Memorial Quilts Find Their Permanent Home at SGMA (Pigeon Forge, TN)

by | Nov 21, 2017 | History

First, the background:  Once upon a time (sometime during the early 2000’s, I think), Singing News maintained a forum/chat board on its web site to promote discussions between its subscribers. When they decided to discontinue it, Daniel Mount picked up the baton and established a forum named Southern Gospel Forums, where quite a number of participants migrated to continue their posting and friendships, with a core group becoming quite close – and quite verbose! For a number of years, Daniel continued to run the forum until it just became too time-consuming. At that point, Southern Gospel Forums merged with a forum that Absolutely Gospel Music maintained until it also disbanded several years later.

But before the merger with Absolutely Gospel, a core group of forums members decided they would like to rent a booth at NQC 2009 to promote the Southern Gospel Forums site and to sign up more members. At that time, they realized that some sort of backdrop would be needed for the booth and the idea of a quilt was born! Members created fabric “blocks” for their favorite artists and submitted them to Donna Hefner, quilter extraordinaire, for inclusion in the quilt. In fact, so many submissions were made that a second, smaller quilt was also created to hold additional blocks for some of the oldest, more legendary artists. The members were quite creative. A square for the Hoppers was a clock and the wording, “What Time Is It?” The block for Karen Peck & New River had a real necklace hanging from Karen’s neck on the picture. The wording on one of the blocks was hand stitched. Some blocks were made from or were inspired by t-shirts from the artists or from concert pictures. When all of the submissions were crafted into quiltable form, the finished sizes were about 9’x8′ and 4’x4′. Many, many hours and a significant amount of money were put into the quilt that contained over 90 artists, a few organizations (Singing News, Southern Spin Entertainment, enLighten Radio, Tony’s BBQ), and even a block for Dianne Wilkinson, the much beloved songwriter. Several members within driving distance of Donna’s home came together to perform the hand quilting, including Mr. and Mrs. SmokeyMtn Santa (Tim & Nancy Pruitt), Dana Russell, Lynn Griggs, Jim Cheek, Kathy VanHorn, Robert and Carol York, and myself.   Here are just a few pictures of the construction of the quilt:


















The booth:  Forums members donated toward the cost of the booth and its furnishings and quite of number of them were on hand to help run the booth during the week of NQC 2009. Many artists came by to see and autograph the quilt and to chat with forums members. At one point, a forums quartet including Daniel Mount, Aaron Swain, David Bruce Murray, and Nate Stainback performed!  (I’m afraid I missed out on that – although I’m still trying to track down a picture that I’ll include here when/if I find one.)   Here are just a few pictures of the booth:










The SGMA:  For a while after its use at NQC 2009, the quilt traveled to a number of concerts mostly in the Atlanta area before languishing in storage until Kathy VanHorn contacted the appropriate folks at the Southern Gospel Music Association who agreed the quilt captures some of the history of gospel music and should be included in the Hall of Fame Museum! At NQC 2016, the quilts were displayed at the SGMA booth and then they were taken to the museum for display, the large one which is high on the wall in the gift shop and the smaller one on a wall just outside of the gift shop.   Here are a few more pictures:

SGMA Hall of Fame and Museum – Dollywood

SGMA Hall of Fame










Large Quilt – Gift Shop


Legacy/Heritage Quilt

More about SGMA: The Southern Gospel Music Association works to preserve the heritage and history of this music that we love. The current president is Arthur Rice, with Gary Casto as vice president, Karen Peck Gooch as treasurer, and Travis Bridgeman as secretary. The Hall of Fame and Museum is located just inside the entrance of Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Quite a number of fascinating exhibits are maintained throughout the building including a replica of the Blackwood Brothers touring bus. The Hall of Fame is located in the center of the building with plaques depicting the honorees.   The SGMA needs the support of all those who love this music to keep this museum going.   Yearly membership is only $20 and you can donate through their website.

If you’d like to see more photos from multiple members,  I’ve tried to consolidate as many as I could in this public album on Facebook:

This was such a project of love! If you were a contributor to the quilt, please feel free to identify yourself in the comments and mention which block(s) you prepared!



Diana Brantley

Diana Brantley

Diana is from the Atlanta, Georgia area and is a relatively recent southern gospel fan, having started listening avidly about 15 years ago. With easy access to eastern Alabama, southeastern Tennessee and north and central Georgia, Diana attends as many concerts as her schedule allows to see a wide variety of artists.


  1. scottysearan

    Thanks for sharing it is beautiful.

  2. Donna Hefner

    Lots of great memories there!!

  3. Bobbie Wiseman

    Thanks for this email! I really enjoyed reading and seeing the photos. I probably saw those in person at NQC at Louisviille, because I attended that year.
    I would hope to visit the SGM Hall of Fame sometime, but it’s not on my agenda yet.
    Really am thankful for the preservation of these kinds of SG memories!


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