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City unveils new mural in Musical Heritage Mural Tour

Brionna Reece, Temple Reece, and ‌Cristy Dunn stand by Mountain City’s newest mural, ‘Music of the Mountains” painted by participants of Johnson‌ ‌County‌ ‌Center‌ ‌for‌ ‌the‌ ‌Arts‌ ‌Inspire‌ ‌Art‌ ‌&‌ ‌Healing‌ ‌Classes and unveiled on the side of WMCT, “The Mountain” 1390 AM and 102.9 FM Radio, during a small ceremony last week. The new mural is now added to the six others in town as part of the Johnson County Musical Heritage Mural Tour. Photo by Tamas Mondovics

By Tamas Mondovics

Respecting social distancing guidelines, but full of excitement, a small group of residents gathered in the heart of Mountain City to celebrate the unveiling of the town’s latest mural to be added onto Johnson County’s Musical Heritage Mural Tour. The mural entitled “Music of the Mountains,” honors ‌the‌ ‌legacy‌ ‌of‌ ‌ Tom‌ ‌and‌ ‌Fran‌ ‌Atkinson‌ ‌Founders‌ ‌of‌ ‌WMCT‌‌ ‌and‌ Johnson‌ ‌County‌ ‌Jamboree‌ ‌ and Appalachian ‌heritage‌ advocate‌ Janice‌ ‌Russell‌.

‌Forever engraved into the region’s history, the Johnson County Jamboree was a Saturday morning program airing on WMCT, Mountain City’s first radio station. The WMCT studio was on the second floor of the old high school building and is now located at 120 E. Main Street Mountain City, TN. The old school was home to the famous 1925 Fiddler’s Convention, which is now depicted on a mural at the Center for the Arts. Tom invited musicians from the entire area to come to WMCT and “play on the radio.”

According to local residents, musicians walked from as far away as Damascus, VA carrying instruments on their backs just to have a chance to let the area hear their music. The radio station also hosted famous performers on the show, including Kitty Wells.Tom passed away at only 39 years old in 1969, and Frances Gobble Atkinson continued to operate WMCT until she passed in 2008. The Atkinson Legacy lives on at the current WMCT location, owned by their daughter, Janice Russell.

“WMCT, ‘The Mountain’ 1390 AM and 102.9 FM Radio continues to grow and is now the home of a very special mural depicting the love of our mountains and our musical heritage,” said local artist and community advocate Temple‌ ‌Reece‌.

The mural was painted by the participants of Johnson‌ ‌County‌ ‌Center‌ ‌for‌ ‌the‌ ‌ Arts‌ ‌Inspire‌ ‌Art‌ ‌&‌ ‌Healing‌ ‌Classes‌ ‌led by ‌Reece and‌ ‌Cristy‌ ‌Dunn‌.‌

“I am really proud of the final product and what was accomplished here by the group of artists,” Reece said while emphasizing that the focus of the art class responsible for the latest mural was “an emotionally healthy medium for all participants.”

Dunn agreed when she talked about the piece that is now taking its rightful place as the eighth mural strategically placed within the city’s border, adding, “You could tell that people were painting from the heart.”

Mural‌ ‌artist included‌ ‌Karen‌ ‌Barr, Terry‌ ‌and‌ ‌Betty‌ ‌Dugger,‌ ‌Shirley‌ ‌Campbell,‌ Ina ‌Bellamy,‌ ‌Evelyn‌ ‌Hagler,‌ ‌Tina‌ ‌Osborne,‌ ‌Diane‌ ‌Jenkins,‌ ‌Patricia‌ Cornett,‌ ‌Karen‌ ‌Rose,‌ ‌Andrew‌ ‌Matherly,‌ ‌Norma‌ ‌Roark,‌ ‌‌Connie‌ ‌Dexman,‌ ‌Cindy‌ ‌Roberts, and ‌Brionna‌ ‌Reece‌, who represented the large group during last week’s mural unveiling.

A special‌ ‌thank you goes out‌ ‌to‌ ‌George‌ ‌Triplett and Mike‌ ‌Reece‌ for installing the mural, along with Lois‌ ‌Dunn providing music,‌ Mike Morefield from The‌ ‌Final‌ ‌Touch,‌ ‌The‌ ‌Tomahawk‌ ‌Newspaper, and‌ ‌WMCT Radio‌. An instructional video produced by Cristy Dunn was also released in time for the mural unveiling.

“The video is free for everyone as part of a TN Arts Commission Grant and shares painting, journal work, and a little bit of yoga led by artist and counselor Temple Reece,” Dunn said. Participate in the online workshop and learn more at‌ ‌