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The History of The NAMM Oral History Program

Discover the history of the NAMM Oral History Program, as we look back to where it started, some of its landmark interviews and more.

Grand Ole Opry engineer Kevin McGinty
Grand Ole Opry engineer Kevin McGinty

The NAMM Oral History Program celebrated a milestone this week: the release of the program’s 5,000th interview. In this special edition, the program features Kevin McGinty, famed audio engineer, best known as FOH engineer for the Grand Ole Opry.
In the interview, McGinty shares stories, wit and wisdom working in live sound. He covers his early history, which began with mixing live sound in high school, later attending Belmont University and Middle Tennessee State University for a degree in Music Business. From there, he worked as front of house at Nashville’s famed Exit/In and installed many audio systems in the city’s clubs and concert halls. In 2003, McGinty joined the Grand Ole Opry as an audio engineer and has never looked back.
Since its inception in 2000, the NAMM Oral History Program has sought to preserve the rich history of the industry through first-person accounts from professionals in music products, pro audio, live sound, entertainment technology, artists, and more.
NAMM Music Historian Dan Del Fiorentino manages the program and has overseen each interview, including the very first that featured harmonica designer and musician Bill Walden. The collection began covering all areas of the music industry, including instrument suppliers, retailers, educators, artists, and publishers. The collection features interviews with Marilyn BergmanSheila E., Arnald Gabriel, George Gruhn, Ikutaro Kakehashi, AR Rahman, and Henry Steinway. Soon, the collection expanded into pro audio and live sound with the “Father of Festival Sound” Bill Hanley, Albert Kahn, Karrie Keyes, and Al Schmitt.
After 22 years and 5,000 interviews, the incredible stories from industry luminaries are not lost on Del Fiorentino. “The contributions of those within the music and sound industry may never be fully realized. However, these interviews hope to shed light on how much they have benefited music lovers worldwide.”
In addition to filming and indexing interviews from the Oral History Program, the work of NAMM’s Resource Center department extends to the production of The Music History Podcast, historical preservation of photos, documentation, advertisements, and other aspects of industry promotion for future generations of the industry. The vast archives are referenced in support of research and are accessible to all NAMM members.

Notable Milestones of the Oral History Program:

  • The 500thinterview featured the late Danny Rocks, past Vice President of Alfred Publishing.
  • The 1,000thinterview featured Dennis Houlihan, past NAMM Chairman and past President/CEO of Roland.
  • The 2,000thinterview featured Tom Schmitt, past NAMM Chairman and CEO of Schmitt Music.
  • The 3,000thinterview featured jazz legend, Chick Corea.
  • The 4,000thinterview featured Helen Meyer, Co-Founder of Meyer Sound Laboratories.
  • Oral History participants have come from 84 different countries and all U.S. states, and were born in the years between 1903 and 2001.
  • The oldest living interviewee is former piano industry executive, Kline Locher, who was 84 when he was interviewed in 2004. He is now just days away from turning 103.