Centenary archivist contributes to new Louisiana Hayride compilation

Louisiana Hayride material from Chris Brown's collection.

SHREVEPORT, LA — Centenary Archivist Chris Brown ’01 spends his days collecting, preserving, and curating documents and artifacts illuminating Centenary’s history as well as that of the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. Building on a passion for the past nurtured in his professional career, Brown also devotes substantial energy to documenting and sharing the rich and diverse history of Shreveport-Bossier City’s music scene. He recently had the pleasure of seeing an important multi-year project come to fruition when he was recognized for contributing to a new 20-CD historical box set celebrating the music and history of the Louisiana Hayride radio show, staged live each week in Shreveport from 1948 to 1960 and occasionally until 1971.

Bear Family Records produced the deluxe box set, At The Louisiana Hayride Tonight, which includes 529 live tracks representing over 25 hours of music recorded during the legendary Louisiana Hayride show produced locally on radio station KWKH. The collection showcases a total of 167 artists, including Hank Williams, Elvis Presley, George Jones, Johnny Cash, June Carter, and many more. The set includes some previously unknown recordings by Hank Williams, and many other tracks have not been heard since the day they were broadcast.

Brown heard about the project in 2015 and immediately knew that he could help. He contacted Bear Family Records, headquartered in Germany, and offered his personal collection of Louisiana Hayride-related material that includes photographs and some recordings. Brown’s contributions mainly appear in the box set’s 224 page book that covers KWKH’s origins and details the songs and artists featured on the recordings. He also provided input for the show and song notes and earned a mention in the collection’s official credits.

“In the project’s early stages, I sent scans of relevant material from my collection, some of which appear in the book,” says Brown. “Next, I helped proof the text and construct a timeline of Hayride shows. I especially enjoyed highlighting KWKH’s formative years in the 1920s and the Hayride’s final decade through the 1960s – two often overlooked parts of the story.”

A recent review of the collection in Rolling Stone by Stephen Thomas Erlewine praises its success at recreating the authentic sounds of the Louisiana Hayride as well as delivering an accurate recounting of its history and its wide-reaching influence on the development of both country and rock and roll. “The wonderful thing about At the Louisiana Hayride Tonight,” writes Erlewine, “is that by keeping its focus on tradition, it recognizes that the roots of our modern world stretch way beyond the midpoint of the 20th century.”

More information about the At The Louisiana Hayride Tonight box set is available at bear-family.com.

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