When you travel the southern United States on the Civil Rights Trail, there is one city you absolutely must visit and that is Nashville, Tennessee.
Whether you want to see historical monuments in motion, soak up the culture or enjoy the music, there is something for everyone.
Contemporary Nashville is known for its music scene and electrifying nightlife that sees thousands of visitors flock to the city every year, but if you’re looking to expand your mind and fill your soul, ‘Music City’ has plenty to offer too. in this domain.
Here we have a must-have guide to well-known landmarks and hidden gems you can discover on your trip to Nashville.
Learn about the influence of African-American music in the United States and beyond
The cultural wing of the Civil Rights Trail is not to be missed, and the National Museum of African American Music will tell you all about the culture and influence of black music around the world.
Far from being a stuffy museum, this engaging Nashville institution showcases everything from the history of R&B to an introduction to Gospel, and shines a light on the little-known role of black music leaders in the industry. If you want to learn more about black music in the city that produced Little Richard and Robert Knight, this museum is a must.
After that, you can take a trip to Rep. John Lewis Way to visit the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum which includes Charley Pride, DeFord Bailey and of course Ray Charles. A Hall of Fame must-do is to visit Hatch Show Print where you can marvel at their collection of music posters dating back to the 1800s and see professionals handcraft them.
Walk the grounds of the university that helped write history
In the 20th century, there was no shortage of moments in the spotlight when the eyes of the world turned to Nashville, and Fisk University is central to the city’s role in history.
Diane Nash, a prominent leader of the Nashville student movement, attended Fisk, and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee was also based there. These groups were an integral part of the 1961 Freedom Rides when 10 students traveled from Nashville to Birmingham to challenge public bus segregation which had already been ruled unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court.
Fisk is also known for producing the Fisk Jubilee Singers who are credited with popularizing black spiritual music outside of African American communities. These musicians are believed to have earned Nashville the name Music City after performing for Queen Victoria in the 1800s.
You can stroll the grounds of Fisk University, marvel at its impressive architecture, and soak up the history on one of the guided campus tours.
Visit Nashville’s iconic building
Nashville set the stage for sit-ins in the American South that challenged segregated restoration.
FW Woolworth in Nashville, a so-called ‘dime and dime’ store where items were priced at five or ten cents, rose to fame after one of the first sit-ins that occurred there when Afro students Americans peacefully protested segregation at restaurant counters.
But Woolworth’s modern building on Fifth Avenue has become a theater this year with a new concept. The historic building was transformed into a 750+ seat venue by country music artist Chuck Wicks. It offers timely shows and can also be hired for special events.
Find a hidden museum
Off the beaten path you will find the Jefferson Street Sound Museuma small, grassroots organization dedicated to honoring Nashville nightlife and the legendary African-American Cultural Center on Jefferson Street.
The Jefferson Street Sound Museum is a non-profit, creative space that visitors can visit and immerse themselves in the soul music history it soaks up. The museum highlights Jefferson Street’s heyday between 1935 and 1965, when the neighborhood was alive with the sounds and sights of Nashville’s African-American community.
The street itself has hosted stars like Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington who both performed in the legendary Blue Room. The neighborhood was also alive with nightclubs, dance halls and jazz. Jefferson Street music was influenced by legendary radio station WLAC, and Jimi Hendrix even called it home before moving to New York.
Jefferson Street can teach you all of this and more while providing valuable community projects with the money it raises during your visit.
Of course, you have to enjoy live music!
After a long day of music education, you might want to sample some of the sounds of this music city for yourself, and Nashville doesn’t disappoint when it comes to live music venues.
Contemporary Nashville has produced incredible black musicians such as The New Respects, Yola and Devon Gilfillian. While in 2021, Nashvillian Mickey Guyton became the first black female solo artist to be nominated for a Grammy in the country category.
5 Spot, Rudy’s Jazz Room, Bourbon Street Blues and Boogie Bar all feature a variety of music from local Nashville black genres to help you relax and have fun, head there for a taste of modern Nashville delights .