Tom T. Hall, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear, Country Music Highway committee members, and TourSEKY announced two new initiatives surrounding famed highway U.S. Route 23. Known as the ‘Country Music Highway,’ the stretch of road winding along the eastern corridor of Kentucky, has given rise to several country stars including The Judds, Billy Ray Cyrus, Ricky Skaggs, Keith Whitley, Dwight Yoakam, Patty Loveless, Crystal Gayle, Loretta Lynn, Rebecca Lynn Howard and more.
The new initiatives will include a talent competition to discover the next generation of artists from the area, as well as the development of a charitable organization, the ‘Country Music Highway Arts Education Fund,’ which will support music programs in Kentucky schools and aid children in discovering their passion for music. The initiatives are aimed to bring awareness of the highway’s significance to the next generation.
“I am certain that Governor Beshear will agree with me when I say how proud we are to honor the rich musical heritage springing from the State of Kentucky,” Jeff Crowe, President and CEO of Tour SEKY, said. “Our youth is teeming with musical talent and I am excited to see the impact the program will have upon them.”
The Country Music Highway Road to Fame competition will begin in mid-March. The winner will receive a scholarship to participate in career development and coaching under the direction of PCG Nashville, an acoustic guitar, and a plaque recognizing their achievement. The contest is open to artists 13-35 years old from the 15 counties that border the highway. More information can be found at www.cmhroadtofame.com.
“I’m really excited about the competition because it will show that some of the best talent can be found in the hills of Eastern Kentucky,” Tom T. Hall, a native of the area, said.
“The Country Music Highway means so much to me,” Naomi Judd said in a statement. “I grew up in that special part of Kentucky, as did so many of my friends who have also been fortunate enough to find careers in country music. Keeping music alive onstage and in schools is close to my heart. I encourage everyone to get behind this project. Please join me in supporting the “Road to Fame” and the difference it will make in the lives of our friends and neighbors.”
Corporate sponsors are already on board with the initiatives. The Gibson Foundation, Crawdad’s Classics Gourmet Flavorings, PCG Nashville, Vietti Chili, Fairway Outdoor Advertising, TourSEKY, and Ray, Foley and Hensley Accounting have all already pledged their support.