Nashville and Music City Story Ideas
A STORY 200 YEARS IN THE MAKING
On Oct. 1, 2006, Nashville marked 200 years as a city with the dedication of the Public Square. This occasion kicked off a nine month celebration of all the things that make Nashville a special place. Walk through Fort Nashborough, a replica fort one-fourth the size of the original, and see where the pioneers settled upon the banks of the Cumberland River. Tour the city’s oldest home, Travellers Rest, and hear how a friendship begun by chance developed into a presidential campaign. See Fort Negley, a star-shaped fort builtprimarily by freed African Americans for the Union army during the Civil War. Marvel at the Tennessee State Capitol, one of the oldestoperational capitols in the nation. Tour antebellum homes that preserve the legacy of the Old South and admire the strong individuals who built them. Walk the Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park, built as a tribute to the state’s 200th anniversary in 1996. The Mall captures the essence of Tennessee’s people and chronicles the history of the state through both prosperous and tumultuous times.
MUSIC FESTIVALS IN MUSIC CITY
Nashville wouldn’t be Music City without a variety of music festivals. From April through Labor Day, major music events shine the spotlight on Nashville talent. Beginning with the annual month-long Awesome April, many different genres of music are celebrated. Because Nashville is the mecca of songwriting, Tin Pan South, a week-long songwriters’ festival, honors the craft with approximately 80 live club shows and more than 250 songwriters performing their original works. Other notable festivals include: CMA Music Festival, Bonnaroo and Rites of Spring held at Vanderbilt. Each year, the CMT Music Awards and the CMA Music Awards are televised from Nashville. In mid-summer, fireworks light up the sky and thousands of spectators turn out for a 4th of July Spectacular, which celebrates the music of America with a free, live downtown outdoor concert featuring the Nashville Symphony Orchestra performing with some of music’s greatest stars. Fall in Nashville brings even more music festivals. Live On The Green is a free 6-week concert series, beginning in September, that takes place at Public Square Park near City Hall. The stage is set up on the steps of the Plaza andthe crowd gathers in the grassy area of Public Square Park to watch performances from local, regional and national artists. In October, the Americana Music Association hosts their annual festival and conference in Nashville.
MUSIC’S FAVORITE STOMPING GROUNDS
The 1950s launched Nashville as a serious contender for recording studios and record labels. The area known as Music Row developed into a powerhouse for the recording industry, and country music moved to the forefront as the top-grossing music format. Out of that birth sprung opportunities for many genres of music to have ownership in the Music City name. One studio on Music Row took center stage nationally and became known as the “Home of a 1000 Hits” and the “Temple of Sound.” RCA Studio Bbecame legendary as artists like Elvis Presley, Dolly Parton, Roy Orbison and the Everly Brothers all recorded there. With the amount of music being made in Nashville it was a perfect fit for United Record Pressing to establish itself in town. URP opened its doors in 1962 and is the largest, and one of the last, vinyl record manufacturers in the country, turning out 20 to 40,000 records a day. They have produced records for Elvis Presley, The Temptations, Stevie Wonder and The Supremes, however most of the records today are for rap, hip-hop and R&B artists whose records are used by professional DJs at radio stations and dance clubs who still use vinyl records and turntables to mix, scratch and blend music. Over the last few decades, songwriters have flocked to Music City to live and write all genres of music. Because of the proliferation of songwriting, a small club opened in the 1980s to showcase the craft. Knownsimply as the Bluebird, the Bluebird Cafe has helped launch the careers of icons like Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood and Faith Hill along with numerous hit songwriters. Bluegrass music has steadily infiltrated Music City and has become increasingly popular. Built over two decades ago, the Station Inn has embraced bluegrass and given it a home near downtown Nashville. Greats like Alison Krauss, Ricky Skaggs, Dolly Parton and Bela Fleck have all performed in this unassuming club. In addition to performances, the business side of the music industry resides in Nashville as well. The Americana Music Association (AMA), International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA), Country Music Association (CMA), Gospel Music Association (GMA), the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI) and the Barbershop Harmony Society all call Nashville their headquarters.
THE SOUL OF THE CITY
African Americans have played a decisive role in the development of Nashville. In the mid 1800s, Nashville was one of the first cities to construct a college for freed slaves. Fisk University, one of the oldest historical black colleges, has dedicated itself to the higher education of African Americans. Additionally, the famous Fisk Jubilee Singers contributed to Nashville’s nickname of Music City by being the first internationally touring musical group. Nashville is also home to the nation’s first African American owned bank, the first African American owned architecture firm, the oldest African American publishing house and a growing gospel music community. CeCe Winans, BeBe Winans, members of Take 6 and Donna Summer are just a few of the names who all live and record in Nashville. Because of the rich African American heritage in Nashville, a new Museum of African American Music is under development and expected to open in 2013. The museum will focus on the contributions made by African Americans to music, art and culture.
A CLASSICAL APPRECIATION FOR MUSIC CITY
Many assume that Music City is synonymous with country music. However, there is a vibrant classical movement scene in Nashville. The Grammy-winning Nashville Symphony Orchestra may be the city’s best known classical organization, but it is not the only one. The Nashville Opera Association is the only opera organization of its kind in the region. And the Nashville Ballet has been a forerunner in the industry for collaborations with known artists that live in Nashville. Adding to Nashville’s growing classical scene is the addition of the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, which opened in September 2006. This state-of-the-art concert hall features acoustic designs influenced by the best symphony halls in the world.
THE ATHENS OF THE SOUTH
Nashville is Music City, but at one time was also known as the “Athens of the South” for its dedication to higher learning and education. In the mid 1800s, many colleges were founded here including Fisk University, one of the nation’s first colleges for freed African Americans. Vanderbilt University, affectionately nicknamed the “Harvard of the South,” was founded after the Civil War with the financial backing of Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt. He wanted to see the South become known as a center for education. Today, 21 accredited colleges and universities call Middle Tennessee home.
BREAK A RECORD IN MUSIC CITY
If you have ever dreamed of making a record, imagine how it feels breaking a record. When it comes to successful conventions, it’s not who you know — it’s where you go. For years, meetings held in Nashville have been setting new attendance records, many of which are repeat conventions.
Meeting planners search for the right destination to fit their meeting needs and their delegates’ free time demands. Nashville is perfect for both. With two convention centers, meeting planners can choose from two distinct options: hold a meeting downtown at the Nashville Convention Center connected to the Bridgestone Arena and in close proximity to 2,000 committable rooms, or the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center with almost 3,000 guestrooms on site. Each has attractive options for meetings. In 2013, meeting planners will have another world-class destination for their meetings: the Music City Center. Currently under construction, the center will feature 350,000 square feet of exhibit space and LEED Silver Certification. Nashville also has a vast array of attractions unique to the city. Discover the Parthenon, the world’s only full-scale replica of the ancient Greek temple. Host an off-site event inside the temple at the feet of the 42-foot-tall gilded Athena. The venerable Ryman Auditorium has been a treasured landmark for over 100 years. Comedians, musicians and actors have all performed upon the famous stage. Rent the venue for an intimate breakfast or dinner on the stage that has been the platform for Minnie Pearl, Johnny Cash, Harry Connick, Jr., Bob Hope and Bruce Springsteen. The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is the only true museum that is a tribute to country music’s greatest icons. Inside these hallowed halls, the annals of country music are recorded and displayed. Bring your delegates to the museum for a private concert in the museum’s intimate performance hall.
Full of surprises for youth, Nashville is a true family destination any time of the year. The Nashville Zoo at Grassmere continues to add new animal habitats and expand its property. The Adventure Science Center is a museum geared toward educating toddlers to pre-teens. In the center of the museum is the 75-foot-tall Adventure Tower with more than 75 interactive exhibits constructed to entertain children and adults. Other exhibits include BodyQuest, an exhibit that focuses on body and health issues, and the newest addition, Space Chase, that offers simulated astronaut training. Connected to the Center is the Sudekum Planetarium, which opened in 2008. The planetarium is among the best in the country and offers world-class shows on a 63-foot dome. At the Frist Center for the Visual Arts children 18 and under get in free. The Frist offers a special interactive gallery called ArtQuest that allows guests to create art after they experience it in the galleries. ArtQuest is made up of 30 exhibits that change approximately every three months when the major exhibits on display change. Visitors learn about photography, sculpting and drawing all while stimulating their imagination. As the nation’s oldest children’s theatre, the Nashville Children’s Theatre is dedicated to entertaining children with quality performances. The theatre was named by TIME magazine as one of the top five in the country.
THE CRAFT OF SONGWRITING
Songwriters and artists of all genres flock to Music City to live, publish and to write with other songwriters. But songwriting isn’t an easy profession. Because of the dedication and skill of these songwriters, there are many clubs around town that showcase songwriters and their passion for writing. Although most fans do not even know the names of the songwriters that have written top hits, we believe in the local saying, “it all begins with a song.” That, fittingly, is the motto of the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI). NSAI was created to protect the rights and future of the profession of songwriting, as well as to educate, elevate and celebrate the songwriter and act as a unifying force within the music community and the community at large.
THE MUSIC IN MUSIC CITY
Nashville is a city with a foundation built on more than 200 years of musical roots. Today those roots have grown firmly into a platform for which the city heralds its signature product. Nashville’s most famous attractions are directly music-related. Touting the music that has made Music City famous, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is more than just a storage house of country’s colorful past. It is dedicated to the preservation of music and music education. Included with the cost of admission are many interactive musical programs. Since 1892, the Ryman Auditorium has been home to musicians, actors and comedians. Wanting guests to experience the Ryman as the stars do, the facility offers backstage tours, plus a unique visitor opportunity for guests to record a song in an onsite recording booth in the auditorium. Seen as an art museum by many, the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, a center specializing in exhibiting premiere collections on loan from other galleries around the world, is a place where the entire community can embrace all forms of art including music. On Thursday and Friday evenings, the Frist ffers live music in their Grand Lobby. Even the hotels are carrying a tune by displaying exhibits on loan from the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, playing live music in the public spaces and posting directional signs with famous music lyrics. Music is the essence of Nashville. It is the ribbon that weaves the city together, intertwining history, arts, culture and sports into one dynamic cultural package. From gospelspirituals and bluegrass to modern pop and blues, Nashville is Music City.
MORE MUSIC THAN MEETS THE EYE
In the first quarter of the 20th century, country music hit the airwaves and a new phenomenon emerged in Nashville. The Grand Ole Opry, the world’s longest consecutively running radio program, was launched in 1925 and made Nashville a household name. Country music has been synonymous with Nashville; however, within the last two decades, many genres of music other than country have made their impact on Music City. With a thriving community of gospel and contemporary Christian artists, Nashville has become home to many famous artists like CeCe Winans, tobyMac, MercyMe and Amy Grant. In addition to gospel and contemporary Christian music, bluegrass has moved south from Kentucky and firmly rooted itself in Nashville. The International Bluegrass Music Association relocated its headquarters to Nashville. Like never before, small clubs around town like Station Inn feature the distinct fast finger-picking sounds of bluegrass, and many times, Nashville’s famous bluegrass residents Alison Krauss and Ricky Skaggs slip into the back of the house to listen to the amateur bands. Many forms of rock also co-exist in Nashville. Pop, indie rock and rock ’n’ roll have all carved out a piece of Music City and made it their own. The Exit/In has been making history since 1971 with performers that pack the house with standing room only crowds. Some of those famous faces include former Nashville residents Jimmy Buffett and Dan Fogelberg, John Hiatt, Bret Michaels and R.E.M. The current rock/pop scene is garnering attention with bands like Kings of Leon, Be Your Own Pet and JEFF The Brotherhood, and singer-songwriters like Will Hoge, Jeremy Lister and Leigh Nash. Out of the growing rock/pop scene came the idea for Next Big Nashville (NBN). Now in its sixth year, NBN SoundLand showcases the best of the thriving Nashville music scene and artistic community with a five-day music festival feat have also found their niche in Nashville with numerous clubs downtown and in the city’s neighborhoods.