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PHOENIX: December 19, 2011 Download this press release >

MIM Celebrates Arizona’s Centennial with “I Am AZ Music” Exhibition

Exhibition Explores the State’s History by Focusing on Influential Artists, Organizations, and Genres

PHOENIX (Dec. 19, 2011) On February 18, the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) will add its voice to the statewide centennial celebration by showcasing Arizona’s musical contributions to the world. Through a special exhibition, public programs, teacher curriculum, and video stories, MIM will document how music making continues to be an integral part of Arizona’s cultural fabric.

“I Am AZ Music: MIM Celebrates 100 Years of Arizona Music” examines Arizona’s history through a musical lens. Beginning with the original statehood celebration in 1912, MIM’s exhibition tells the story of numerous musicians, musical instrument makers, recording studios, performing arts organizations, and musical traditions significant to Arizona’s past, present, and future. The exhibition consists of more than 30 exhibits, each one including artifacts, photographs, and audiovisual content designed to bring the subjects to life.

“The traditions and personalities represented in our centennial exhibition highlight Arizona’s importance in the history of American music,” said MIM curator Cullen Strawn. “Country fans will enjoy our tributes to Buck Owens and Waylon Jennings, while jazz enthusiasts are sure to love the exhibit centered on Russell ‘Big Chief’ Moore, a member of the Gila River Indian Community who played trombone with Louis Armstrong.”

Some noteworthy objects in the exhibition include a double-neck guitar played by Duane Eddy on Dick Clark’s “American Bandstand” in 1960; an exact replica of a stage suit Alice Cooper wore in the late 1970s, which he wore during the filming of “Dark Shadows,” a movie slated to be released in 2012; instruments played by the Gin Blossoms, including a guitar used by the group’s original songwriter, Doug Hopkins, on some of the band’s biggest hits; and the gold dress worn by singer Jordin Sparks during the “American Idol” finale.

Other highlights include an exhibit on Canyon Records, which was founded more than 60 years ago by Phoenix media pioneers Ray and Mary Boley and specializes in producing and distributing Native American music, and another exhibit dedicated to Floyd Ramsey, whose music studio hosted sessions in the 1950s by Duane Eddy, Waylon Jennings, and other Arizona notables. Contemporary musical instrument makers who call Arizona home are also featured, such as Navajo-Ute flute maker Aaron White, Yaqui drum and rattle maker Alex Maldonado, and Apache fiddle maker Anthony Belvado, as well as the Phoenix Guitar Company, White Mountain Banjo, and the Roberto-Venn School of Luthiery – the longest running guitar-making school in North America.

Some of the state’s performing arts organizations also have a presence with exhibits showcasing the Arizona Opera, the Phoenix Opera, and the Phoenix Symphony. Finally, the exhibition examines genres and cultures synonymous with “Arizona music,” for example, cowboy music, mariachi music, and the music of some of the Arizona-based Native American groups, such as the Tohono O’odham tradition of social dance music called “waila,” or “chicken scratch.”

In conjunction with the exhibition, MIM has created two educational projects. First, a set of curricula was developed by the museum’s education team to supplement MIM field trips and support the study of history as part of the Arizona centennial celebration. The lessons will help educators and students focus on the role of Arizonans in influencing musical life, both inside and outside of the state’s borders. The materials will be available for free download on February 14. Second, MIM has embarked on a unique video project in which renowned Arizona musicians, community members, and instrument makers will perform and be interviewed around the state. A variety of musical styles and ethnically diverse artists will be featured. The final product will be a series of short videos included in the museum’s exhibition, along with educational mini-documentaries that will be accessible on the Internet.

Entrance to the “I Am AZ Music” exhibition is included in general museum admission. The exhibition is located in the United States / Canada Gallery and will be in place through Jan. 6, 2013.

The Musical Instrument Museum is located at 4725 E. Mayo Boulevard in Phoenix (corner of Tatum and Mayo Boulevards, just south of Loop 101). Please visit or call 480.478.6000 for more information.

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About MIM
MIM enriches the world community by collecting, preserving, and making accessible high-quality musical instruments, images, and music from every country in the world. We celebrate our world’s diverse musical cultures and foster global understanding by offering our guests an incomparable interactive experience, a welcome and fun environment, dynamic programming, and exceptional musical performances.

Media Contact
Erin Kozak, Media Relations Specialist