June 26, 2023

Honoring Judy Turner on the 10th Anniversary of String City: Nashville’s Tradition of Music and Puppetry 

On June 8, Nashville Public Library and Foundation lost one of our most beloved and ardent supporters, Mrs. Judy Turner. Judy’s legacy at NPL is immeasurable, and this month marks a major milestone for one of the special treasures she and her husband Steve made possible.

Steve and Judy Turner were the visionaries behind one of Wishing Chair Productions’ most cherished puppet shows, String City: Nashville’s Tradition of Music and Puppetry. Both were passionate supporters of the arts and arts education. At the time, Steve was chairman of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s board, and Judy was serving on the advisory committee of the Nashville Public Library Foundation. They were inspired by Ellingtown, the Wishing Chair’s production about Duke Ellington that serves as an introduction to Jazz for young people. They thought “what if Wishing Chair could do the same for Country Music?” and in that they conceived String City as a collaboration between both institutions that could ultimately educate audiences around the world about Music City.  

The original String City show premiered ten years ago, on June 20, 2013. The script was written by the library’s Brian Hull with assistance from Wishing Chair Productions company (the library’s in-house puppet troupe), and the museum’s Jay Orr and Michael McCall. The production featured nearly three dozen artists, pairing puppet doppelgangers with original recordings, to take the audience on a journey through country music history. Wishing Chair Productions built the majority of the puppets, but two puppets were created by Tennessee’s own Phillip Huber, an artist best known for his work with marionettes. 

In celebration of the 10th anniversary of String City, four new puppets – Miranda Lambert, Kane Brown, Darius Rucker and Chris Stapleton – were added to the show that premiered last week at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s Ford Theater. As always, hundreds of Nashvillians and visitors from across the country gathered to experience the magic of String City. Those of us who know and love Judy certainly felt her presence. 

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