Back to Press Releases
  • Press Release

Senior Executive Jay Orr To Retire From The Country Music Hall Of Fame® And Museum

December 16, 2022

NASHVILLE, Tenn., Dec. 16, 2022 – Longtime senior executive, editor and music historian Jay Orr will retire from the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum after more than 26 years of service to the organization. His last day at the museum will be Friday, Dec. 30.

Orr has held a variety of important leadership positions at the museum, most recently serving as executive senior director for research, editorial and content. During his tenure, Orr’s thoughtful approach to elevating the art form of country music, informed by scholarship, was evident throughout every aspect of the museum. He led the museum’s editorial team, overseeing the development of exhibits, publications and more. He also helped grow the museum’s education and public programming initiatives into the varied menu of programs offered today.

“Jay has been a force for intellectual rigor and absolute integrity throughout his service,” said Kyle Young, CEO of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. “He has brought deep understanding of music and American culture, exceptional editorial skills, and genuine passion for our mission of preserving and interpreting country music history. In many ways, he has helped shape our core values and institutional culture, and we are all the better for it.”

Orr first joined the museum in 1984 as head of technical services, where he oversaw cataloging and acquisitions for its library and collection. However, he excelled as a writer for the museum and other publications and left the museum in 1989 to write about music for the Nashville Banner. When the Banner was absorbed by the Tennessean in 1998, Orr was one of a small group of journalists who were retained and brought onto the Tennessean’s staff. In 2000, he became managing editor for and continued to report in-depth on music news.

Orr returned to the museum in 2002 and took the reins of its CMF Press, publishing award-winning books and leading the museum’s editorial team in developing, writing and editing exhibits and all museum publications, including books, exhibit catalogs, educational materials, liner notes and more.

Orr helped expand the scope of the museum’s public program offerings, including the launch of the in-depth interview series Nashville Cats and Poets and Prophets, and the annual Artist-in-Residence performances. Under his purview, the museum’s education department grew to become a valuable resource for the community and local schools. The museum’s flagship educational program, Words & Music, in which students are shown the basics of music and songwriting, was even spotlighted at the White House in 2009 in a program that Orr moderated.

“Working at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum was my dream job, and I am grateful for the opportunity it gave me to increase the public’s understanding of and respect for country music and the roots of that music,” said Orr. “The music and the culture continue to evolve, and I have confidence that the museum’s superb professional staff, led by Kyle Young, will continue to embrace that change with the enthusiasm, the curiosity, and the dedication to objectivity that inform the museum’s work. I will miss the camaraderie of the staff, but I will continue to take pride in the ongoing excellence of their efforts.”

Orr’s other achievements include overseeing the development and publication of the second edition of the museum’s authoritative “Encyclopedia of Country Music,” published in 2012 by Oxford University Press, as well as facilitating a partnership between the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the museum to host a star-studded country music festival in Washington, D.C., in 2006.

Orr received the Country Music Association’s media achievement award in 1997 and was voted best music writer in Nashville by the readers of the Nashville Scene in 1998 and 1999. A trained folklorist, he also served as a consultant to the Smithsonian’s 1986 Festival of American Folklife, held on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., and featuring the state of Tennessee.

Prior to joining the museum, Orr worked on the first Tennessee State Parks Folklife Project, documenting the folk culture of western Tennessee, and he served as a consultant to the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

We use cookies in the following ways: (1) for system administration, (2) to assess the performance of the website, (3) to personalize your experience, content and ads, (4) to provide social media features, and (5) to analyze our traffic. You consent to our cookies if you continue to use our website. Please consult instructions for your web browser to disable or block cookies, or to receive a warning before a cookie is stored on your computer or mobile device. Read our Privacy Policy.