Dr. Daniel Barnard said the intention was to make a splash with the opening of the Ellis Theater in Philadelphia.
The first phase of the $40 million project, which will eventually house Marty Stuart’s huge collection of country music artifacts, opened in December with a four-night grand reopening weekend.
“Marty Stuart, Ricky Skaggs and Bill Gather in four days were quite the scene,” said Barnard, executive director of the Country Music Congress. “There were a lot of people in town who came all week. I think we created the splash we intended.
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The Ellis is a century-old venue that has been restored and once again serves the community.
The Ellis Theater was originally built as a silent movie theater in 1926 by the late Henry Bell Hutchison. In recent years, it has served as a performance space for the Philadelphia-Neshoba County Arts Council.
“Now it’s more of a long-term situation as we wait to see the impact on the community as we move forward,” Barnard said.
The long-term impact appears to be in good shape as a new restaurant opens just steps from the Ellis Theater in Philadelphia Square. Barnard also says that David Vowell and the Community Development Partnership of Philadelphia are in negotiations with several hotel chains to build and open a hotel in the downtown footprint.
“A lot of people came for the grand opening stayed in the Golden Moon reserve and that’s good,” Barnard said. “But there really is a need for a hotel in Philadelphia and this seems to be the tipping point for this and many other economic development opportunities.”
Barnard said it’s even more important for the Country Music Congress because once this project is fully open, it will be a regional draw.
“People will come from all over to see the collection and see performances here,” he said.
The dedication ceremony included three invocation prayers delivered by Philadelphia Mayor James Young, Choctaw Chief Cyrus Ben and State Senator Jennifer Branning. Marty Stuart and Connie Smith, along with other VIP attendees, joined the Choctaw Dancers for a special performance on the streets of downtown Philadelphia, and Mayor Young, Chief Ben, Marty Stuart and others spoke speeches to honor this momentous occasion.
The opening night performance was headlined by Marty Stuart and his fabulous superlatives with special performances from Connie Smith and Jontavious Willis. The weekend continued with Ricky Skaggs, Vince Gill and Bill Gaither highlighting the star-studded season at the Ellis Theater in downtown Philadelphia.
As for the opening weekend, Barnard said the feedback has been positive with an eye to the future.
“We had a great debriefing on this. There are always one or two things you could do better, but in general we achieved what we wanted,” he said. “Our intention was to be as inclusive as possible for everyone. We feel we have done that and will continue to do so in the future.
The Ellis Theater will continue its inaugural season with a variety of shows, including Mississippi native HARDY. Performances in the historic Ellis Theater provide an intimate setting, creating a spiritual home for country music in Magnolia State, promoters said.
Barnard said the mission of the Country Music Congress is to reclaim, redefine, and reintroduce the true heart and soul of country music.
“As country music’s most notable ambassador and culture’s foremost archetype, Marty Stuart’s mission is to preserve and propel the authenticity of country music culture to future generations,” he said. he declares.
They claim that the Country Music Congress houses the largest private collection of country music artifacts in the world.
Next up for the Ellis is the Old Crow Medicine Show on January 8, followed by Dervish on February 24. The North Mississippi All Stars will perform on April 14.
Phase 2 of the Marty Stuart Country Music Congress will see the construction of a new community center and meeting space on the grounds just north of the theater. Featuring a giant cathedral-style window arched at a central point at the top, the building will pay homage to the legendary Ryman Auditorium, which housed the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville from 1943 to 1974.
Then, in the final phase, a museum and the educational building will be completed out back which will serve as display space for Stuart’s personal collection of over 20,000 pieces of country music memorabilia.
Included are boots, hats and other clothing, personal effects, handwritten manuscripts, vehicles and vintage guitars belonging to musicians such as Charley Pride, Pop Staples, Johnny Cash, Jimmie Rogers and others. Some of these items are currently on display in Jackson through December as part of “The World of Marty Stuart” exhibit at both Mississippi museums.