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Learn about the Traditional Country Music Foundation
Traditional country music is a favorite of many people around the world, and no one works harder than Margaret (Maggie) Penn, founder of the Traditional Country Music Foundation. The Foundation accepted the first member January 1, 2004, and has been a huge influence in traditional country music. Margaret (Maggie) Penn realizes that traditional country music fans appreciate history and knowledge of the music, and strives to fill the thirst for knowledge. Speaking of artists Penn said “We have lost so many, and that is just more reason to keep the music and their memories alive.”
As country music seeks to redefine itself a differentiation between today’s “American Idol-driven sound” is often contrasted with music that is, and was, the foundation of true country music. George Jones spoke of the issue, saying “what they need to do really is find their own title, because they’re definitely not traditional country music.”
Margaret (Maggie) Penn makes it clear that preserving traditional country music requires help from others. In a recent interview Penn spoke on many facets of traditional country music, her foundation, and shares a conversation from Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge.
TCC: What are the goals for the Traditional Country Music Foundation?
I would like to have regular events such as a dance, jam session, social meeting (either bring a covered dish or catered) with a featured entertainer – a member of the foundation, of course – and be able to finance at least a 3-day festival once a year. If the 3 days goes over good we could extend it to a week. Plus we travel doing our “Tribute To The Country Music Legends” show, and would also like to have a craft fair, with members crafts!
TCC: What prompted you to start the foundation?
I had been going to a country music festival for a couple years and they were supposed to be traditional country. The first year wasn’t too bad, while the second year was a little more newer stuff, and the third year did me in. Was more new stuff with the screaming and wasn’t enjoyable anymore. I had been thinking about starting my own for about a year.
TCC: When was the foundation formed?
I filed for corporation license November 2003. They said it would take 8 to 10 weeks to get it. I had it in less than 4 weeks. Someone in Springfield, Illinois liked what I was going to do. We accepted our first member on January 1, 2004 This is our sixth year and still plugging away.
TCC: Please tell us of your overall target audience.
Basically national…but would not turn anyone down that is international. We have members in Missouri, Illinois, Texas, Nebraska, Colorado, Alabama, Florida, and Ohio.
TCC: What features and benefits are afforded to members?
Till we get a larger membership for now, we send out 2 newsletters a year, June and December. If anyone has CD’s to sell, or any information they’d like to share, we will put it in the newsletters. When we have some events, members are allowed to set up a table to sell their CD’s and shirts, etc.
TCC: How would you define “traditional country music”?
Traditional country music is music that people can relate to. They had the same or similar experience that the song is telling the story about. It is clear and easy to understand. It is soothing and mellow, not loud, and separates talent from no talent. Traditional country singers have melodic voices, and are not screamers.
TCC: Does “no country music AFTER 1980″ refer to cover songs produced today but written in or before 1980?
We don’t do any songs that were released after 1980 for the reason, it no longer had a country sound. It makes no difference when it was written. Country music started changing in the mid 70′s sounding, more like rock and pop than country. It was getting louder, and said less of what anyone could relate to or understand. It kept changing more and more towards the pop/rock sound that I finally quit listening to the radio about 1990.
TCC: How does the requirement effect full CD’s that include some new songs?
If the CD’s were released after 1980, we don’t do songs released after 1980. I have battled that battle many times with musicians that come into the band. You can turn your radio on anywhere in the world and hear, Alan Jackson, Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney, Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood, etc. But how many times can you turn a radio on and hear Kitty Wells, Hank Williams, Hank Snow, Carl Smith, etc, etc?
If an artist, for instance Loretta Lynn put out a CD after 1980, if she still had her old sound, we would do her songs. But her last CD Van Lear Rose, didn’t have the Loretta sound, so therefore we won’t do any songs off that CD. The same would go for George Jones, Merle Haggard, any of the older traditional artists. If they leave their roots, we don’t do their new stuff.
TCC: Who were your favorite artists when you were growing up?
Hank Snow, Kitty Wells, Carl Smith, Loretta Lynn, Hank Williams Sr., Hank Thompson, Dave Dudley, just to name a few. I loved them all when I was growing up. I guess that could be part of the reason I am trying to save it and keep it alive. By keeping the music alive, we are keeping the memory of the artists that recorded them. Those who paid their dues, the hard way. We have lost so many, and that is just more reason to keep the music and their memories alive.
TCC: Can you give us some of your background in the music industry?
I started out as a song writer and still am. I didn’t sing myself back then, I only started singing in 2000, when my mom was in a nursing home..with her brother and his wife. I had my own talent/booking agency for 18 years. I met Hillous Butrum in October 1976, we were sitting with other folks in the back at Tootsie’s and I suggested to Hillous that they regroup and I’d book them. In May 1977 I got a letter from Hillous Butrum telling me that the Cowboys were back together and to get busy booking. And I did just that.
From working with the Drifting Cowboys, I started booking Grand Ole Opry stars and local bands. I booked the Opry stars within 50 miles of my local area. I booked local bands in a few other states.
Thanks to dedicated people like Margaret (Maggie) Penn traditional country music will always be at the forefront. Safely established around the world, traditional country music is popular today, with fans in many countries. Artists around the world continue to respect and perform music made popular by artists of years ago, while new generations perpetuate their legancy.
Visit the Traditional Country Music Foundation website and consider joining the foundation today. You’ll see the latest news, upcoming events, and much more. If you belong to Facebook please join them there as well.