State of Sound Exhibit at the ALPLM!

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Calling all music lovers! The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (ALPLM) has a new exhibit. The exhibit is titled, “The State of Sound: A World of Music from Illinois”, which opened on April 30th and will run through January 23, 2022. I toured the exhibit and was excited to see artifacts and history of Illinois musicians. “We are really excited to focus people’s attention on something people take advantage of. People will be excited to remember how many great entertainers came from Illinois,” Chris Wills of the ALPLM shared about this educational exhibit.

State of Sound
Opening to the exhibit.

What you see.

What is neat is that not only do you see, but you also hear. There are stations covering different genres of music, folk, hip-hop and rap, rock etc. and armed with headphones, you literally plug in and hear and watch a short video about the music and artists. It is amazing how much talent has come out of our fair state. There are 13 different stations you can listen to. I am sure I didn’t hit them all. My favorites were country and folk. There was a nice tribute to musician John Prine. One of my favorite singers Allison Krauss is the most awarded singer in Grammy history.

I loved learning about the group the Sundowners, a country-western trio from Chicago, 1959-1989.  It was interesting to hear how they influenced country music legends of today. There was so much to see and learn. We spent over an hour in the exhibit.

This cool image of the Sundowners print on wood was something I enjoyed.

The Outfits

While the musical instruments were neat, what I enjoyed were some of the outfits, for example, Curtis Mayfield, the famous guitarist had a cool outfit. Mayfield became part of the Temptations. He was in the movie Superfly!

Steve Goodman’s Cub jacket is on display. Goodman was a big Cub’s fan. He is famous for the song, City of New Orleans among others. This star died at the young age of 36! So many of these talented musicians were gone way too young.

There was a long sleeve shirt from the first ever Farm Aid. The event was held in Champaign in 1985. This event brought amazing musicians like Bob Dylan, Loretta Lynn and Tom Petty. Even Roy Oribson was at this event. So many greats artists that now are gone. Tickets sold for $17.95 for this mega event!

Instruments on display

Carl Sandburg’s Washburg guitar

Several instruments were on display. I think my personal favorite was Carl Sandburg’s Washburg Guitar. While I knew of his fame as a poet and writer, I didn’t know he sang as well! He collected both music and musical instruments!

Besides Sandburg’s guitar, there was Sean Cleland’s fiddle. He was a member of the from the Drovers, a popular Irish band from Chicago. Then there was Swing Band great Benny Goodman’s sax and more.

The Sound Stage

The State of Sound exhibit also includes a working radio studio. Here radio hosts are invited to broadcast their shows and podcasts. This is a neat addition to the Sound of Stage which is set up like backstage at a concert!

Take Away’s from the State of Sound

One of the most interesting facts I learned from the State of Sound exhibit was that “Rap is something you do and Hip Hop is something you live”. Sadly I missed who to credit this quote too! It may have been Chancellor Bennet, AKA Chance the Rapper. Growing up on my block, we all listened to WLS radio. I learned that this iconic radio was founded in 1924. Soon Jennifer Hudson will be portraying Aretha Franklin in the movie “Respect” which I can’t wait to see.

This is a wonderful exhibit that everyone that sees it will take away something different from it. While I was there, a family came in and two little girls started dancing around some moving lights. They will remember the lights and the music while their parents will probably remember the memory of them and how beautiful they were moving to memories made in Illinois.

3 Comments


  1. //

    How fun! Being from Indiana, I love visiting all the Lincoln spots in the Midwest.


  2. //

    What a cool exhibit! So much history and not to far away from home!


    1. //

      It is and it really catches music history of all genres!

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