Stars to Donate Proceeds to Country Hall

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Kenny Chesney (search), Vince Gill (search), Gretchen Wilson (search) and Big & Rich (search) are among the many musicians who are donating proceeds from one of their concerts to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum (search).

"I revere this place more than any other," said Gill of the museum. "It's a mecca of so much, of all our histories."

Gill is leading the artist portion of the "All for the Hall" fundraising effort announced Tuesday. The goal of the fundraiser is to create a financial safety net, though no dollar amount or timetable has been set.

Following the announcement, Gill performed Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues" and "Ring of Fire" on one of the late singer's guitars, a 1968 Martin recently acquired by the Hall of Fame.

"The biggest disservice you can do to an instrument is to lock it away," said Gill, who is president of the museum's board of officers and trustees. "Collectors will buy these instruments and put them in glass cases. They never get played and they lose their soul."

The Hall of Fame opened a new $37 million museum in 2001. The museum traces the development of country music with video clips and recorded music, exhibits, live performances and public programs. More than a million people have visited the new facility.

"For most of our near 40-year history, we have earned in excess of 90 or 95 percent of our income," said director Kyle Young. "But now the job is just too big for us to handle alone."

Other artists who have agreed to participate so far include Alison Krauss and Union Station, Cowboy Troy, the Del McCoury Band, Suzy Bogguss, Nanci Griffith and several others, Gill said.

"I invited every living soul who plays this music," he said. "The premise is to give away one night of your life to the Hall of Fame."