Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville is "Music City, USA"

Nashville is a small city that feels more like a big town. It is situated along the banks of the Cumberland River in the center of the state of Tennessee. It is commonly known as "Music City USA" and as the world capital of Country Western Music.

Nashville Music City © Mike Leco /
Nashville is commonly known as "Music City USA" and as the world capital of Country Western Music.

Country or "hillbilly" music was born in the 1920s soon after radio and records made it possible for local "folk" musicians to hear what their contemporaries were creating in other parts of the US. Country music was originally based on Scotch-Irish melodies and ballads that were popular at "barn dances" in many rural states. It soon became popular with millions of farmers and urban factory workers across the country.

It is home of the famous "Grand Ole Opry"

In 1925, a small radio station in Nashville, Tennessee began broadcasting a radio program featuring live performances by country musicians. The hour-long Saturday night show followed a classical music show called the Grand Opera so it was quickly nicknamed "The Grand Ole Opry". It was eventually relayed to radio stations across the country and was heard by millions of country music fans.

Amateur country singers and musicians soon flocked to Nashville hoping for a chance to perform on the Grand Ole Opry and to gain fame and riches. The big commercial record producers in New York and Los Angeles at first ignored the hillbilly record market, so small record producers in Nashville began recording the country music stars. Today, country music is well accepted by the international music industry and nearly every major record producer now has an office and recording studio in Nashville. "Music City" has earned its name.

Ryman Auditorium, in downtown Nashville, was the original home of The Grand Ole Opry. It is open for tours by the general public and is still used for many concerts and other entertainment events.

"Opryland" is now located in Music Valley

Opryland Hotel © Mike Leco /
The Opryland hotel is one of the most impressive hotels in the USA with a vast glass-covered atrium.

The new home of the Grand Ole Opry is now located at "Opryland" in Music Valley, a suburb of Nashville. You can tour the Radio and television studios at Opryland or participate in the taping of a Grand Ole Opry show any Friday or Saturday evening if you reserve your tickets weeks in advance.

The Opryland hotel is one of the most impressive hotels in the USA with a vast glass-covered atrium housing tropical gardens, a southern plantation house, a village, waterfalls, lake, fountains and a river complete with excursion boats. You can just walk through the fabulous atrium of the Opryland Hotel, stop for lunch in the casual food court, browse in one of the 30 shops, have dinner in one of the five theme restaurants or spend a few nights in one of the 2,883 rooms. The Opryland Theme Park adjacent to the hotel closed in 1998 and will soon reopen as a giant outlet mall.

Downtown Nashville still offers many attractions

Music Valley is accessible from downtown Nashville via a Cumberland River water taxi that lands at the Opryland dock. An old-fashioned show boat provides excursions, musical shows and dinner dance cruises from the same dock. Within walking distance of Opryland are a wax museum of country stars, a car museum, a toy museum and several clubs offering live country music entertainment.

ATT Building in downtown Nashville Tennessee © Mike Leco /
Downtown Nashville contains a variety of architectural styles.

Downtown Nashville contains many attractions related to country music including the country music hall of fame, several museums dedicated to famous country stars, and the "Music Row" area with its array of international recording studios. It also offers an assortment of interesting museums; parks and churches including a full size replica of the Parthenon restored to its original Greek splendor.

The Wild Horse Saloon is famous for country line dancing

Nashville's entertainment district is centered on Broadway and Second Avenue downtown. There you will find a variety of restaurants; bars and clubs featuring live country music. The Wild Horse Saloon on Second Avenue is famous for its weekly country dances that are nationally televised. Yes, you can be on television if you are brave enough to venture out on the floor with some of the best country dancers in the world.

On weekend evenings, musicians play their instruments and sing country ballads on the downtown street corners. Every day in Nashville, you can see men and women walking on the streets in their faded western attire with a guitar slung over their back, looking for their chance to find fame and fortune in Music City, USA.

From Nashville, it is a short 75 miles drive south to Lynchburg, Tennessee, home of the Jack Daniels whiskey distillery. It is about 200 miles west to Memphis, Tennessee and "Graceland", home of "The King of Rock and Roll", Elvis Presley.

Written by: Mike Leco
Top Photo Credit: @ Mike Leco -
Photo Description: Cityscape of downtown Nashville