The Country Music Highway is home to some of the industry’s most iconic figures. There’s Loretta Lynn, Ricky Skaggs, Dwight Yoakum, Patty Loveless, the late Keith Whitley, and the Judd’s.
It is also home to some of Country Music’s current stars such as Grammy-winner Chris Stapleton and Tyler Childers.
On March 7, we will pay homage to the talent of the Country Music Highway with a Tribute Show at the Paramount Arts Center. The event is presented by Clark’s Pump N Shop and brought to you by Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR), Visit AKY, and the Paramount Arts Center.
All proceeds from the concert will go to restore the iconic marquee at the Paramount Arts Center. Tickets are just $10. Get your tickets HERE.
While the event is open to the public, attendees — more than 500 to date — of SOAR’s first-ever Mini Summit will be in attendance. The Summit, focused on tourism and downtown revitalization, will take place at the Paramount Arts Center and the Delta Hotel on March 7-8.
Performers will do a mixture of tributes from the stars of the Country Music Highway, as well as original content. CMH23 will have a film crew on hand and will air all original content as part of a Tribute to the Country Music Highway show on its platforms, as well as The Country Network.
“The heart of Country Music’s past, present, and future is along the Country Music Highway,” said Joshua Ball, Chief Operating Officer of SOAR. “Our Summit is focused on establishing our region as a destination for tourists, and we have an incredible story to tell. A big part of that story is how the people of Eastern Kentucky have influenced — and continue to influence — country music.”
Holly Forbes, a Boyd County native that recently competed on NBC’s The Voice, is headlining the event. Don Rigsby, the cousin of Ricky Skaggs, will perform with his new group, Hill Country Carnival. Rigsby is a nationally-acclaimed artist in Bluegrass, playing with legendary names such as Ralph Stanley, Charlie Sizemore, and J.D. Crowe.
Others performing include: Sarah McCoart, the great niece of Loretta Lynn; Devin Hale and Ryan Bonner, The Shelby Lore Band, and Rob McNurlin.
David Miller, Marketing and Community Engagement Director for the Paramount Arts Center, will emcee the concert.
“This is a great opportunity to showcase our local talent and raise money to restore the Paramount marquee.,” said Brandy Clark, Executive Director of Visit Ashland. “It is important for us to preserve this historic beacon of our downtown. When lit, we know it is showtime at the Paramount and Downtown will be full of people. I invite everyone to create with us and sing-a-long during the Country Music Highway Tribute Show. I can’t think of a better way to support the Paramount Arts Center.”
The history of the Paramount
Built in 1931, the Paramount was one of the first transitional theaters built for “talking pictures” and was to be a model theater for others around the country to showcase films produced by Paramount Studios. The Depression, however, soon changed the course of events. Paramount wanted to scrap the project altogether. The plans were then picked up by an Ashland-based company with Paramount craftsmen providing the interior furnishings – and the building was then leased to Paramount Publix Corporation.
Because of the change in plans, the original design was scaled back by one third (its capacity is nearly 1,500 seats). Despite the obstacles, the resulting product was a prime example of the Art Deco style then in vogue. Artistic design of the theater was the choice of master/consummate Theater Designers, Rapp and Rapp, who also designed the great Chicago Theater. This particular design was featured at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1932.
The Paramount Theatre has been preserved and restored with many of its original fixtures and furnishings, so that as you walk through the brass entrance doors today, it would be as much the same as if you were there that September night in 1931. Renamed the Paramount Arts Center in 1972, the historic theater now operates as a not-for-profit organization that provides quality arts and cultural experiences for children and families from central Appalachia and all across the U.S.
Restoration of the iconic Marquee
The Paramount Arts Center has raised nearly half of the $91,000 price tag for the marquee renovation.
The Paramount Arts Center marquee has shined in some of the area’s most difficult times. From the depression and the loss of business and industry. Equally as important is how the facility has navigated difficult times, none more unprecedented than the COVID-19 epidemic.
In typical Paramount fashion, they persevered through the tough times, and they are roaring back in 2022 with 26 shows booked now through June.
If you can’t attend the show and would like to make a donation, email Carly Stout at firstname.lastname@example.org.