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Steel Guitarist Paul Franklin to be Saluted as Next Nashville Cat

Paul Franklin with The BoxNashville, TN -- The Country Music Hall of FameĀ® and Museum's quarterly program series Nashville Cats: A Celebration of Music City Musicians returns on Saturday, March 23, with a salute to pedal steel guitarist Paul Franklin. The 1:30 p.m. in-depth interview, held in the museum's Ford Theater, is included with museum admission and free to museum members. The program will be streamed live at www.CountryMusicHallOfFame.org.

Hosted by Bill Lloyd, the program will include a brief performance from Franklin and an in-depth, one-on-one interview illustrated with vintage recordings, photos and film clips from the museum's Frist Library and Archive. Seating for the program is limited, and program passes are required for admittance. Immediately following, Franklin will sign limited edition, commemorative Hatch Show PrintĀ® posters. (Visit the museum's website for complete admission and signing details.)

Since moving to Nashville over 40 years ago, Paul Franklin has become one of the most sought-after pedal steel guitarists. In addition to touring with major country artists, he has played on hundreds of recording sessions. His credits include Vince Gill's "When I Call Your Name," Alan Jackson's "Don't Rock the Jukebox," George Strait's "All My Ex's Live in Texas," Taylor Swift's "Begin Again" and Trisha Yearwood's "She's in Love with the Boy."

Born in Detroit on May 31, 1954, Paul Franklin was a pedal-steel child prodigy. By age 11, he had begun playing clubs and recording sessions around Detroit. He moved to Nashville in 1972 to work with Barbara Mandrell, a skilled steel guitarist in her own right, and Dottie West.

Tired of the road, Franklin moved back to Detroit for six months. When he returned to Nashville, he toured with Lynn Anderson and Donna Fargo and played recording sessions. Over the next two decades, Franklin toured with Jerry Reed, Mel Tillis and Dire Straits.

In addition to touring, Franklin was, and remains, a first-call session musician. He has recorded with artists such as Kenny Chesney, Vince Gill, Alan Jackson, heavy metal band Megadeth, Sting, George Strait, Barbara Streisand, Taylor Swift, Randy Travis, Shania Twain, Carrie Underwood, Trisha Yearwood and many, many more.

Franklin is not only a virtuoso pedal steel player; he is also one of the instrument's top innovators. Convinced that the instrument should not be limited to hard country songs, Franklin often infuses his playing with jazz, funk and rock 'n' roll sounds. He helped popularize a unique style of playing called pick blocking, where the musician mutes the strings with a pick rather than the hand, allowing for faster playing. Franklin, with his father, Paul Franklin Sr., also developed new variations on the steel guitar, including the Pedabro, the acoustic lap steel (or "The Box") and the Baritone Steel guitar.

In 2002, Franklin joined fellow A-list Nashville musicians Eddie Bayers, John Hobbs, Brent Mason and Michael Rhodes to form the Players. The group released a live DVD and toured Japan. In 2008, Franklin joined the Nashville-based western swing band the Time Jumpers. In 2013, the group earned two Grammy nominations. Last month, Franklin and his fellow Time Jumper, Vince Gill, announced they had recorded a duet album.

Franklin lives in Nashville. In addition to regular recording sessions, he continues to play weekly gigs with the Time Jumpers.

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