You,” “I Fall to Pieces,” “Sweet Dreams (of You)” and many more before her untimely death in a plane crash on March 5, 1963. Her achievements were acknowledged formally with her 1973 induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Through costumes, personal possessions, vintage photographs, correspondence, career-spanning audio and video and more, the exhibition lets Cline tell her story largely in her own words. Its narrative draws extensively from the many letters she wrote to her family and her first fan club president, Treva Miller. The correspondence offers a wealth of information about Cline’s background, touring and recording activities and the challenges of balancing life as a performer with her roles as wife and mother.
Upon entering the exhibit gallery, visitors will be able to read Cline’s biography in her own hand, via text-panel reproductions of the words she herself crafted in 1962.
The centerpiece of the exhibit is a powerful and moving film, created by museum staff, that includes new interviews with four Country Music Hall of Fame members — Harold Bradley, Brenda Lee, Willie Nelson and the Jordanaires‘ Ray Walker — each of whom knew and worked with Cline; archival performance footage; and audio clips from Owen Bradley’s original three-track recordings of some of Cline’s greatest performances. For the first time, the public will be able to hear her spine-tingling vocals, isolated without instrumental accompaniment, on “Crazy,” “Sweet Dreams” and other classics.
The exhibit will also feature dozens of artifacts, including:
• Handwritten letters from Cline to family and friends, including one to Miller dated Nov. 9, 1955. In it Cline writes, “I’m married to a wonderful guy from Frederick, Md. … we live with mom until we can get a trailer.”
• Cline’s collection of salt-and-pepper shakers, including a Japanese-made set of “she-devils” holding pitchforks; a set of “ladies’ lingerie” shakers; Western-themed sets of tepee and leather “cowboy hat” shakers; a variety of animal-themed shakers featuring Siamese cats, dogs, turkeys and zebras; and more
• Daughter Julie’s pink leatherette baby book, with entries handwritten by Cline
• Cline’s pink marble cigarette jar and lighter, hand carved in Italy
• Cline’s lacquered jewelry box and costume jewelry collection
• Gold I.D. bracelet Cline gave to her husband, Charlie. The bracelet is engraved with the name “Charles Dick” on the front, and on the back reads “Love, Virginia.” The bracelet opens to reveal two photos of Cline.
• Harold Bradley’s 1961 studio datebook, spotlighting notable recording sessions with Cline
• Cline’s red cowgirl-style skirt and blouse, appliquéd with felt longhorn-steer and wagon-wheel motifs and embellished with rhinestones and leather fringe. The costume was designed by Cline and sewn by her mother, Hilda Hensley.
• Elegant stage and evening wear, including Cline’s gold lamé pants and matching ankle boots, and fur stole
The exhibition will run in the museum’s East Gallery through June 10, 2013.View photos from the exhibit.