Birthplace of country music announces “16 Tons” musician contest

Tennessee_Ernie_Ford_1957

Tennessee Ernie Ford/photo submitted

By Cindy Dupree

BRISTOL, TN/VA – The Birthplace of Country Music is calling on musicians to enter their version of the Tennessee Ernie Ford hit “16 Tons” in a music contest now through Dec. 4.

The tune “16 Tons,” written by Merle Travis, is a part of American music history. Tennessee Ernie Ford’s version made the song famous and it has been covered by Johnny Cash, B.B. King, Big Bill Broonzy, and even the punk band This Bike Is A Pipe Bomb.

Now other musicians are being given the chance to add to that legacy by recording their own cover of “16 Tons.”

This competition is part of the Birthplace of Country Music Museum’s programming to complement the special exhibit “Tennessee Ernie Ford: A Life on Stage,” open through Feb. 14, 2016. Artist(s) renditions of “16 Tons” can be a faithful rendering or drastically re-imagined.

Submissions will be judged by a panel of Birthplace of Country Music Museum staff, members of the Paramount Chamber Players, and representatives from Tennessee Ernie Ford Enterprises. The cover versions will be judged on the quality of the performance as well as their musical creativity and originality.

To enter, artists must upload a video of their performance to YouTube and, using the online entry form, send a link to the YouTube video. BCM does not provide accounts; the videos must be uploaded on an existing account, or an account the contestant creates for the contest. If the video is private or restricted, participants must send a password or instructions to access the video in the entry form as well.

The winner will have the chance to perform their version of “16 Tons” at the exhibit’s closing concert, co-produced by the Paramount Chamber Players, Feb. 13, 2016 at the Paramount Center for the Arts.

Birthplace of Country Music, Inc. and the Paramount Center for the Arts will provide sound equipment for the Feb. 13, 2016 performance, but the winners must provide their own backing musicians and vocalists, as needed. Winners must also arrange their own transportation to Bristol, TN/VA for the concert.

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