The 21st Annual International Country Music Conference will be held at Belmont University on Thursday, May 27, through Saturday, May 29, 2004. The academic conference features papers and panels from scholars of country music. Also, the Belmont Book Award for the Best Book on Country Music and the Charlie Lamb Excellence in Country Music Journalism Award will be presented during a luncheon Friday.
The conference has a strong international component this year. One presenter, Kenji Tanaka, is from Setsunan University in Hiroshima, Japan. Another, Karl Simpson, comes from the Shetland Islands in the United Kingdom. A third, Mark Evans, hails from Maquarie University in Sydney, Australia.
“Some of the top researchers of country music attend this conference,” said Dr. Don Cusic, a music business professor at Belmont, recalling how at one such conference in a previous year, he saw people sitting at a table together who, between them, had authored more than 30 books on country music.”
“It says a lot for this music as well as Nashville that it has attracted top scholars to study it,” Cusic said. “Chet Atkins said once, ‘They should study this stuff in college.’ Well, now we do, and even hold an academic conference about this music. It’s come a long way!”
American scholars presenting at the conference come from a wide range of academic institutions, including the University of Missouri, LeMoyne College in Syracuse, New York, the University of North Carolina, the University of Arkansas, the University of Massachusetts, and Lindsey Wilson College in Columbia, Kentucky.
Universities in Tennessee being represented at the conference include Middle Tennessee State University, Tennessee Tech, East Tennessee State University, Nashville Tech, and Belmont University.
The winner of the Belmont Book Award for the Best Book in Country Music, given annually by Belmont University, is The Colonel, a biography of Colonel Tom Parker by Alanna Nash. The co-winners of the Charlie Lamb Excellence in Country Music Journalism award are Nashville music journalist Craig Havighurst and Australian music journalist Bob Howe.
Here is the conference schedule.