updated 08/29/2014 AT 8:40 AM ET
•originally published 08/28/2014 AT 1:40 PM ET
Who needs a garage sale when the Country Music Hall of Fame wants your old stuff?
Standing on a small stage with his wife and three daughters in the Hall of Fame Wednesday, the subject of the museum’s newest exhibit – “Alan Jackson: 25 Years of Keepin’ It Country” – admitted he hadn’t yet seen what the museum curators had done with “all that stuff.”
The extensive collection of items, from his childhood tricycle to a plaque marking the 50 million albums he has sold, follows Jackson, 55, from his boyhood in small-town Newnan, Georgia, to superstardom in Nashville – a journey that began with wife Denise, 54.
“We moved to Nashville 30 years ago,” he told the small crowd of family, friends, staff and music industry VIPs on Wednesday night. “We drove up over Monteagle Mountain on [Interstate] 24 leaving Georgia behind and coming into Tennessee, driving an old International Harvester Scout and a U-Haul trailer with everything we owned in there. I had a sack full of songs I was just naïve enough to think I could do something with. It’s hard to believe it happened and that I’m included in this great building with so many legends.”
After a champagne toast to the superstar, Denise took the mic and added: “We love that the title of the exhibit is ‘Keepin’ It Country.’ That phrase started in our lives with the great George Jones. Whenever he would write any correspondence to Alan, he always ended with the words ‘keep it country.’ ”
A note from Jones is just one of the hundreds of items on display on the museum’s third floor. As they got their first look, Jackson, Denise and daughters Mattie, 24, Ali, 21, and Dani, 17, were by turns amused and sentimental over his Grammy for “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)” along with the original handwritten lyrics.
Also on display for the family to see? ACM and CMA awards, his Grand Ole Opry induction trophy, the jacket he wore when he signed his record deal in 1989, the water ski he rode in the “Chattahoochie” video, his childhood scooter and bike, and hats, jackets and a line-up of his signature ripped jeans.
“The house was so full it was getting to be embarrassing,” Jackson admitted. “It’s good to get a lot of this stuff out of the house, and it looks a lot better here.”
Denise agreed and wondered, “Do we have to take it back?”
“Alan Jackson: 25 Years of Keepin’ It Country” will remain on display through March 15, 2015. Jackson will take the stage at the Museum’s new CMA Theater as its 2014 artist-in-residence on Oct. 8 and 22.