Trivia

Here are a few interesting facts about Nashville that you may not know.

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Nashville Trivia
  1. In 1925, National Life & Accident Insurance Company founded the radio program known today as the Grand Ole Opry. The program’s original name was WSM Barn Dance, and the station’s call letters were an acronym for the company’s slogan, “We Shield Millions!” The famous name change took place two years later when announcer George Hay was preparing for a Saturday night program, which followed a broadcast of classical music from New York. In his opening remarks, Hay quipped, “For the last hour, we have been listening to music taken largely from grand opera and the classics. We now present our own Grand Ole Opry,” and the name stuck.
  2. United Record Pressing, a vinyl pressing plant, is one of only four remaining vinyl manufacturers in the nation. Operating since 1949, United has pressed millions of records for artists like Elvis Presley, Lionel Richie, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and N’Sync, as well as for numerous hip-hop and reggae musicians.
  3. Located on Music Row, recording studio Warner/Chappell Production Music is internationally renowned for its musical talent in radio, television, and advertising. They create custom scores for television shows like the Today show, ABC Sports, HGTV, Animal Planet, and more.
  4. Following one Sunday afternoon sermon, Capt. Tom Ryman, infamous for breaking up tent revivals, became an instant convert and immediately began raising funds to build a church. Upon his death in 1904, the Union Gospel Tabernacle, the church he built, became known as the Ryman Auditorium. The famous hall would later host such performers as Enrico Caruso, Katharine Hepburn, and Bob Hope, and was home to the Grand Ole Opry for three decades. Not surprisingly, in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014 the Ryman was named the best theatre in the nation by Pollstar. The Ryman features the best music of today by artists of all genres.
  5. In February 1960, John Lewis, a student at Nashville’s American Baptist Theological Seminary, helped spark a successful sit-in movement at segregated lunch counters in Nashville. Today, black-and-white granite stools in Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park mark the inspiring event, as does the Civil Rights Room in the Nashville Downtown Library.
  6. Jefferson Street saw jazz, blues, and R&B music during the 1940s through the 1960s. Greats like Jimi Hendrix, Billy Cox, Little Richard, Ray Charles, B.B. King, Ike and Tina Turner, Etta James, and more played in numerous local clubs, such as The New Era Club, The Del Morocco, and The Club Baron.
  7. The Jubilee Singers of Fisk University in Nashville introduced the world to the plaintive beauty and tradition of the Negro spiritual, which became the basis for other genres of African-American music. It was because of their successful international tours to raise funds for the university during the 1870s that Nashville first became known for its music.
  8. Nashville was founded on Christmas Day 1779 on the banks of the Cumberland River. Two teams of pioneers led by James Robertson and Capt. John Donelson set forth from the Carolinas to found the new city. They soon discovered they were not the first European settlers. Timothy Demonbreun, a Frenchman from Quebec, had been living on the banks of the river since 1769. Upon arrival, the pioneers immediately began building Fort Nashborough. Among the pioneers was Rachel Donelson, daughter of Capt. Donelson, who would later become the wife of President Andrew Jackson.
  9. Tennessee’s capitol building is one of the oldest operating capitols in America. The distinctive tower of the building is designed after the monument of Lysicrates in Athens, Greece. The architect William Strickland considered the capitol his crowning achievement and chose to be entombed above the cornerstone. Additionally, James K. Polk and his wife are buried on the grounds of the capitol.
  10. Standard Candy Company, founded in 1901, created Goo Goo, a true Nashville delight marrying peanuts, caramel, marshmallow, and milk chocolate together for a tasty cluster of candy now considered the nation’s oldest combination candy bar. Standard Candy Company can produce 20,000 Goo Goo Clusters in an hour!
  11. Thomas Hart Benton’s mural “The Sources of Country Music” hangs as a priceless treasure in the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. The mural, completed in 1975 when Benton was 85 years old, is meant to depict the rich, varied sources of country music. The painting includes imagery – a train, a country church, and a riverboat – that evokes many of country music’s traditional themes. Tragically, Benton suffered a massive heart attack while looking over the mural, right before signing his name. Hence, his approval never appeared on the art.
  12. The Hermitage, Home of President Andrew Jackson, boasts a driveway in the shape of a guitar. Legend says that the driveway was so shaped to please his daughter-in-law Emily. Nashvillians like to think it was a sign of good things to come.
  13. Belle Meade Historic Site & Winery was famous for breeding thoroughbred horses. On June 1, 1881, Iroquois – bred and later purchased by Belle Meade – had the honor of being the first American horse to win the English Derby. Nashville still honors this famous horse by hosting the annual Iroquois Steeplechase on the second Saturday of May. Thoroughbreds War Admiral and Seabiscuit, as well as Kentucky Derby winners Funny Cide, Barbarro, the legendary Secretariat, and Triple Crown Winners, American Pharoah and Justify, can trace their lineage to Belle Meade.
  14. Adelicia Acklen, the mistress of Belmont Mansion, was one of the richest women in the nation. During the Civil War, Acklen faced financial ruin when the Confederate army threatened to burn her cotton to keep it from falling into Union possession. Duping both armies, Adelicia traveled to Louisiana and single-handedly negotiated the sale of her cotton to Rothschilds of London for a reported $960,000 in gold.
  15. The Parthenon in Centennial Park is the world’s only exact replica of the ancient Greek temple. Originally built for Tennessee’s Centennial Exposition in 1897, the temporary structure was reconstructed permanently in 1931. Inside the temple stands the gilded goddess of wisdom, Athena. At 42-feet tall, Athena Parthenos is the western hemisphere’s largest indoor statue.
  16. The Frist Art Museum is located in what was formerly Nashville’s main post office, a city landmark placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984. The museum went to great lengths to preserve the historical integrity of the 1934 Art Deco building, a work of art in itself.
  17. Elvis Presley recorded more than 250 of his songs at RCA’s Studio B on Music Row. The red and green lights found in the studio today are remnants from one of Elvis’ Christmas albums. Unable to get into the holiday spirit while recording in July, he was having trouble finishing the album. The crew solved the problem by installing holiday-colored lights, putting up an artificial Christmas tree in the corner, and cranking the air conditioner up as high as it would go to create a festive atmosphere.
  18. The amount on the price tag on Minnie Pearl’s iconic hat was $1.98. The Centerville native and Grand Ole Opry star would eventually buy a grand home next door to the Governor’s Mansion on Curtiswood Lane in Nashville.
  19. Legendary Nashville musician Chet Atkins was nicknamed “Mr. Guitar.” A bronze sculpture of the recording pioneer stands at Fifth Avenue North and Union Street downtown.
  20. African-American artist and native Nashvillian William Edmondson was the first black artist to be honored with a one-man exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Cheekwood Estate & Gardens houses a permanent Edmondson exhibit.
  21. In 1941, Nashville was granted the first FM-broadcasting license in the U.S. and Music City became the first to enjoy static-free radio.
  22. Nashville is known worldwide as “Music City” because WSM radio announcer David Cobb referred to Nashville with that nickname in 1950 on Red Foley’s NBC radio broadcast.
  23. The Hermitage Hotel, which has hosted several political and entertainment figures including John F. Kennedy, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Bette Davis, and Al Capone since it opened its doors in 1910, is the only Five-Star, Five-Diamond property in the state of Tennessee.
  24. The Union Station Hotel, a National Historic Landmark since 1977, was originally built in 1900 as the city’s railroad station.
  25. Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center contains nine acres of indoor gardens complete with a 44-foot cascading waterfall. It is the largest non-gaming property in the US based on meeting space.
  26. Nashville is home to country and non-country artists including Jack White, Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney of The Black Keys, Keith Urban, Nicole Kidman, Ben Folds, Kings of Leon, Taylor Swift, Kesha, Martina McBride, Paramore, Alison Krauss, Michael McDonald, Matt Wertz, Joy Williams, Sheryl Crow, Young Buck, Michael W. Smith, and many others.
  27. Nashville hosted the GRAMMY® Nominations Concert in 2012, making it the only time this event has taken place outside of LA.
  28. According to a study by Urbanist Richard Florida, Nashville has the highest concentration of people working in the music industry per capita than anywhere else in the world. Florida states “Nashville’s growth as a music center has been explosive; since 1970 it accounts for almost all the growth in the music sector in the United States.”
  29. Roy Orbison wrote the iconic hit “Pretty Woman” from atop his Eighth Avenue and Wedgewood apartment after he looked out his window and saw a pretty woman walking by.
  30. Nashville has more than 180 live music venues throughout the city. Venues that play music four or more nights a week will have a guitar pick-shaped “Live Music Venue” sign.
  31. Rocker Jack White moved his record label, Third Man Records, from Detroit to Nashville in 2009 where it opened its first physical location on Seventh Avenue. The label releases albums and singles primarily on a vinyl record. The location serves as a record store, label offices, and live venue called The Blue Room. The Blue Room is the only venue in the world to record live shows direct-to-acetate, producing a vinyl master in real-time.
  32. One of Nashville’s best known culinary contributions, hot chicken, was an accidental creation by a woman seeking revenge. Prince’s Hot Chicken, the first and perhaps most well-known hot chicken restaurant, began when Thornton Prince’s girlfriend suspected him of cheating on her so she put extra pepper in his fried chicken. Thornton liked it so much that he opened the BBQ Chicken Shack in the mid-1930s which would later become Prince’s Hot Chicken.
  33. Nashville is home to the largest Kurdish community in North America. The largest wave of Kurdish resettlement came in the early 90s but continues today. A recent estimate has numbered the Kurdish population to be around 11,000.
  34. Nashville hosts the largest songwriter’s festival in the world, Tin Pan South Songwriters Festival every spring. Around 350 songwriters perform their original songs at venues around town during the week-long festival that draws people in from around the world to hear the stories behind the songs and heroes behind the hits.
  35. Outside of LA and NYC, Nashville has the largest per capita concentrations of fashion companies.
  36. The 2019 NFL Draft in Nashville was the most attended draft in the history of the NFL, with over 600,000 people in attendance over a 3 day period.
  37. Oprah Winfrey got her start in Nashville as a female anchor at WTVF while she was a student at Tennessee State University.
  38. Hatch Show Print is one of the oldest letterpress shops in the nation.
  39. Christie Cookies is responsible for making the signature Doubletree Hotel Chocolate Chip Cookies.
  40. The Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum's architecture reflects its musical contents. One end of the building features an RKO-style radio antenna, and the tall, narrow windows resemble a piano keyboard. From the air, the building looks like a bass clef.
  41. During a visit to Nashville, President Theodore Roosevelt declared the Maxwell House Hotel’s coffee “good to the last drop.” The coffee company, created by the Cheek Family (of Cheekwood Estate & Gardens), that adopted its name still uses the slogan today.
  42. During Prohibition, many print shops found in Printers Alley ran a series of speakeasies, creating a swinging underground bar scene. After Prohibition was repealed, many of these bars stayed open. You can still visit Printer's Alley today.
A Short List of
Songs & albums recorded in Music City

Albums:

  • Etta James’ Rocks the House by Etta James - 1963 
  • Blonde on Blonde by Bob Dylan - 1966
  • Songs From A Room by Leonard Cohen - 1969
  • Document by R.E.M. - 1987
  • Acoustic Soul by India.Arie - 2001
  • License to Chill by Jimmy Buffett - 2004
  • Face the Promise by Bob Seger - 2006
  • Icky Thump by The White Stripes - 2007
  • Lost Highway by Jon Bon Jov - 2007
  • Raising Sand by Alison Krauss and Robert Plant - 2007
  • Consolers of the Lonely by The Raconteurs - 2008
  • Detours by Sheryl Crow - 2008
  • Only by the Night by Kings of Leon - 2008
  • Way to Normal by Ben Folds - 2008
  • Secret, Profane & Sugarcane by Elvis Costello - 2009
  • Glory by Michael W. Smith - 2011
  • Stronger by Kelly Clarkson - 2011
  • Blunderbuss by Jack White - 2012
  • Boys & Girls by Alabama Shakes - 2012
  • Clockwork Angels by RUSH - 2012
  • Red by Taylor Swift - 2012
  • Tuskegee by Lionel Richie - 2012
  • A Letter Home by Neil Young - 2014
  • Supernova by Ray Lamontagne - 2014
  • Ultraviolence by Lana Del Rey - 2014
  • X by Ed Sheeran - 2014
  • Cass County by Don Henley - 2015
  • Picking Up The Pieces by Jewel - 2015
  • Title by Meghan Trainor - 2015
  • Tell Me I’m Pretty by Cage The Elephant - 2015
  • Traveller by Chris Stapleton - 2015
  • A Sailor’s Guide To Earth by Sturgill Simpson - 2016
  • All The Rage – Volume One by Rhonda Vincent & The Rage - 2016
  • Dystopia by Megadeth - 2016 (Leipers Fork)
  • Paranormal by Alice Cooper - 2017
  • TajMo by Taj Mahal & Keb’ Mo’ - 2017
  • This One’s For You by Luke Combs - 2017
  • The Nashville Sound by Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit - 2017
  • Unapologetically by Kelsea Ballerini - 2017
  • By The Way, I Forgive You by Brandi Carlile - 2018
  • Golden Hour by Kacey Musgraves - 2018
  • Look Up Child by Lauren Daigle - 2018 (Franklin)
  • The Tree of Forgiveness by John Prine - 2018
  • Unexpected by Jason Crabb - 2018 (Franklin)
  • Vicious by Halestorm - 2018 (Franklin)
  • Girl by Maren Morris - 2019
  • Let’s Rock by The Black Keys - 2019 
  • CeeLo Green is Thomas Callaway by CeeLo Green - 2020
  • Good With Whatever by Dawes - 2020

Songs:

  • “Heartbreak Hotel” by Elvis Presley - 1956
  • “Bye Bye Love” by The Everly Brothers - 1957
  • “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” by Brenda Lee - 1958
  • “Oh, Pretty Woman” by Roy Orbison - 1964
  • “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” by Joan Baez - 1971
  • “Dust in the Wind” by Kansas - 1978
  • “Save the Best for Last” by Vanessa Williams - 1992
  • “Timber” by Pitbull ft. Kesha - 2013
  • “Invisible” by 5 Seconds of Summer - 2014
  • “Girl Crush” by Little Big Town - 2016
  • “Let You Down” by NF - 2017
  • “Speechless” by Dan + Shay - 2018
  • "Lonely As You Are" by Charles Bradley - 2019
  • "Redesigning Women" by The Highwomen - 2019