From the twang of a banjo to the smooth blare of a harmonica, the foundation of Nashville is inarguably rooted in music. Dubbed “Music City U.S.A” back in 1950, the down-home sounds of the music scene here in Nashville continue to be heard across the country.
The influences of country music can be traced to gospel, bluegrass, and R&B. With the Nashville music scene dating all the way back to the 1700s, there are plenty of interesting facts that would surprise even the most dedicated country music buff.
1. The History Of “Music City U.S.A”
So, where did our hometown get the name Music City? There are several theories regarding Nashville’s nickname. Some believe the moniker can actually be attributed to WSM-AM announcer David Cobb who named Nashville “Music City U.S.A” on air back in 1950.
Others believe that the name originated from the Fisk Jubilee Singers from Nashville’s Fisk University. The group is one of the first musical acts to tour around the world. Rumor has it that Queen Victoria is responsible for the nickname because she said that the singers must come from the “Music City.”
2. Evolution of the Grand Ole Opry
There’s no question that the Grand Ole Opry is a key part of Nashville’s country music legacy. It all started with a Saturday night broadcast from WSM radio company that featured country music — known as the WSM Barn Dance. The program debuted on the night of November 28, 1925, with a fiddle player named Uncle Jimmy Thompson.
Quickly gaining popularity, the show now known as the Grand Ole Opry moved to a performance hall in order to accommodate the live audience. After several moves, the show eventually made its home at the Grand Ole Opry House in 1974.
3. A Songwriter’s Paradise
Boasting an impressive and eclectic music scene, Nashville is also known as the “Songwriting Capital of the World.” Musicians and songwriters flock to our city for its unique charm and opportunities to better their craft.
Bluebird Cafe, located just outside of downtown, is considered paradise for up-and-coming artists. The venue is recognized worldwide as a space for artists to perform their own songs. Garth Brooks is one of the many performers known to regularly play Bluebird Cafe’s open mic before he was discovered and signed to Capitol Records.
The popularity of Bluebird Cafe continues to solidify the city’s songwriting reputation with its regular appearance on the popular ABC drama, Nashville. The cafe is an important piece of the drama’s plotline showcasing the music industry in Nashville.
4. Home of The Country Music Association
If you’re a fan of country music, chances are that you’ve heard about the Country Music Association. This association was founded in Nashville back in 1958 to promote country music. According to the CMA, the association was formed in response to the growing popularity of rock ‘n’ roll on the radio.
The CMA started out with just 160 members and now has more than 7,500 professionals representing different areas of the country music industry. Today, the association is best known for the annual televised CMA Awards.
5. The Birth of Nashville Sound at RCA Studio B
What eventually became known as the distinct Nashville sound began at RCA Studio B, which was originally known as just RCA Studios in the 1960s. The famous recording studio is credited as reviving the popularity of country music and establishing the city as a music recording hub.
Some country music’s heroes like Waylon Jennings, Dolly Parton, and Willie Nelson have recorded in Studio B. The historic studio is now a popular cultural attraction for both locals and tourists.
Country Music Hits a High Note in Nashville
Whether you like the steady rhythm of Johnny Cash or the pop-infused sounds of Carrie Underwood, there’s no question that our city is the place to soak up country music culture for all honky tonk connoisseurs.
Don’t believe us? Just look at Nashville’s impressive legacy and contributions to our favorite music genre!