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Friday, 18 May, 2001, 08:27 GMT 09:27 UK
Country's new Hall of Fame opens
(L-R:) Earl Scruggs, Bruce Hinton, Kitty Wells, Charley Pride, Brenda Lee and Marty Stuart
Country music figures cut the ribbon on the new building
Stars of Country music opened Nashville's new Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum on Wednesday.

The $37m (25m) building was formally opened by Ricky Skaggs, Charley Pride, George Jones, Emmylou Harris and dozens of other Country celebrities, who sang Will The Circle Be Unbroken in unison with hundreds of fans.

Vince Gill
Vince Gill performed outside the Hall
The new building will house every Country gold or platinum disc ever awarded, as well as guitars, stage outfits and other memorabilia of Nashville's most famous export.

The Hall of Fame and Museum has been designed to look from different angles like a piano, a church and even, from the air, like a stack of records.

It replaces a much smaller building which was closed in 2000, and is part of a downtown regeneration which includes a new art museum, football stadium, hockey arena and library.

Performances

The Country celebrities arrived for the opening ceremony from three starting points: the old Hall of Fame, and two venues, the Grand Ole Opry House and the Ryman Auditorium.

In a series of performances outside the new museum George Jones sang Amazing Grace, Kathy Nattea sang Hank Williams' House Of Gold and bluegrass legend Earl Scruggs picked Foggy Mountain Breakdown.

Among the exhibits are a gold Cadillac owned by Elvis Presley and Merle Haggard's pardon on burglary and escape convictions - signed by then California Governor Ronald Reagan in 1972.

Emmylou Harris said: "The Hall of Fame is much more than these fantastic artefacts like Patsy Montana's boots.

"But really it is the music itself being preserved by passionate musicologists that continue to keep the music for the whole world."

See also:

10 May 01 | Music
Dixies dominate country awards
13 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Johnny Cash treated for pneumonia
05 Oct 00 | Entertainment
Dixie Chicks sweep country awards
14 Nov 00 | Entertainment
Country singer set for triumph
04 May 00 | Entertainment
Shania named Country favourite
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