More than 100 Country artists are represented in the Heart of Texas Country Music Museum in Brady, Texas, where stage costumes, musical instruments, autographs, posters and other memorabilia highlight Country Music’s colorful past.
KNEL disc jockey Tracy Pitcox began collecting various stage costumes from several entertainers in the industry, and the collection soon outgrew the storage area in his office.
Brady businessman Billy Jackson donated a lot on South Bridge Street in Brady in memory of his wife, Peggy. Donations poured in and soon construction began. Kitty Wells and Johnny Wright broke ground on the museum.
The entire 1,200-square-foot white limestone structure was built debt free over the next two years and officially opened on Aug. 5, 2000. Leona Williams, Darrell McCall, Dave Kirby, Big Bill Lister, Frankie Miller, Johnny Moore, Al Dean, David McCormick, Justin Trevino and Ron Williams participated in the ribbon cutting.
The museum contains hundreds of authentic pieces of Country music memorabilia. About 80 percent of the collection was donated by the artists themselves or the artists’ family.
Several pieces have been purchased out of estates from entertainers, including Jim Reeves, Minnie Pearl, Patsy Cline, Faron Young, Dottie West, Roy Acuff, the Wilburn Brothers, Ernest Tubb, Speck Rhodes and Grandpa Jones among others.
Of special interest are costumes designed by some of the greatest tailors in the business including Nudie, Harvey Krantz and Nathan Turk among others. In fact, the idea for the Heart of Texas Country Music Museum began with a Rose Maddox gold and rhinestone dress made by Nathan Turk.
“This dress was worn by Rose Maddox in the 1950s and was designed by Nathan Turk Rodeo Tailor,” Maddox stated in the letter with the dress, adding, “It is the last one that I have.”
Among the other costumes on display are Ray Price’s Nudie-designed suit with rhinestone feather designs; Lefty Frizzell’s Nudie Musical Note Suit used on the “Lefty Frizzell Greatest Hits” album; Ernie Ashworth’s “Lip Suit” honoring his biggest hit “Talk Back Trembling Lips;” custom black, white, yellow and red boots and a white cowboy hat from Carl Smith; George Jones’ Nudie suit; and Hank Williams Jr.’s Nudie-designed musical shirt along with his custom made monogrammed boots
Some of the other items are:
- Kitty Wells’ gingham dress and Johnny Wright’s Nudie suit
- Webb Pierce’s “Wondering Acres” guitar shaped mail box
- Barbara Mandrell’s rhinestone encrusted belt from her stage dress and her personal home jukebox filled with records from her career
- Johnny Cash’s Desert Storm fatigues
- June Carters Cash’s gold lamé dress
- Buck Owens’ red, white and blue guitar
- George Strait’s Resistol Straw Hat
- “The Tall Texan” Billy Walker’s 1965 Martin and 12 string Vox guitars with his Manuel stage suit and pants
Texas native Jim Reeves is honored in a display containing two of his suits, a record award, a Grammy nomination plaque., a suit and his Baby Martin guitar. The museum acquired Reeves’ 1956 Flxible Touring Bus, “Big Blue,” which has been refurbished, is now parked beside the museum and open for tours. After Reeves’ death, “Big Blue” was used by Wilma Burgess and The Wilburn Brothers.
Ferlin Husky’s extensive display includes his tailored tux, first guitar, rhinestone guitar strap, Hollywood Walk of Fame award and his 1975 Cadillac Limo.
The Hank Snow collection includes his Gay custom inlayed guitar, Harvey Krantz suit used in his 80th birthday portrait, musical note suit, Leddy boots and his desk name plate.
The “Coal Miner’s Daughter” Loretta Lynn has donated several items to the museum, including stage dresses, shoes and even jewelry.
Located at 1701 South Bridge Street in Brady, Texas, the Heart of Texas Country Music Museum is run by the 1,000 member Heart of Texas Country Music Association. Volunteers keep the museum open, and admission is always free. Group and bus tours are welcome. The museum can also be seen by making an appointment during times it is not scheduled to be open.
– story by Claudia Johnson, Country Reunion Magazine