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Rock Hall Puts Pause on Annual Music Masters Program

Rock legend Robert Plant and country star Alison Krauss first collaborated at the Annual Music Masters concert in 2004 [photo \ Rock & Roll Hall of Fame]

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is looking to re-tool one of its signature music programs.  For over two decades, the Annual Music Masters Concert and Conference has explored and celebrated the careers of pioneering musicians who helped shape Rock and Roll.  The fall event will be put on pause this year as Rock Hall leaders evaluate what works and what doesn't.

The seeds of Robert Plant and Alison Krauss’s Grammy-award-winning 2007 collaboration Raising Sand were planted in Cleveland when the two met at the Rock Hall’s Annual Music Masters conference.

Music Masters has paid tribute to a wide variety of music legends, from Woody Guthrie and Chuck Berry, through Sam Cooke and last year’s celebration of Johnny Cash.  Rock Hall Education V.P. Jason Hanley says the series has deep roots

"It literally was the first major program the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame put into place when it was built," Hanley notes.  

Up until now, the weeklong event has featured special exhibits, guest speakers and a star-studded concert, like the 2004 tribute to Lead Belly, where Plant and Krauss first collaborated.  But, it's labor intensive to mount such an event, with some staff members working six-months to pull it off.

"To produce something with the value that it had, the depth of story-telling that it has, everybody has to be involved in it," says Hanley.

And with the Hall of Fame Induction ceremony coming back to Cleveland next year Rock Hall C.E.O Greg Harris says there is a lot on the Rock Hall’s plate, right now.

"We want to look at it, re-evaluate ways we connect yesterday and today, and do it in a meaningful way," Harris explains.  "And we’ll come back with something that’s, frankly, bigger and stronger."

No predictions on when the re-vamped version of Music Masters will re-appear, but Hanley says the event will continue to be a collaboration with Case Western Reserve University, the Rock Hall’s partner for the past 21 years.

David C. Barnett was a senior arts & culture reporter for Ideastream Public Media. He retired in October 2022.