It’s a pretty crazy testament to Tennessee’s music creds that a city as influential as Memphis – a city that birthed many of the genres we now associate with popular music – isn’t the one known as “Music City.” That honour goes to the capital, Nashville. (Hey, we told you this was a tuneful state). Since famed frontiersman Davy Crockett arrived with his fiddle in the 1820s, Nashville musical history has thrummed with the melodies of America. And, while Memphis is most associated with the blues (and later, rock and roll), Nashville is very much the global home of country music.
The city’s most famous musical venue, the Ryman Auditorium, was pivotal in country music’s emergence. Opened way back in 1892 as a place of worship, in the 40s it became a musical Mecca, where a pioneering country station would broadcast live from the auditorium every week. After a huge $14,000,000 renovation in 2015, today the Ryman is home to Opry Country Classics each spring and autumn and Bluegrass Nights each summer – so check it out if you’re swinging by.
Another place you can’t miss is the National Museum of African American Music, which showcases the indelible influence African Americans have had on music, in Nashville and beyond.
As a culture, their contribution to all the tunes we know and love really can’t be overstated. And neither, it has to be said, can Tennessee’s.