Through The Years: Kenny Rogers’ Photographs of America

Say the name Kenny Rogers and the first things that come to mind are songs and television movies. The Upcountry History Museum, a Smithsonian Affiliate, is excited to offer a look at his other passion in Through The Years: Kenny Rogers’ Photographs of America, an extraordinary exhibition  highlighting Rogers’ little-known talent as a photographer.

Kenny Rogers, Yosemite Valley, California, pigment print, Courtesy of The Estate of Kenneth Ray Rogers

Only the second museum to ever host this unique presentation, UHM’s display of Through The Years features 60 stunning color and black and white photographs of America, its celebrities and its working people, all taken by Rogers and shedding new light on the seriousness of Rogers’ pursuit to turn his hobby into another outlet for his creative abilities.

Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton, 1987, chromogenic print, Courtesy of The Estate of Kenneth Ray Rogers and Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

With a Kodak Brownie Hawkeye camera in hand, Rogers began taking his first photographs at age 27. Meeting famed fashion and celebrity photographer Milton Greene led Rogers to take a more serious look at this artform. Throughout the long drives across America while on tour with his band, Rogers would take time to also focus on his photography interest. As that interest grew into more of a passion, Rogers started honing his skill by working with notable professionals John Sexton, former assistant to Ansel Adams, and renowned portrait photographer Yousuf Karsh.

In reflecting on his appreciation for the art and the nation, Rogers said, “I have come to know an America whose inhabitants have many faces, whose cities stimulate the eye in countless ways, and
whose varied landscapes create many moods and rhythms, and, perhaps more important, it has opened up a whole new way of seeing the world around me.”

Kenny Rogers, Coal Miner, pigment print, Courtesy of The Estate of Kenneth Ray Rogers

Through The Years: Kenny Rogers’ Photographs of America was organized by The Estate of Kenneth Ray Rogers. In addition to his remarkable photographs, the exhibition will include some artifacts from Rogers’ performances at Clemson University’s Littlejohn Coliseum, as well as photos of his 2014 performance in Greenville by tour photographer Randy Dorman.

The exhibition will be on display through June 18, 2023 at the Upcountry History Museum.

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